Wiring Heat Tape
How To Wire Heat Tape
Wiring electrical devices can be dangerous. If the instructions are not followed correctly, electrical shock or fire could occur. If you are not comfortable doing this project on your own, please find someone who is qualified to do it for you. Herp Center and myself hold no responsibility for injuries occurring as a result of using this information. Use at your own risk.
Wiring Heat Tape
For individual enclosures, the wiring is fairly straight forward. When wiring multiple units in parallel, it can get a bit confusing. Below we describe the methods for both techniques.
Heat Tape Supplies List
Insulator Clip Set
Cutting Heat Tape
Cutting Flexwatt There is a right and wrong way to cut heat tape. It is important to cut the tape where it is designed to be cut, and not through a heating stripe.
Calorique, a manufacturer and retailer of heat tape has dashed "cut here" lines on their tape. As you can imagine, this is where you should be making your cuts.
If the heat tape you purchased doesn't come with a "cut here" line, use a bit of common sense and cut between heat stripes. All of the tapes I have ever used have a wider space between pieces around the 12" mark. This is an ideal location to make your cuts.
Cutting through a heat stripe is extremely dangerous. The heat stripes are electrical conductors. A cut heat stripe leaves the possibility for electrical shocks and fire.
Any exposed bus bar (View the image to the right to see where the bus bar is.) MUST be sealed to prevent shock and fire. This can be accomplished using the electrical tape or other approved sealant.
The first step to wiring heat tape is to attach the metal connectors to the bus bar. The crimping tool will create the perfect connection, but they can be attached using other tools. I have personally used pliers.
Regardless as to what you use, make sure the connection is strong and secure.
Once you believe you have made a strong connection that will not come loose, give it a test pull. There should be NO play at all if the connection is solid.
If there is play, you should attempt to reclamp the connector applying more pressure. (The crimping tool is designed to create the perfect connection and will not release until a solid connection has been made.)
The next step is to attach the wiring to the heat tape connector you just attached to the heat tape. Again, you can use the crimping tool for this (which you should if you have it), or you can use a pair of pliers as I have done in the past.
If your wire isn't pre-stripped, you will need to do this. Striping wire is pretty easy and can be done a variety of ways. The ideal method is to use wire strippers if you have them in your tool box. If you dont, scissors or a razor knife can be used. (Use extreme caution so you do not injure yourself.) The idea is to remove 1.5 - 2" of the plastic coating over your wires. Once the wire inside is exposed, twist it so it is one thick strand and not all of those individual strands. You may need to bend it over itself to make it the proper length to fit inside the end of the connector. Once inside, clamp it in place firmly.
You need to do this for both wires coming from both connectors.
Now you want to cover the connectors with the insulators. This will protect you from getting an electrical shock should you ever come into contact with them. This step is NOT to be skipped. The ends MUST be insulated.
Once I have the Insulator Clips in place and locked, I prefer to wrap them in electrical tape and then down the wire about an inch. I feel this makes for a more solid insulator and helps me feel secure that the clips wont be knocked free at some point.
Those instructions will help you wire a single piece of heat tape to an electrical wire. For heat regulation, a rheostat or thermostat should be used.
The image above shows what a single heat tape wired will look like. Your cord will likely be much longer than the one depicted.
Wiring Parallel Flexwatt A parallel installation is most often required when a rack is in use. This type of wiring allows you to run several strands of heat tape off of a single power cord. As a result, you can also use a single rheostat or thermostat to control these runs of heat tape.
The easiest way to approach a parallel installation is to cut each piece of heat tape to length, and attach the metal connectors.
Once the connectors are attached, place each piece of heat tape where it will go on your rack. (Do not secure the heat tape at this point.) This will allow you to begin the wiring.
You can start at the top or the bottom of the rack and work your way through each piece of heat tape. For a solid connection, you should twist the already twisted ends of your wire together before inserting it into the connector. This wil ensure that both pieces of heat tape have a solid connection. As with the single installation, crimp the wires into place.
It is a good practice to leave yourself some slack in the wires between each piece of tape. This will give you some play when it comes time to secure the wires after installation is complete.
Once all of the wires have been connected to one another, you should be able to now attach your insulator clips as described above.
Your heat tape is now wired to run off of a single power cord.
Author: Richard Brooks
Images - © Calorique