Wiring Heat Tape To Dimmer Switch - Rheostatby Richard Brooks
Click the images for a larger view.
Wiring heat tape, or any electrical device can be dangerous. If the instructions are not followed correctly, electrical shock or fire could occur. If you are not comfortable wiring the heat tape to the rheostat (dimmer switch) on your own, please find someone who is qualified to do it for you.
Please read all of this guide before you begin wiring.
Installing a dimmer switch is fairly simple when you understand how it functions. Most dimmer switches are installed the same way, so you should be able to apply this to just about any model you purchase.
For this tutorial, we will focus on a rotary dimmer with the rotary on/off option. Do not confuse this with the rotary dimmer switch that needs to be pushed on and off. Those require you to touch the heat panel to ensure they are on, and can accidentally be turned off if bumped.
The dimmer switch you purchase will likely have 3 wires. One of those wires is the ground, and the other 2 are the "hot" wires. The hot wires are the ones we are going to use. The ground wire is typically green or white and is sometimes labeled as "ground" or "neutral". The hot wires are almost always black.
Wiring a single piece of heat tape to a dimmer switch (rheostat) is exactly the same as wiring a parallel setup to a dimmer switch. Since a picture says a thousand words, you should click the image that best describes what you are trying to accomplish.
Heat Tape Wired To Rheostat (Dimmer Switch)
As you can see by the images, only one wire actually gets connected from the dimmer switch to the heat mat, and from the power cord to the dimmer switch. That's because electricity requires a continual path of travel in order to work. If any part of that path is
interrupted (the dimmer switch), the electrical current is altered.
Since the typical dimmer switch has 2 hot wires, it is fairly simply to wire it into a piece of hate tape.
The first thing you want to do is strip the wires as they are shown on the left. Laying out the power cord, dimmer, and heat tape as depicted in the image may help keep you organized.
Now you want to twist the wires together, and cap them with a wire nut as they are shown in the image to the right.
I prefer to also use electrical tape around the connections. I will push the wire nut against one side of the wire running into it, and then tape it to that wire until none of the wire nut is exposed. You don't need to do this step if the wire nut is firmly in place. It just adds some additional security.
If you had wired this exactly as it is outlined in the image to the right, your dimmer switch would now be operational. For safety and
aesthetical purposes, that is not how you would want the dimmer switch to remain. The dimmer switch should be placed in a housing unit. For a single dimmer switch, a single gang box should be used. A gang box is what you have installed in your home that houses every outlet and light switch you have.
Typically you would mount the gang box to the enclosure, or to an external control panel.
We outlined the wiring like we did so you could get a clear understanding of how the wires go together.
As you can see to the right, in the image, the wires coming from the heat tape and power cord enter through the back of the gang box. (Or through the sides depending on the style you purchase.) With the wires now coming through the opening on the front of the gang box, you can wire the dimmer switch in. Once the dimmer switch has been wired in, you push the capped wires into the gang box and screw the dimmer switch in place. To complete the assembly, you would now put the face plate over the dimmer switch, screw it in place, and add the knob.
You have just wired in a means to control the heat output of your heat tape.