Electrical tape is a must-have for any electrician or DIYer, offering secured connections and insulation to wires. It’s made with either PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PE (polyethylene) or fibreglass cloth outer layers, with a sticky adhesive on the inner layer that holds the tape together. It stands apart from other tapes due to its unique and extraordinary properties. But, how safe is electrical tape? Does it stop electrical current or are you still at risk of electrocution, we answer all those questions plus more in this blog so let’s get started…
In terms of safety, electrical tape is designed to prevent electric shocks, particularly where two conducting surfaces are in close physical contact and exposed to the elements. The tape helps contain the electrical current by providing a layer of insulation that effectively prevents it from escaping. This means that you won’t be exposed and no short circuits will occur.
Most high-quality electrical tapes are rated for up to 600 volts and can be used in both indoor and outdoor installations. They also provide a level of UV protection, helping the tape last longer when exposed to direct sunlight or other harsh environmental conditions.
That doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe from all electric shocks while using electrical tape, however. If you’re working with high-voltage wiring, you should always use the proper safety equipment such as non-conductive gloves and eye protection to prevent electric shocks. It’s also important to make sure that your electrical connections are properly sealed with electrical tape and the wires are securely fastened. This will help ensure that the current does not escape or cause any damage.
Is it safe to put electrical tape over exposed wires?
Although it’s a common practice to use electrical tape as an insulation layer over exposed wires, it should only be done if the wires carry a very low voltage. Ideally, it should only be used as a temporary solution for cut wires.
Electrical tape is designed to provide a secure and temporary connection between two conducting surfaces, but it is not meant to replace the insulation that should be placed around the wire itself. If you have exposed wires, the safest thing you can do is to replace the insulation or use a special junction box to house them until a more permanent solution can be put in place. Leaving the wires exposed can place you at risk of personal injury and/or constantly tripping your safety switch.
If you undergo an electrical safety audit, one of the items that would be checked as part of the safety testing is whether or not you have any exposed electrical wires, or whether they have been incorrectly connected or patched with electrical tape.
Can electrical tape catch fire?
In general, electrical tape is quite flame resistant and unlikely to catch fire. However, it is important to note that over time the adhesive on the tape may become dry and brittle, making it more susceptible to catching fire if exposed to an open flame. It’s also important to keep in mind that electrical tape should not be used near high temperatures, such as in an oven or near a stove.
Keep in mind that most major brands of electrical tape will not catch fire easily (generally, they can withstand temperatures up to around 80 degrees Celsius), but many varieties of insulation tape will burn if they get hot enough. Utilising the electrical tape wisely and properly can greatly reduce the risk of combustion, but ultimately it depends on the specific application and type of tape. It terms of brands we would recommend, have a look at 3M Scotch Super 33+ Electrical tape.
Scotch 3M Vinyl Electrical Tape
Does electrical tape block all electricity?
No, electrical tape does not block all electricity. While it does provide insulation and protect against short circuits, it cannot completely stop the flow of current. Electrical tape is designed to contain the current and prevent shocks from travelling from one surface to another. However, in cases where there are high-voltage currents or large amounts of electricity involved, additional insulation should be used to ensure the current does not escape.
Reduced voltage levels, like those found in residential or commercial settings, are the only levels where this is effective. If the voltage is high enough, it can go through any material: for example, electrical tape does nothing if wrapped around a transmission line at 500,000 volts.
For example, Super 33 is a type of tape that, when wrapped in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions (100V per wrap, overlapping by quarter inch at 60hz and 75°C), can effectively insulate against lower voltage levels at standard frequencies.
What is the correct way to use electrical tape?
When taping, it is essential to use a quality product and stretch the tape beyond its unstretched width – at least 75% – overlapping each wrap by half. This will ensure that the current wrap covers no less than half of the previous layer. Be sure to double up on the tape, completely overlapping each layer, and that there are no air pockets trapped beneath it. When you come to the last wrap, make sure to adjust the tension prior so that when you cut it (as opposed to breaking it) its efficacy is not compromised. Once your scissors have gone through all of the tape, leave a 1/2 inch at the end and then press down with your thumb in order for it to regain its normal length. If you follow those steps you’ll find the tape can last years (depending on the environment it is used in).
Overall, electrical tape is a great way to safely insulate wires and keep electric currents contained. While you should always take the necessary precautions when working with electricity, such as wearing protective gear, using high-quality electrical tape is a great way to ensure your safety in any wiring job.