best electrical tape

A Complete Guide To Electrical Tape (Best Electrical Tape of 2024)

Last updated on February 27th, 2024.

Hearing someone call for “33” left me puzzled at first. Turns out, electrical tape’s uses go way beyond just color coding wires or prepping for a wire pull.

Conductors wrapped in electrical tape can sometimes look messy, as if done without care. Let’s dive into how to use electrical tape correctly, understand the different types available, and know when it’s best not to use it.

The tapes in the market today are highly versatile and offer long term performance in electrical insulation, adhesion, and corrosion resistance.

Most Common Electrical Tapes that Electricians Use Daily

Exploring the most common electrical tapes, electricians lean on 3M brand tapes for their reliability, though each type has its specific uses and limitations. These include the 3M Super 33, 3M Super 35, and 3M Super 88.

3M General Purpose Vinyl Tape

3M Vinyl Tape 764, General Purpose, 3 in x 36 yd, White, 1 Roll, Light Traffic Floor Marking Tape,...
  • CREATE SOCIAL DISTANCING MARKINGS: Cost effective choice for creating queues for waiting areas or to make lanes in aisles in a fast, easy, and efficient way
  • COST EFFECTIVE CHOICE for a variety of safety marking and color coding applications where you don’t see tough conditions or the need for long-term clean removal
  • FORGET PAINT: No need to shut down, mask, paint, and wait for it to cure. Instead of wasting hours on costly downtime, quickly lay down lines of tape and quickly reopen vital areas in light traffic areas

This general-purpose electrical tape is useful for color-coding or “phasing” wires, motors, or preparing a wire head before a pull. The super durable vinyl resists typical wear and tear, and the flexible backing has a rubber-based adhesive that bonds even to irregular surfaces.

As an electrician, this is your typical “go-to” tape for just about anything.

3M Super 33+ Electrical Tape

Scotch Super33 7100002398 Super 33+ Vinyl Electrical Tape, 66 ft, Black, 3/4" X 66'
  • The tape's pressure-sensitive, rubber-resin adhesive and a durable PVC backing provide great protection
  • Stands up to the elements: from UV rays and moisture to alkalis, acids and corrosion
  • Tape dimensions: 3/4 in x 66 ft x 7 mil

The 3M Super 33+ is a top quality premium grade vinyl electrical insulating tape. When working on the job you may hear the older electricians call out for some “33” if they need to re-insulate a nicked wire.

This is the most common “go-to” tape in the electrical industry.

Applications for Use:

Its primary duty is for electrical insulation for all wire and cable splices up to 600 V and 220°F (105°C)

Key Features:

  • Excellent electrical insulating properties for up to 600 Volt applications.
  • This extremely light tape has an aggressive adhesive and elastic backing that ensures easy, water-resistant conformation to even irregular surfaces.
  • An all-weather tape that performs brilliantly whether in cold or hot conditions. Its ideal operating range is from 0ºF (-18ºC) to 220ºF (105ºC).
  • It offers great resistance to abrasion, corrosion, acids, alkalis and moisture.
  • It is suited for both indoor and outdoor usage.

The fact that it is compatible with solid dielectric insulation and is ideal for splicing components of up to 600V. It can be used to offer protective jacketing for high-voltage cables and random wire harness as well.

3M Super 35 Electrical Tape

Scotch Vinyl Color Coding Electrical Tape 35, 3/4 in x 66 ft, Red
  • MULTI-CLIMATE USE: Resistant to abrasion, moisture, alkalis, acids, corrosion and varying weather conditions
  • VERSATILE: Can be used for a variety of applications, including industrial, commercial and residential environments
  • LONG LASTING: Durable tape has a 5-year shelf life

The 3M Super 35 color coding tape is an electrical grade tape that is used for phase identification and to color code motor leads. The 0.178 mm thick tape has a pressure-sensitive rubber adhesive and has an array of nine colors to use in labeling and electrical cable coding.

This all-weather tape offers good electrical insulation and is highly resistant to moisture and corrosion. It’s relatively easy to unwind and smoothly wraps around the cables or wires and conforms well to irregular surfaces.

3M Super 88 Electrical Tape

3M Scotch Vinyl Electrical Tape Super 88, 3/4 in x 44 ft, Black, 1 roll, Premium Grade, Rubber Resin...
  • FLAME-RETARDENT: Withstands a temperature range of 0 to 221F (-18 to 105C)
  • THICKER FOR HEAVY DUTY USE: Thicker while remaining conformable for a smooth wrap every time
  • PROTECTS IN EXTREME CONDITONS: Use indoors or outdoors for electrical conductor protection and UV protection

The Super 88 is the other premium grade electrical tape. The 0.2mm thick extremely light tape has an elastic PVC backing and performs excellently even in the harshest of weather conditions.

It offers great resistance to abrasion, moisture, alkalis, acids, UV rays, and corrosion. Its weight makes it easy to carry around and is extremely easy to unwind. The pressure-sensitive rubber adhesive is easy to elongate and provides conform-ability to irregular surfaces.

It is ideal for primary electrical insulation of wire and splices of up to 600V. It can also be used to insulate fixed wire joints rated up to 1000V and can also harness cables. Most electricians prefer to use this tape outdoors.

We all know how important it is to correctly insulate electrical components. It’s not only a safety measure but also reduces interactions of with foreign agents like water.

Electrical tape works best when it conforms to the object it is being applied to. So, when you apply electrical tape to a cord, piece of wire, or anything else, stretch the tape as you wrap. The tape will adhere better and will provide more insulation protection than when it is applied loosely. Check out this guide from ECM about the lost art of taping skills.

Choosing The Right Electrical Tape for Each Task.

Selecting the appropriate electrical tape can be tricky, especially for new apprentices. The choice hinges on the tape’s intended use, the environmental conditions, and the electrical current it needs to insulate against.

There are three primary types of materials used to make electrical insulation tapes – rubber, vinyl, and mastic.

Cambric is also used to make varnished tapes but it’s very rare in the market today.

Rubber tapes are generally non-adhesive and are used as an effective moisture barrier and offer great electrical insulation.

Vinyl is the most effective and widely used material in making tapes. They are normally used as the outer layer of insulation in electrical tapping because they are long-lasting and very flexible.

Their versatility allows them to be used for various important purposes.

Mastic is used to make mastic pads that are sandwiched between layers to form the second layer of the insulation assembly.

From electrical insulation, abrasion protection to corrosion resistance, vinyl tapes come in different grades. Vinyl tapes offer great conform-ability, are extremely easy to unwind, and don’t lose their adhesiveness even in the most extreme of weather conditions.

Here’s an excellent reference to download on your phone from 3M – 3M Electrical Tapes Chart.

It’ll give you product descriptions and which type of applications it’s used for.

About Thomas Hawkins

I run Electrician Apprentice Headquarters, a one-stop-shop for learning how to become a licensed electrician in the USA. I'm a licensed Master Electrician with over 20 years experience working in the Mining & Construction industries. Why do I do it? Well, because even plumbers need heroes.

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