The differences between heat cable and heat tape

Heat cable and Heat tape are designed to keep pipes from freezing, maintain the temperature of the contents of pipes and melt snow and ice off of roofs and in drains, rain gutters, and downspouts. And some people buy the wrong item because without knowing the difference between the heating cable and heat tape.
Different flexibility
Heat cable is somewhat stiff, but it’s pliable enough to wrap it around your pipes, and it does not shrink; Heat tape is extremely flexible and is well suited to conforming to very tight contours where high temperatures are needed, therefore it’s better for tight contours and oddly shaped pipes.
Different temperature controls
Heat cable has two varieties: self-regulating or constant wattage. Self-regulating heating cable does just what its name implies, it can automatically adjust its’ power output to compensate for temperature changes. This is an advantage because it means it will not overheat, making it perfect for freeze protection on pipes.
For heat tape and constant wattage heat trace cable, you will need controllers to regulate them, as they will overheat. Constant wattage heat cable does not control its own temperature. It’s always “on” therefore an external controller must be used to control the amount of heat it produces.
And heat tape also cannot be cut to length or terminated in the field so it must be ordered at specific lengths.
Different usage
Another difference is the way they must be wrapped around pipes. Of all the two types, the one you need to be most careful about is the heat tape. It needs to be wrapped perfectly and tight around each pipe. The reason is that if there is even a small segment of tape with both sides exposed to the air, that particular segment will not transfer heat beyond that point and the tape will overheat and break down.

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