There is a lot of misconception about using heat tapes and water hoses..
Please remember while reading this ... I am not saying that everyone should do as I do... only that they should research the heat tape/water hose issue and use their own common sense to make their own decision..
I have always used the regular "WHITE" water hoses... I have never had one break or melt due to freezing weather or using a heat tape...
However... I had one burst in August because the hose was laying in the sun without any protection. The sun heated the hose up so much that the water built up enough pressure to actually "Blow" a hole in the hose..
After that disaster, I leave the heat tape and insulation on the water hose all year round... never had a problem since..
yes, I do unplug the heat tape in the summer months, but thats only to free up the receptacle for the outside lighting and BBQ..
I have always "Spiraled" the heat tape around the white water hose and have NEVER had a problem of any type...
I make one spiral wrap around every three feet on the hose... thus a ten foot hose would have three spirals of the heat tape on it..
Stories of heat tapes melting the white water hose are hogwash...
under normal operation and with proper installation, the heat "tape" never gets hotter that 40/45 degrees .... and about the only thing that 45 degrees can melt is ice cubes and ice cream..
Please Note: A heat tape is different from the "Commercial" single wire type of "pipe heating wires" used on metal pipes like in dairy farm operations... NEVER try to use any type of "COMMERCIAL" heat wires on any kind of NON-METAL pipe/hose
A "Heat Tape" is a long plastic ribbon that is attached to the water hose that feeds your coach when you are hooked up to city water.
It works just like an electric blanket does on your bed or the forced air furnace in your home or RV.... It cycles on and off to maintain a pre-set temperature that is controlled by a thermostat.
A heat tape does NOT stay on all the time... it has a thermostat and will cycle on and off as needed..
In the case of a heat tape, it's non-adjustable thermostat is set to maintain a temperature of about 40/45 degrees on your water hose so the water won't freeze during the winter.
The heat tape must be used in combination with some type of insulation. By itself it does a very poor job.
There are several types and brand names of heat tapes on the market, but the only one that I can recommend is the one made by "Frost King"..
Try to get the model with the "clear plastic bubble" located on the end of the tape where the 110 volt plug is.
When the tape is plugged in, a little red light will glow inside the clear plastic bubble and you will know that it's working properly.
ATTENTION SHOPPERS .... I was in Walmart yesterday and they had a large display of heat tapes... 18 ft long for $25... and they were the "good" type with the little bubble window so you can tell that they are working..
Heat tapes come in different lengths, simply measure the length of your water hose first and then buy the length of heat tape recommended on the back of the heat tape package for that length water hose.
Heat tapes cost about $15 to $30 depending on length. But they will last for 20 plus years if taken care of properly. Most hardware stores and places like Wal-Mart carry them as well as the insulation..
The best insulation to use are the "Foam Tubes" (about 99 cent each) with the split down the entire length and are designed to simply slip over the water hose.
Most people then wrap some type of tape around the insulated hose about every foot, so the wind won't blow the insulation tubes off.
Caution... do not wrap the tape too tight... you want the foam to retain it's puffed-up round shape...
if you squeeze the foam down against the hose by taping too tight.. those squeezed down spots will not have the same insulating quality as the rest of the insulation tube..
I personally use only electricians tape to hold the heat tape to the water hose and also to hold the foam tubes in place..
I DO NOT recommend using things like plastic wire ties, duct tape, string, or any type of material that is not totally flexible and stretchable...
WHY .. ? ... because every time you open a faucet in the RV, the water hose will relax and shrink back to it's normal diameter ... but when the faucet is closed, the hose will swell up from the water pressure inside it..
and things like duct tape or plastic wire ties cannot expand and contract with the action of the water hose, thus creating a rigid spot on the hose that over time could wear a hole in the hose and/or heat tape..
Once again folks.... I am not saying that you have to do it my way ...
I am only posting this to give you something to think about and to help you decide how you want to handle the situation to satisfy yourself....