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Small heater for a plumbing valve enclosure

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John_Dennis

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#1
I am adding a whole house water filter, which is comprised of 3 4.5x20 cartridge filter housings assorted valves and a backflow preventer. Even though it doesn't get very cold here in Texas, I will need some kind of heater. I used to have a boat that had a bilge heater but marine equipment is very expensive. I need to heat the entire enclosure which is about 16x36x40 inches and will be well insulated. We get occasionally get temperatures down to 20F in the winter.


Thanks

-John
 

Jubil

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#2
Hi John,
Electric heat tape should do the trick. It works fairly well even outdoors in "our" Texas climate. You can even add a thermostat plug that will turn it on & off.
Chuck
 

JimDawson

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derf

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#4
For an enclosure of that size, a 40 watt light bulb will be plenty, especially that you have it insulated well.
 

whitmore

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#5
Heat tape, which usually comes with a thermostat molded-in, will keep pipes above freezing. Light bulbs have
some appeal, but they burn out after a few hundred hours, and that'd be inconvenient during a cold snap.
The only problem with heat tape is that it doesn't SHOW any sign of normal function until it
gets cold enough to trip the thermostat, and then it only draws a bit of current.

I've made a habit of plugging it into a current monitor (Kill-a-Watt) during cold weather for spot-checks.
1.5 decades and no problems yet.
 

John_Dennis

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I thought about heat tape but because of the irregular shape of the filter housings and the fact that they must be serviced, I was concerned that not having the heat tape in direct contact with the filter body it might not work.
 

RJSakowski

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#7
An insulated enclosure and light bulb will work. If you are concerned abut bulb burnout, wire two higher wattage bulbs in series. Two 150 watt heater lamps in series should produce about 40 watts. The lower voltage will mean lower temperature and greatly extended service life.

A thermostatic switch can be added for less than $5 fr4om eBay. I would suggest a 10C N.C. switch which will open above 10C (50F) and reset around 0C.

A simpler solution ius to just set up a trickle stream of water. That trick works up in northern climates where the temperature can drop to -20ºF. In an insulated box, it would take very little flow to keep the plumbing above freezing. I would plumb in a small valve, similar to the shutoff valves used for refrigerator ice makers with a drain line.
 

Logan 400

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#8
Where is the housing located? If in a crawl space you could put one wrap of heat tape around the enclosure between the enclosure and insulation.
 

John_Dennis

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rwm

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#10
Funny that doesn't specify the wattage?
Robert
 

whitmore

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#11
I thought about heat tape but because of the irregular shape of the filter housings and the fact that they must be serviced, I was concerned that not having the heat tape in direct contact with the filter body it might not work.
As long as the thermostat is in a part of the enclosure that's not warmer than the filter body, the heat tape will
(assuming enclosure insulation and no cold drafts) warm the enclosure as a whole. The heat required to
keep an insulated box above freezing when temperature is 20 F is relatively modes, and warmed pipes
are just another kind of radiator.
 
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