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Comparing heat tape and heat cables – what’s best for frost protection?

Heat tape V heat cables

Trace heating is one of the best ways to protect buildings and utilities from winter weather. If you’re deciding between heat tape and self-regulating heat cables, take a look at our advice below to help you choose which is the best solution for your needs. Need more assistance with specifying your project? Talk to us about our design, supply and commissioning services.

What is heat tape?

Despite its name, heat tape is not a tape at all, it’s a form of electric cable that’s often referred to as constant wattage cable. It comes in fixed, flexible lengths that aren’t able to be adjusted during installation.

What are the limitations of heat tape?

Heat tape can be used on many projects but there are some limitations that make it unworkable for some situations.

  • Overlapping cables that are touching one another could lead to them overheating which may result in cable burnout and could be a safety risk.
  • The entire circuit can be lost if there is damage anywhere along the length so regular maintenance checks are recommended
  • Cable damage generally can seldom be repaired so this will need to be removed and new cable installed along with insulation
  • Constant wattage cable cannot be cut-to-length so you will need to order the correct length required.

What is the alternative to heat tape?

For more flexibility during installation and enhanced energy savings, we would recommend self-regulating heat cable for frost protection applications.

Some long-term benefits include:

  • Durability – cables can overlap without the risk of burning out or fire and have greater impact resistance.
  • Ease of design and installation – self-regulating cables can be cut to length, are easy to tee, splice and repair.
  • Lower cost of ownership – heating output is related to the surrounding temperature, reducing output when less heat is required to maximise energy savings.

What are the best products for frost protection?

We would recommend nVent RAYCHEM products that have been specifically designed to protect your pipes from freezing such as XL Trace frost protection cable. Available in four power outputs – 10W to 31W, this cable is often used with an ambient sensing controller for advanced energy-saving controls.

To help maintain commercial roofs and gutters during the colder seasons, GM-2X IceStop self regulating cable will ensure ice and snow is melted, preventing build-up and blockages from occurring.

Read to buy? Visit our shop to browse our range and buy online.

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