Tank heating pads installed by anyone?

Just got back from a 6 week trip out west with our new T@B max S model.  At least had 6 nights of temps in the low 20's.  In the past, we had motorhomes with the fresh water tank inside, so just had to add some antifreeze to the gray and black tank, one motorhome had heated tank pads.  The T@B tanks, including the fresh water tank are all outside.  I;m looking at installing a heat pad on the freshwater tank, gray tank and black tank, which are thermostat controlled.  Also, plan to install a pipe pad on the gray water drain pipe and black water drain pipe.  These will all work off the battery, but I plan to use them, when plugged in at the campground site.  Which means the converter will be handling the load.  My concern, is if the converter in the T@B unit will handle the additional load of the pads.  I have not talked to the factory yet.  Just curious if anyone has installed heat pads on their tanks?


  • jkjennjkjenn Posts: 4,385Member
    Jeff, I will be very interested to find out what you learn on this. Please post pictures and details as you move forward with this.

    Jenn Grover | 2015  T@b S Max Silver/Turquoise Trim | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk v6 | Nights spent in T@b: 148 | Pittsburgh PA

  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    I ordered everything to heat tanks, piping and drain valves today.  Will be arriving next week.  I will keep everyone posted on my progress.
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    In preparation for the freeze protection, I combined the gray and black outlets.  I have the aluminum platform installed on our CS-S so the access to the separate gray and black connections was difficult if something was stored on the platform.  I also wanted to eliminate the moving of the hose between gray and black connections.  

    The new setup provides about 1/2 inch more ground clearance as compared to the previous gray water outlet and is easily accessible with the platform loaded.  I utilized a cable operated valve for the gray water so that I could mount the valve near the gray tank reducing the amount of plumbing to worry about freeze protection.   image
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • Deltaboy59Deltaboy59 Posts: 315Member
    Just curious... During your 6 night stay, did your tanks freeze...? I also have been using antifreeze...in traps and holding tanks. How did your indoor plumbing work in 20 degree weather...? Seems the Alde does a good job of keeping most of the plumbing warm. I worry about the water pump and piping under sink the most. On cold nights I keep the water pump hatch open and bottom cabinet door open...the pump is mounted to an exterior wall so it is exposed somewhat. Looking at skirting options next since under the floor seems to be the major heat loss. Do you drain your freshwater system when you leave a site in winter ? Thanks for your input .
  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    Deltaboy, your question is directed to Jdargis who started the tread, but I thought I would give you my experience. Our CS-S has the external 11 gal water tank under the trailer. With that, the suction line coming from the tank to the pump runs under the trailer. I have had one night out (picked up trailer at factory in Nov) when it dropped to 28 degrees during the night and I did have some freezing of the 3/4" suction line. No freezing that was detected in the tank. No damage to the water line, which was nice. We drained our freshwater tank for the the rest of the trip after dodging that bullet. I agree with you that the Alde does a great job of maintaining heat to the plumbings interior. Probably a good precaution to open doors to the interior. We do a lot of high altitude camping where freezing can occure anytime of year. We wanted to add freeze protection so that we could enjoy our stay without worry.
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • ChanWChanW Posts: 1,872Member
    edited January 2015
    jdargis, I'd think that those heating pads would draw too much current through the converter. Since you'll only use them when hooked to shore power, wouldn't it be better to use 110V heating pads, and avoid using the converter completely?

    Just a thought.

    In our 2014 'S' model, looking under the driver-side bench seat, you can see an opening that goes 'under' the shower, toward the front, through which all the plumbing and electrical is routed.

    It's pretty warm under that seat while the Alde is going, and I've been known to set a little 12V computer-type fan in there to blow heat through the tunnel under the shower. 

    This warm air ends up in the forward wall cavity where the pump is, and into the cabinet where the kitchen sink plumbing is.

    I've never installed it permanently, I just have it wired to a cigarette-lighter type of plug, but it might be a good addition.
    Chan       --         Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 'S' Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl Access Cab

  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    edited January 2015
    Chan, Brian here.  As I started down this road I had the same concern as you regarding the amp draw of such a system.  My first idea was to figure out a way to enclose the tanks and add an Alde radiator (Alde is located just 20 minutes away from me in Portland Or) to the system in the newly enclosed space.  Some amount of electrical heat would still be needed for valves and gray/black pipes.  So I move to the electrical idea and determined that my converter was rated at 35 amps.  Based on that, I felt that a system could be installed on 12 volts as freeze protection for me needed to include protection while driving down the road.  Battery already updated to Batteries for a total of 220 amp hours.

    My design is split into 5 zones with a master thermostat under the trailer set at 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees.  Each zone can be turned off manually when not needed (i.e. no water in gray/black etc).  

    1)  Fresh Water Tank:  4.1 Amps Max
    Tank heater has an additional builtin thermostat that activates at 44 degrees and deactivates at 64 degrees.

    2)  Fresh Water Pipe: 3.0 Amps Max
    Fresh water pipe is protected by a self-regulating heat cable attached to the PEX pipe and insulated with rubber insulation approved for heat cable.  The cables current draw decreases as the cables temperature rises allowing it to adjust current draw automatically as required by the conditions.  This also allows it's use on the PEX pipe in our trailers.  

    3)  Gray Tank/Pipe:  8.2 Amps Max
    Only used when gray water is present (generally not when traveling).  Same thermostat design as above.

    4)  Black Water Tank/Pipe: 1.8 Amps
    Only used when black water is present (generally not when traveling).  Just heating the 3 inch pipe space outside the trailer as the black tank is in the heated space of the trailer and the heat from the pipe will rise into the tank area.

    5)  Gray/Black Valves:  5.5 Amps
    Valve heat is only needed if a thank valve is frozen closed.  The valves themselves will not be damaged by freezing as long as the adjacent pipe is protected from freezing.

    The Max current draw with liquid in all tanks (valve heat not on) is approximately 17 amps.  However this current draw would typically only be used while plugged into 120 volts and the current will typically be less based on the thermostats within the pads etc.  A typical driving down the road current will be something less than 7 amps (just fresh water).

    We will see how it all works out in reality.  I appreciate any ideas people may have. 
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    Well, It is all done.  Not a small project when all complete, but it works well.  So the snowball started with ....

    1.  Upgraded batteries
    2.  Combined Gray & Black into single discharge point
    3.  Added UltraHeat Tank Heaters to Fresh & Gray Tank/Gray Pipe Heater/Black Pipe Heater/Valve Heaters
    4.  Added TraceHeat Cable to Fresh Water pipe under trailer
    5.  Upgraded Converter so that dual batteries will be charged faster
    6.  Upgraded wire size between batteries and converter to handle additional current
    7.  Added Trimetric Battery Monitor for real time battery status

    The actual current draw is less than I described above.  Heading out tomorrow for some rain camping (Pacific Northwest) but no cold weather in the immediate future so I won't be able to report on actual freeze protection (actual current draw while freezing/overnight) just yet.
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • RamrodRamrod Posts: 164Member
    How is this setup working for you?
  • BgkirkBgkirk Posts: 66Member
    All is working well.  We have been down in the low 20's without any issues.  
    Brian Kirk - 2015 T@Bulous CS-S M@x - Portland Or
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 373Member
    @Bgkirk do you have any photos of what the UltraHeat look like when installed?
    2013 MAXX T@B towed by a 2006 Subaru Legacy Outback Sedan 2.5i  4 Cyl AWD
    Seattle, WA
  • daleandwendydaleandwendy Posts: 3Member
    I like and plan to replicate your ideas on my 2017 tab s max. Here's a twist to your idea, if I were to warm up the fresh water tank, would the radiant heat be close enough to the other tanks to keep them from freezing? I can't see the layout because they seem to have taken your idea and enclosed the tanks. Under the sink is a pvc pipe which I believe is the "pour in" inlet. I can take a battery powered garden hose timer to periodically pour hot water into this intake. I foresee running into freezing temps only a couple days a year so using extra propane short term is no bother.
  • dsatworkdsatwork Posts: 690Member
    Can anyone give updates on any of these mods? @Dalehelman did you just ultimately use your fan concept without any heater pads or tape? Planning a cold weather camping after Christmas with lows projected of  29, 30, 28, 31
    2017 Tab Basic S Silver on Silver with Sofitel Cushions....upgraded from 2013 LG 5W....Towed by a 2016 Sorento V6 AWD w/5000lb tow capacity. Dave S. married to Jen aka SanDiegoGal
  • HvtymwiltravelHvtymwiltravel Posts: 49Member
    I winterized our 400 and I realize it is a different set up than the other models.  It has very short gray and black pipes to the gate valves. I enclosed the underbelly area, (4 portholes in the frame), and  added a regulated heat pad to the gray tank which draws 4.1 amps.  I installed a 3 inch elbow heater which draws 1.8 amps unregulated, and a 1.5 inch elbow heater which draws .9 amps unregulated. The gate valves were a problem being Bristol,  a design which does not allow a gate valve heater.  I rigged up a heat strip on aluminum flat stock under the valves which I will only use when preparing to dump the tanks. I wrapped the exposed elbows and gate valves with reflectix insulation.  I did not attempt to heat the fresh water tank and lines but instead installed the water jug used in some of the T@Gs and T@Bs in the back of the clothes closet and will use it as the source for fresh water during freezing weather.  I also installed a remote sensing thermometer to monitor the temperature in the underbelly compartment.  So going down the road with water in the gray and black tanks I will have a load of 2.7 amps all the time and 6.8 amps part of the time.  We plan to go out next month.  I am anxious to see how it works.
    2017 T@B 400   TV  Colorado Duramax
  • dsatworkdsatwork Posts: 690Member
    @Hvtymwiltravel Nice...sounds like you thought about everything. Please share your results. Where are you headed and what are the expected conditions?
    2017 Tab Basic S Silver on Silver with Sofitel Cushions....upgraded from 2013 LG 5W....Towed by a 2016 Sorento V6 AWD w/5000lb tow capacity. Dave S. married to Jen aka SanDiegoGal
  • HvtymwiltravelHvtymwiltravel Posts: 49Member
    We will be heading to South Texas from Ohio.  During past trips we've had terrible weather transitioning from North to South and back again.
    2017 T@B 400   TV  Colorado Duramax
  • dsatworkdsatwork Posts: 690Member
    We will be heading to South Texas from Ohio.  During past trips we've had terrible weather transitioning from North to South and back again.
    Well Godspeed on your journey 
    2017 Tab Basic S Silver on Silver with Sofitel Cushions....upgraded from 2013 LG 5W....Towed by a 2016 Sorento V6 AWD w/5000lb tow capacity. Dave S. married to Jen aka SanDiegoGal
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