Electrical tape is a convenient item to have around the house and it comes in especially handy when you have to use it on wires or in places that may heat up. You probably already know that adhesives lose their strength when they are heated up. But is electrical tape heat resistant?
Most types of electrical tape have some form of heat resistance. They are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that can withstand temperatures of up to 200°F (93°C), which is more than what a typical wire reaches in a household. The industry safety standard BS 4J10:1991 requires that the tape is non-flammable and resistant up to 176°F (80°C).
But what about the adhesive? Is there any type of electrical tape that can resist higher temperatures? Is electrical tape heat resistant to melting as well? You will learn more about the properties of electrical tape by reading the rest of the article.
Is Electrical Tape Heat Resistant
We now know that industry safety standards, such as the BS 4J10:1991 and the BS EN 60454 Type 2, have certain requirements that must be followed by all companies. This is great because it means that virtually all forms of electrical tape on the market can endure at least 176°F (80°C). But can you get electrical tape that is more heat resistant than that?
You actually can, but don’t expect it to go much higher as PVC is a type of plastic at the end of the day. Some manufacturers, like 3M, offer rubber electrical tapes that can resist temperatures of up to 266°F (130°C). This is great if you have to use the tape in a place that can heat up a lot, such as your car engine bay. But what about melting temperatures?
PVC melting temperatures have a pretty wide range. They go from 212°F (100°C) all the way up to 500°F (260°C). Note that the melting point also depends on the thickness of the electrical tape and the number of layers. Electrical tape is non-flammable, which is very important if you use it to insulate a live wire. The last thing you want is your electrical tape to ignite in the middle of the night.
Another important factor that affects the heat resistance of electrical tape is the adhesive. The adhesive starts losing its effectiveness at temperatures that exceed 180°F (82°C). Even if the tape itself can endure temperatures higher than that, there is no guarantee that the tape will not come loose and wreak havoc by exposing live wires.
That’s why you want to make sure that you get high-quality electrical tape with a strong adhesive coating. And electrical tape does usually come with some pretty strong rubber adhesive coating that can keep the tape in place for years. It is a good alternative to transparent adhesive tape. And if you are using electrical tape for your PC, you can get it in the color of your case to make it blend in better.
Note that electrical tape comes in different colors to allow you to use it for different electrical phases. It is not made in a certain color so that you can pick your favorite one at the check-out. You should buy electrical tape that is appropriate for your usage scenario because the colors actually represent different voltage levels and applications. Using the wrong electrical tape can result in an electric shock, so be careful.
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So, is electrical tape heat resistant? Typical electrical tape can resist temperatures upwards of 200°F (93°C). Add fire resistance to the mix and you got a very useful tool to keep all your live wire insulated and protected from damage that can be caused by heat. The only potential problem is that the adhesive coating starts loosening up at temperatures above 180°F (82°C).
This means that electrical tape is not ideal in places that can get extremely hot. You could use regular electrical tape for your car, but the engine bay can get very hot, so your best bet will be to use electrical tape that is a bit more heat resistant than regular tape.