Following the launch of its Temflex PVC Tape, 3M’s Rachel Salisbury shares six ways that you can make better use of electrical tape in your daily work.
Tape: one of those everyday pieces of equipment in the electrician’s toolbox and something so easy to take for granted. That’s totally understandable, but the ‘right tape for the right job’ can make the working day easier, helping to save time, preventing moisture getting in, providing insulation, and avoiding unnecessary electrical failures and future repair work.
Here are six ways in which electricians can make better use of electrical tapes:
1. Know what’s what
Not all tapes are the same. There are four main applications of which to be aware, each requiring a different tape: ‘holding’ for cable bundling and other temporary applications where long-term performance is not important; ‘insulating’ for both primary and secondary applications, where the tape is a permanent installation; ‘protection’ where tapes prevent corrosion, moisture ingress, or protect against abrasion; and ﬁnally, ‘identiﬁcation’, for colour coding and tagging, and cable phase marking applications.
2. Don’t waste money
There’s no point using premium tapes for temporary applications such as bundling. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that cheap tapes are the way to go – they can be a false economy. For instance, a premium PVC tape might only need three or so lapped layers, while a less expensive tape may need several more, so ending up costing the same while creating unwanted bulk. Also, they may lack the quality required for long-term performance, such as UV-resistance.
3. Cold weather
A thin tape with poor conformability could crack or split in the winter, so look for tapes that can support the right temperature change for the environment. Also, some tapes can be hard to handle in the cold, making it difficult to wrap wires accurately and risking gaps that can lead to connection failure. So look for tapes that also have high conformability performance.
4. Choose speciality tapes on occasions
Abrasion resistant tapes, for instance, may cost more, but if a cable is going to be dragged around on-site, then it is worth the extra cost. Likewise, tapes designed speciﬁcally for pipe protection or self-amalgamating tapes can make a specialist job easier to complete and provide a better-quality end-result.
5. Technique matters
As well as choosing the right tape, take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions; don’t assume that the way you have used another tape will be the same for a new one. The taping technique used for basic PVC insulating tapes doesn’t necessarily apply to all tapes. For instance, self-amalgamating tapes may need to be stretched up to 100% to achieve the correct bond.
6. Don’t rush taping
Of course, electricians are always under pressure to work quickly, but it is essential to make sure that taping is applied properly. For instance, some tapes need to be applied in half-lapped layers when re-insulating a connector and hasty application could lead to inconsistency, gaps and potentially a failure.
Choosing the right tape for the application and then making sure it is applied properly may seem like a small step, but it is one that can save time, reduce unnecessary costs, prevent mistakes and help to contribute to a successful project.