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What’s The Difference – Heat Trace Cable & Heat Tape?

  • Heat trace cable is somewhat stiff, but it’s pliable enough to wrap it around your pipes, and it does not shrink; Heating tape is extremely flexible, therefore it’s better for tight contours and oddly shaped pipes. There is also heating chord, and it is just as flexible as heat tape, only that it allows you to be imprecise when wrapping.
  • As far as length goes, heat trace cable can be cut to length and you can also add terminations to it, and heat tape comes in fixed lengths, somewhere between 2 and 100 feet, based on its style and you should know that it cannot be cut or trimmed if you don’t have the right length; the heating chord has the main advantage of being built to order, but it can also be sold in fixed lengths, anywhere between 3 and 24 feet.
  • Unlike the other two types, self regulating heat trace cable is built so that it won’t rise above a particular temperature. This is an advantage, because it means it will not overheat, making it perfect for freeze protection on pipes.
  • For heat tape and constant wattage heat trace cable, you will need controllers to regulate them, as they will overheat.
  • Another difference is about the way they must be wrapped around pipes. Of all the three types, the one you need to be most careful about is the tape. It needs to be wrapped perfectly and tight around each pipe. The reason is that if there is even a small segment of tape with both sides exposed to the air, that particular segment will not transfer heat beyond that point and the tape will overheat and break down. The chord and cable are a lot more forgiving when it comes to wrapping.

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