In our segment today we’ve decided to compare insulation. Insulation is one of those things that might seem insignificant or rather considered as, ‘all the same’ sort of like tissue. Well today we will not only bust that myth but take a look at the difference between two types of insulation, electrical tape and heat shrink tubing.

First of all, as many of you may know, insulation such as the ones mentioned, do exactly that; they insulate interior wires to protect from oil and water as well as extend the life of the cable because it will offer not only high heat resistance but resistance to abrasion and elemental factors.

What is heat shrink tubing and what is it used for?

The purpose of heat shrink tubing, as seen on the image to the right, is to cover the exposed conductor to avoid any abrasion and provide protection against environmental/elemental exposure. Heat shrink tubing works by sliding the tube through the wire(s) and once in the desired area, it must be placed over a heat source such as a heat gun for it to tighten and create insulation in the exposed area. Different from electrical tape, and similar to wires and cable material, the heat shrink tubing is made out of FEP, Neoprene and Polyolefin as well as PTFE, PVC and Kynar. These materials differ by malleability as well as by resistance to abrasion.

Heat shrink tubing is commonly used for wire organization, protection against abrasion and elemental factors, identifying wires, protection/insulation of electrical conduction and quick fix to damaged exposed wires. Lastly, not all heat shrink tubing is made equally. Depending on the industry, different grade heat shrink tubing is used to set wires and cables up for success and avoid abrasion as well as water/oil damage.

What is electrical tape and what is it used for?

Electrical Tape, also commonly referred to as insulating tape is meant to insulate and protect the electrical conduction of wires as well as serve as cable/wire organization. This type of tape is usually made out of plastic-like material such as vinyl, rubber, mastic and varnish but is most commonly found in vinyl. 

If color is important to your application for identifying, then your choice is limitless. Although black is the most commonly used color, other colors are typically used to identify a certain voltage in the industry as well as serve the purpose of identification to not only electricians but engineers and manufacturers.

Lastly, are they similar? 

Well, up to this point you might conclude that you can use either one for your specific application, and your totally right. Both insulation types serve the same purpose to insulate electrical conductors as well as come in different colors for your convenience. Yet, this is where we draw the line.

Although it may seem like heat shrink tubing is limiting because of its preset sizes they come in, they’re precise. It must also be said that the material from heat shrink tubing is more durable because of the material made. On the other hand, electrical tape is mostly only used in vinyl and for wire binding.

As you may already know where this is going, but if not, to be more clear, heat shrink tubing is much more dependable. Here, dependability is based off on whether insulation will eventually unattach from and expose wire causing for there to be risk of faultiness.

If you are interested in or just would like to know more about heat shrink tubing for your next application, Z-Tronix bulk wire and cable experts are ready to answer all of your questions and provide recommendations based on your application setting and use. Call 562-808-0800 or email us at quotes@z-tronix.com.