Which Is Better Heat Tape Or Heat Cable?

We frequently hear from people who ask for Which Is Better Heat Tape Or Heat Cable? When they want is heat trace cable, also known as heating cable, heat tracing cable, or heater cable. It’s easy to see why: many hardware stores sell roof de-icing kits that incorporate heating cable but refer to it as “heat tape.”

(If that’s what you’re after, you’ve come to the correct place; roof heating cable kits can be found here.) Despite their identical names, there is a distinction! There are select scientific and industrial applications where either one could be used, but most applications require one.

This page will explain the distinctions between heat tape and heating cable, some of the scenarios where one or the other should be used, and provide links to our heat tape and heat trace cable purchasing pages. We also have some information about heating cords, a similar but lesser-known but very useful tool.

Heat Tape Or Heat Cable

Is Heat Tape Or Heat Cable Superior?

Heat trace cable is hard but supple enough to wrap around your pipes and does not shrink; heating tape is incredibly flexible, making it preferable for tight curves and weirdly shaped pipes. There’s also a heating cord, which is as flexible as heat tape but allows you to wrap with less precision. The heat patch cable can be cut to size and terminated.

In contrast, heat tape comes in fixed lengths ranging from 2 to 100 feet, depending on the style, and it cannot be cut or trimmed if you don’t have the right length; the heating chord has the benefit of being built to order, but can also be sold in fixed lengths ranging from 3 to 24 feet.

Unlike the other two types, the self-regulating heat trace cable is designed to stay at a specific temperature. This is advantageous since it will not overheat, which is ideal for pipe freezing protection. You will require controllers to regulate heat tape and constant wattage heat trace cable, as they will overheat. Another distinction is how they must be coiled around pipes.

The tape is the one that requires the most care of the three types. It must be wrapped around each pipe neatly and tightly. If even a small section of the tape is exposed to the air on both sides, that segment will not transfer heat beyond that point, causing the tape to overheat and break down. The chord and cable are far more forgiving when it comes to wrapping.

Applications Of Heat Tape

Heat tape, also described as heat trace or heating cable, has usage in extremely tiny areas, but it’s like placing a Band-Aid on a shattered bone in most cases. Like pipe heating, this approach provides direct heat just where the tape hits the apparatus on which it is put.

Heat tape comes in a range of shapes and sizes. Heat tape is a roll of tape having heating wiring built-in in some products. Heat tape can alternatively take the shape of a heat-conducting flat wire cable or a roll of heating components.

Each type of heat tape follows the same heating principle but is tailored to different heating tasks. Some heat tapes, for example, are more water-resistant than others. Heat tape works almost the same way in each scenario. Electricity conducts heat, which warms the surface of whatever the heat tape is put to.

Heat tape is commonly used to melt snow and ice on roofing tiles and gutters and keep water lines from freezing during the winter. Heat tape is superior to pipe insulation in terms of its ability to warm rather than keep heat in. Heat tape is a popular solution for short-term heating needs, from metal to fibreglass pipe.

Warmth Inspection

When using any heat tape, check to verify whether it’s working properly. Place your palm on the heat tape every ten minutes to see if the warming process has started once you’ve installed it in the chosen application. If this is the case, the tape will continue to heat up until it reaches the predetermined temperature. If not, there’s a problem with your tape.

Check if your pipes have frozen to see whether your heat tape is working. It’s a rather obvious way to check, but it’ll give you a good indication. There are several ways to break heat tape that isn’t working.

A short in the wiring or a burned-out heating element are two possibilities. Another possibility is that the heat tape’s power source has been disconnected. Heat tape is only a temporary remedy and should not be considered a permanent solution.

Because metal is an evident conductor of heat, the heat exchange is sure to spread when employed on metal pipes. With this in mind, we can see another drawback of heating tape’s freeze protection: it can only be used on heat receptive surfaces.

Heat Tape Problems

Apart from that, another disadvantage of heating tape is that it simply provides heat. This method gives no protection from the cold. Insulation isn’t sufficient in and of itself. However, neither is heat. Instead, a mix of both is the best option for free protection and temperature regulation.

If you need a quick, temporary heating fix, Heat tape is your friend. In all other circumstances, though, you’ll require a more adaptable and dependable product. Heating blankets are useful in this situation.

What’s The Difference Between Heat Tape, Heat Cable, And Heat Trace?

Before we detail the differences between self-regulating and constant wattage cable, there is one key distinction to make about the heating cable: whether it is self-regulating or constant wattage cable. The heating cable is usually referred to as heat tape in applying pipe freeze prevention and roof and gutter deicing, even though they are two separate systems.

On the other hand, heat tape is a slang phrase that has achieved widespread use in the business, but it is merely another term for heat cable. Heat trace is another phrase that is used interchangeably in the context of pipe freeze protection.

What Is The Definition Of A Self-Regulating Heating Cable?

A specific conductive core is between the two bus wires of the self-regulating heat cable. Because this core becomes more conductive in colder temperatures, the heating cable’s wattage per linear foot will increase in response to the cold.

This characteristic makes it excellent for winter pipe-freezing protection and keeping gutters clear of ice buildup. In warmer temperatures, this type of cable’s power output (watts per linear ft.) will drop as the unique core becomes less conductive due to the increased temperature.

Is A Thermostat Required For A Self-Regulating Heat Trace?

Despite the term self-regulating, the cable will not switch on or off completely. As a result, we recommend using a controller or thermostat with this type of heating wire.

Self-Regulating Or Constant Wattage Heating Cable: Which Is Better?

Roof & gutter deicing & pipe freeze protection is often better with self-regulating heat wire, whereas snow melting & floor heating are typically better with constant wattage heat cable. The main thing to recognize is that whether you use self-regulating or constant wattage heat cables, the goal is to melt and deice exterior snow/ice or to heat floors indoors.

Self-regulating heating wires are more efficient for pipe tracing and roof and gutter deicing since they can heat when the temperature outside drops. Constant wattage heating cables are the best solution for snow melting projects.

They can continually melt snow and ice beneath asphalt, concrete, pavers, and mortar, even during severe storms and climate changes. Floor heating also benefits from constant wattage connections, allowing the thermostat to manage the heat output more precisely for optimal comfort.


I hope you will get information about Which Is Better Heat Tape Or Heat Cable? An electric heating cable, also known as a heat trace cable, is a wire cable that produces heat. Floor heating, heat loss compensation, pipe freeze protection, roof & gutter deicing, and snow melting are just a few possibilities for heating cable in the home.

Self-regulating and constant wattage cables are two types that can both serve the same purpose, though the application will usually determine which the better option is.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there anything better than heat tape?

Self-regulating cable is a good alternative to heat tape if you want greater flexibility during project installation.

What is the lifespan of heat tape?

Heat tape only lasts three years before it needs to be replaced. Most heat tape works suggest replacing them every three years at the very least. Heat tape has a near-constant connection to water and electricity and is frequently exposed to the outdoors.

What temperature does heat tape reach?

A wide range of temperatures from 150°F to 500°F, as well as low-intensity cables, are well-suited for freezing-preventative applications.

Is heat tape effective?

Heat tape typically produces temperatures between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, although some brands can reach 1,400 degrees.

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