If you are a hobbyist electrician, you are likely to come across heat shrink tubing as part of your DIY projects. Heat shrink tubing is an essential part of the majority of residential electrical setups. At Wirefy, we work with expert electrical engineers who help answer all your questions about electrical work.
This article will provide a simple overview of the electrical shrink tubing process, its purposes, and its advantages for DIY crafts and handiwork.
What is Heat Shrink Tubing?
Heat shrink tubing is a versatile thermoplastic tube that reacts to heat exposure by shrinking. Bear in mind that heat exposure here is not synonymous with flame exposure. An electrical heat shrink tubing needs to be heated with a heat gun.
The tube consists of 2 layers:
- A core
- A jacket
The tube or sleeve is placed around electrical components, such as wire arrays. It can be used to cover either a bundle of wires or individual wiring. Once exposed to heat, the tube shrinks to fit the contour of the electrical components it encases. After shrinking, the sleeve becomes rigid. This will provide insulation and protection.
Heat shrink tubing elements can come in different widths and lengths to meet the requirements of your electrical installation. It can also be used in either indoor or outdoor environments, which allows it to be heavily utilized and ideal for automotive and marine electrical work.
How Does Heat Shrink Tubing Work?
Are you working with a heat shrink sleeve for the first time? No panic; we are here to guide you through the process.
Choosing A Heat Shrink Tubing - Shrink Ratio
Electrical shrink tubing requires you to understand the shrink ratio, or the ratio between the initial sleeve size and its shrunken format. Typically, shrink ratios are between 2:1 and 4:1, which means that the sleeve will shrink to one-half or one-quarter of its initial size. Higher numbers indicate a greater ratio, which will give you a tighter fit. When considering the shrink ratio, you also want to consider the actual surface that you want to cover with the tube. So, it is important to choose the correct heat shrink tubing size in the correct shrink ratio. Wirefy's best-selling heat shrink tubing roll has a shrink ratio of 3:1, and also offer heat shrink tubing kits with a 4:1 ratio. This allows you to make a perfectly tailored fit for any job, giving you a tighter seal, and optimal durability.
Electrical Component Cover - Heat Shrink Ratio Expandability
As explained above, the sleeve, once exposed to a source of heat, will shrink into a durable and rigid tight cover for the electrical components. One thing you want to understand quickly is how your electrical components will react after application. For instance, if the components are likely to change size, you want to look for heat shrink tubing solutions with enough expandability. This will be done by comparing the shrunken diameter (or recovered diameter) with the pre-shrinking diameter (or expanded diameter).
Another aspect that can affect how rigid the shrunken tubing will be is the heating temperature. Make sure to apply the recommended temperature to the tube for homogenous results. Using too much heat or not enough could lead to uneven application or melting.
Managing Heat Shrink Tubing Size
You are unlikely to find a sleeve in the right length for your application. That’s why it is crucial to work with scissors so you can cut the pre-heated sleeve to the appropriate length to cover all the components. As a rule of thumb, the sleeve should cover all the components comfortably both in length and breadth before being shrunk into place. This should be 20% to 30% larger than the area you need to cover.
- The thickness of the tubing walls
- The inside diameter (pre- and post-shrinkage)
- How much the tube will shrink (shrink ratio)
Applying Heat to Heat Shrink Tubing
When using electrical shrink sleeves, you need to work with a source of heat you can:
- Set to the right temperature range
In DIY applications, handheld heat guns are some of the most commonly used devices. As tempting as it is to use a simple hair dryer instead of a specialist tool, we strongly advise against it.
When using a hand heat gun, make sure to constantly move the device back and forth across the sleeve. If you stay in the same location, you are at risk of causing burns, not only to the heat shrink tubing but also to the electrical components underneath. Continue to apply heat until the tube has fully shrunken and is tightly secured around the targeted components.
Why is Heat Shrink Tubing The Best Solution for Electrical Insulation?
Heat shrink tubing is designed to create a protective layer for your electrical wires during an electrical setup. When the heat shrink tubing has shrunken rigid into place, it insulates the electrical components from external factors.
Heat shrink tubing acts as a thermal insulating layer, protecting your electrical installation from exposure to extreme temperatures.
In the event of a fire, heat shrink tubing can also become a flame retardant and provide further protection to the installation.
Components are safe under the tight sleeve and protected from environmental factors, such as dust, dirt, and UV light.
Exposed components could accumulate signs of wear and tear, scratches, and more. Underneath the heat shrink tubing, they are better equipped to resist shocks and stretches.
Whether you are working in an environment with a high humidity level or your installation is designed for the outdoors, adding a heat shrink sleeve will help protect fragile components from being exposed to moisture.
Similarly, the sleeve doesn’t just keep moisture and water at bay. It can also prevent chemical products from getting in contact with the electrical setup.
Heat shrink tubing is designed to shrink to the desired size and place. The variety of shrink ratios and lengths means they can be used with electrical setups of different sizes and shapes without compromising effectiveness.
Why is Wirefy The Best Heat Shrink Tubing Supplier?
With a range of heat shrink tubing kits in many sizes, shrink ratios, and colors, Wirefy has the perfect setup for most residential DIY projects.
Wirefy Heat Shrink tubing comes either in a cut-it-yourself roll or in pre-cut sleeve sets, so from a crafting perspective, you will have no difficulty finding the right product for your needs.
The majority of our tubing has a high shrink ratio for high-quality results and durability.
We are committed to delivering high quality, both when it comes to our products and our customer service. So, in the unlikely event that our heat shrink tubing doesn’t meet your expectations, you are eligible for a return and refund for all unused items in their original packaging and in the condition you received them.