Rope and tape heaters are flexible heaters designed to wrap around pipes, beakers, and other round surfaces. Rope and tape heaters are very similar in that they have similar power densities and construction.
The biggest difference is that rope heaters have a rounded cross-section, which decreases the exposure surface and makes heat conduction slightly less efficient, but also allows for less precision in wrapping the heater around the surface being heated. Tape heaters, however, must be wrapped very precisely to ensure that the full flat width of the tape is in constant contact with the surface being heated.
How do Rope and Tape Heaters Work?
Rope and tape heaters are low watt density electrical resistance heaters that generate heat to a surface when voltage is applied. Because rope and tape heaters are constant-wattage products, a temperature controller must be used. Tape heaters are constructed of finely stranded resistance wires fully insulated and knitted into flat tape and encapsulated in a sheath. Rope heaters, while similar, are circular rather than flat. They do not kink or require the same amount of precision when applying them to the surface of an object. It is important that all sections of the rope heater are in contact with the heated object to prevent overheating. Both rope and tape heaters are flexible and can conform to tight contours or odd shapes.
What are the Operating Temperatures of Rope and Tape Heaters?
Standard rope heaters can reach a maximum allowable operating temperature of 900°F with a 120 V supply from 64 to 260 W. Silicone tape heaters can reach maximum temperatures of 450°F. Rope and tape heaters made with high-temperature woven fabric can reach temperatures up to 1400°F.
What are the Applications of a Rope or Tape Heater?
Rope and tape heaters can be wrapped around either conductive or non-conductive surfaces. However, they are generally intended for indoor use and cannot be submerged. Because rope and tape heaters are flexible, they are excellent for use in laboratory, production, or maintenance applications, such as pipes, beakers, and other odd or rounded shapes such as valves. Rope heaters are especially useful for heat tracing applications.