Skip to Content

How Hot Does Heat Tape Get? (All You Need to Know)

If you are from one of those places where you have to face ice jams on pipes from roofs or gutters during the winter, you might know about or use heat tapes. They act as savers during the cold by protecting your property.

If you’re planning to install one, then you should know every detail about heat tapes including their function and usage. But since it’s a product tagged with ‘heat’ you may want to know how hot heat tapes get.

That’s why here we would like to discuss how hot heat tapes may get along with much other information you better learn!

How hot does heat tape get?

Heat tapes start working at a very low temperature. But it functions best in higher temperatures. Usually, heat tapes get 305° F for proper functioning. But some heat tapes can reach up to 1400° F and still be safe. Higher temperatures may sound risky, but they are the most effective ones as well.

Heat tapes are available in many categories depending on the places where they can be installed. Here we will discuss some types of heat tapes and how hot do they get –

Electric heat tape:

Electric heat tapes are more commonly used. They have high resistance, so they convert electricity into high heat. They can reach 300° F to 1400° F in some cases. The higher the temperature is, the effectivity of the heating will increase.

Roof heat tape:

These heat tapes do not get hotter than the outside pipes. Eventually, some may use the same one for both usages. And roof heat tapes can endure up to 1400° F.

Reptile heat tape:

These heat tapes should not cross 105° F if functioning properly, thus said by the manufacturers to check frequently for optimum usage.

Flexwatt heat tape:

Although this heat tape can get a lot of hot, it is advised to use it under 95° F for the best result.

Gutter heat tape:

These heat tapes can get higher as the heat required in this section of the pipes requires lots of concentration. As a result, some gutter heat tapes can have temperatures of 150° F to 500° F.

Frost king heat tape:

These self-regulating heat tapes can get up to 150° F hot. But they have an endurance of 900° F.

What temperature does heat tape get to? Can heat tape get too hot?

Heat tapes are conductive wires that can get enough heat to melt ice and are covered with woven fabrics that can endure up to 1400° F.

As heat tapes are used to warm the pipes enough to drain the ices and prevent them from jamming or getting shattered, they must get enough warmth.

Many heat tapes include thermostats. Thermostats can intrigue heat tapes to get turned on or off based on the temperature and heat. Thus, these heat tapes will automatically be turned off if they reach a specific temperature.

What temperature does heat tape turn on?

There are two types of heat tapes. Manual and the other is advanced, self-regulated, and includes a thermostat.

Heat tape does not work efficiently in drastic weather, so people tend to use it when the temperature is comparatively higher and avoid the peak hour of electricity consumption.

While the manual heat tape will require you to turn on the system, ideally, you will turn on the heat tapes only when it is freezing temperature.

But the automated temperature senses out the outdoor temperature and starts when it falls below a specific temperature.

Heat tapes will turn on when the temperature is below 40° F to 38° F. If the outdoor temperature is less than the temperature mentioned above, the thermostat will instantly turn on the heat tape.

And it would typically take 15-20 minutes to get warm enough to melt the ice.

Should heat tape be warm to the touch?

Heat tapes are used in the day to ensure the optimum use of daylight and reduce energy consumption.

It takes a while for heat tapes to get warm when turned on. The temperature heat tapes are used in is very low, and when the pipes are frozen; the duration becomes enough long usually.

Generally, it takes 20 minutes for heat tapes to get warm enough to work on the pipes. But by then, the heat tapes can become very warm to touch by a human.

However, if you touch the heat tape after 10-12 minutes of turning it on, you should feel that the heat resistors are active and the heat tapes are getting warm. Otherwise, you should check with the circuit and connections, even electricians. 

If you plug the cables correctly, indicator lights will show the heat tape is working.

How does heat tape work?

Heat tape works great against ice jams and preventing exposed parts of the pipes from breaking out during winter. Heat tapes are broadly resistive heaters. It converts electricity into heat.

Heat tapes are made of resistive wires. When electricity passes through them, due to the high resistance of the conductor, they generate heat. The exact mechanism is well used in electric stoves.

Being wrapped around the pipes, the heat creates enough warmth to prevent ice jams or collapsing due to the volume increase while frozen. Foam shields are wrapped over the heat tape so that heat can be concentrated on the pipes only.

Many heat tapes include thermostats, which primarily prevent heat tapes from overheating. Thermostats can identify the temperature and decide to switch on or off when reaches a certain temperature. Heat tapes have a well-tested mechanism and are really effective during the cold.

Does heat tape use a lot of electricity?

Heat tapes function on electricity by converting current into heat. Producing heat from electricity usually consumes a lot of energy.

On average, a heat tape will consume 9 watts of electricity per linear foot. That means the energy required for every 100 feet of heat tape is 900 watts an hour. As electricity is sold in kWh units, the energy mentioned is equivalent to 0.9 kWh.

Typically, heat tape is used for 12 hours a day. For that 10.8 kWh energy per 100-foot heat tape is consumed, which is a lot of electricity.

What prevents heat tape from getting too hot?

Too hot heat tape can cause damage to your system. Thus, it is preferred to maintain a stable temperature for heat tapes. There are many ways you can make sure your heat tape does not get too hot.

You must ensure you have wrapped the tape around the pipe during the installation, maintaining an even distance between each wrap. Many use zig-zags wrapping, which is risky. 

It allows the concentration of heat in different intersects, increasing the temperature of heat tape too much then you require.

Many also use different methods, such as using a thermostat

A thermostat has a unique ability to turn the system on or off according to temperature; using this allows you to turn off the heat tape when it has reached a certain temperature and turn it on when the temperature has fallen again.

How to use heat tape?

Installing a heat tape is not a complicated process. But if you follow some simple yet efficient steps given below, that would allow you to use heat tape the most effective as it gets.

Choose the suitable tape:

Heat tapes do not come in a one-size-fits-all model. The material of your pipe and its location in the house must guide you to choose appropriate heat tape for your use.

Clean the pipe:

Cleaning the pipe is an important task. It is required not only for increasing the efficiency of the heat tapes but also, by doing this, you can get rid of potentially flammable materials and set fire to the whole system.

Wrap the tape:

Carefully wrap the tape around the pipe. Make sure you maintain a similar gap between each wrap, and the total pattern does not overlap, intersect or concentrate on a single place as it will provide uneven heat.

Shield the wrap:

If you cover the total system with foam pipe insulation, it will allow you to concentrate heat on the pipe and reduce energy loss. It will also keep the pipe warmer even when you have turned the heat tape off.

Connect to power:

Now, plug the tape into the power supply. And if your tape has an automatic system, it will start when the pipe has a temperature under a certain number.

Final Thoughts

There is no alternative to heat tapes to keep the pipes safe from ice jams and collapsing. Various heat tapes have different capacities. Usually, they work between 95° F to 900° F. But on average, a heat tape works best at 300° F, and it will operate safely under 1400° F.