Heat Shrink Tubing vs Electrical Tape | Product Knockout

“Our Product Knock-Out series is a match-up between two similar products. In boxing terms, think same weight class, same caliber, same level of experience, and amount of exposure. The purpose of the Product Knock-Out posts are for you to see a side-by-side view of two similar products. These posts will also enable you to understand which one will be crowned champ for your specific purpose. Take your seats and prepare for battle, because the gloves are coming out.”

Heat Shrink Tubing and Electrical Tape are both options used to insulate and protect electrical wires. They both can be used in a variety of applications and come in a variety of colors. As alike as these products may seem, they do have their differences. Let’s take a closer look and see who comes out on top.

What is Heat Shrink Tubing?

Heat shrink tubing is exactly what its name suggests. It is a type of tubing that when heated, shrinks to fit a specific application. The tube starts out larger in size to fit on or around a wire or set of wires. It is then heated to a smaller size which is a pre-determined shrink ratio. Heat Shrink Tubing comes in a range of shrink ratios for a multitude of applications.

In addition to shrink ratio, Heat Shrink Tubing also comes in a plethora of materials. These materials include FEP, Neoprene, Polyolefin, PTFE, PVC, Kynar, and many more. The application determines what material is best used. Different materials boast different qualities. Some materials have higher flexibility properties than others, but others may have better abrasion resistance.

Heat shrink tubing is used in an assortment of applications. These include strain relief, wire bundling, electrical insulation, environmental protection, and identification. Heat shrink can also be used for temporary repairs and preventative maintenance.

M23053 is a specific kind of heat shrink tubing that is most commonly used when military standard is required. This tubing can be used to increase the overall durability of wires, and in protection of outdoor elements such as chemicals, corrosion, water, and surface abrasion. To learn more about this specific type of heat shrink tubing, check out our Allied Encyclopedia article on M23053.

What is Electrical Tape?

Electrical Tape is a type of pressure sensitive tape that is used to insulate and protect electrical wires. It can be made of different plastics such as vinyl, rubber, mastic, and varnished cambric. Vinyl is the most popular and widely used material. Electrical tape has high flexibility and the ability to stretch which allows it to be used in many applications.

Electrical Tape comes in different materials and colors. The most common electrical tape color is black. Electricians use only the black tape, and not colored tape, for insulation. Unlike colored electrical tape, black tape is used for more than one purpose. It can be used for insulation, bundling, repair, and identification. Colored electrical tape is used to indicate voltage and the phase of the wire. This is its primary use. Each color represents either high, low or neutral voltage. When used in wire phasing, the colors tell electricians about the properties of the wires it is being used with.

Heat Shrink Tubing vs. Electrical Tape

Heat Shrink Tubing and Electrical Tape have their similarities, but their differences are what stand out the most. Both materials are used for electrical insulation, come in different colors, and are fairly easy to apply. That is where the similarities stop. Heat Shrink Tubing comes in predetermined shrink ratios. This allows for a more precise fit when applying. It also has more variety of materials that are specific to applications. Electrical Tape has a few different materials, but the most commonly used is vinyl. Heat Shrink Tubing is also more reliable. It will not come off with time or use, where electrical tape will eventually lose its adhesiveness. Electrical Tape will also not perform as well in applications that have a high risk of being affected by outside influences such as chemicals and abrasion. When compared to Heat Shrink Tubing, Electrical Tape is easier to apply and remove. Although both are fairly simple to apply, once heat shrink tubing is shrunk to fit, it will be secure and not as easy to remove as peeling off electrical tape. Electrical Tape also offers a quick way to identify voltage by its many colors and phasing. There is also a standard with Electrical Tape that specifies voltage for each color used in phasing and black tape is known to be the only color used for insulation. These products may seem similar at first, but when they are closely examined, their differences outweigh their similarities.

“Winner by unanimous vote? Instead, it seems as if the match has ended in a technical decision. In this case, it looks like our crowned champ depends on your specific application or use.”

Whether your application calls for something heavy duty like Heat Shrink Tubing, or you need Electrical Tape for simply phasing wires, Allied Wire & Cable is the place to go. Visit our website to submit an RFQ or call us for more information – 800-472-4655.

Allied Encyclopedia: M23053 Heat Shrink Tubing

What is M23053 Heat Shrink Tubing?

M23053 is heat shrink tubing that is used to overall increase the durability of wire and cable. This specific spec is rated to military standards and can be used for military applications. Below this post will discuss some of the specific military lines of M23053 that Allied carries.

M23053 tubing is used to protect wire and cable from external damages. These include chemicals, water, corrosion, and surface abrasion. In addition to protection, heat shrink tubing is also flexible and offers extreme heat resistance. The tubing shrinks to a predetermined size/ratio when heat is applied.

This heat shrink tubing can can be made of various materials. Some of the most popular materials of M23053 heat shrink tubing are Polyolefin, Ethylene-Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), Polytetrafluoroethylene(PTFE), Neoprene, Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF), Kynar, and PVC.

M23053 Applications

Heat shrink tubing can be used in a variety of applications. The most common uses for heat shrink tubing are strain relief, wire bundling, electrical insulation, mechanical protection, environmental protection, and component identification. Heat shrink tubing can also be used for repairs, either temporary or permanent. Different types of heat shrink tubing has different shrink ratios to ensure the proper fit for your application. There are options such as 2:1, 3:1 and 4:1 Your application will determine which shrink ratio to use.

Mil Spec Tubing Options

M23053 is rated to military standards and can be used in military specific applications. Some of the most common M23053 slants are /5 and /6, /11, /13, and Kynar /8.

M23053/5 and M23053/6 are Polyolefin heat shrink tubing. These two slants have excellent resistance to water, fungus and UV light. It can be used in applications for bundling, insulation and protection, water and dust proofing, and shock protection. Shrink ratios for this tubing range from 2:1 to 4:1.

M23053/11 is FEP heat shrink tubing. This slant boasts high heat and non stick components which allows it to make a tight seal around components. It can be used in applications that require excellent chemical resistance, as well as high heat situations. The shrink ration is 1, 3:1.

M23053/13 is Viton heat shrink tubing. This slant is ideal for use where high flexibility is needed in either low or high temperatures. It is also good for use where protection from abrasion, fuels, acids, and solvents are present. The shrink ratio for Viton heat shrink is 2:1.

M23053/8 is Kynar heat shrink tubing. This slant is a semi-rigid and flame retardant, Polyvinylidene Fluoride thin wall tubing. It has great cut through, abrasion, and heat resistance properties. M23053/8 is used for jacketing components, fuse coverings, or where strain relief is needed. The properties of this Kynar tubing allow it to be bent, flexed, or twisted without using its mechanical or electrical strength. It has a 2:1 shrink ratio.

heat shrink tubing, heat shrink, m23053

Heat Shrink Tubing

There are many other options of heat shrink tubing in addition to the ones mentioned above. If you have any questions as to which heat shrink tubing option is good for your application, be sure to check out our Heat Shrink Tubing FAQ page or visit our main Heat Shrink Tubing page to browse on your own. As always, if you have any questions, call us at 800-472-4655.

Allied Encyclopedia – All About Heat Shrink Tubing, Part 2

Allied EncyclopediaIn Part 1 of our guide to heat shrink tubing, we discussed some of the common materials available for heat shrink products. Please refer back to Part 1 to learn more about these materials before continuing on to the second part.

Now we will look at some of their key features to give you a better idea of what each type has to offer, in Part 2:


This is the most popular heat shrink tubing material. It is available in irradiated, flame-retardant, and semi-rigid variations to meet the needs of different applications.

  • Extremely flexible (semi-rigid tubing is less flexible, but ideal for strain relief)
  • Chemical and solvent resistant
  • Low shrink temperature
  • Fast recovery time
  • Available to meet M23053/5 or M23053/6 Read more of this post

Allied Encyclopedia – All About Heat Shrink Tubing, Part 1

Allied EncyclopediaHeat shrink tubing is used in many applications by many industries.It starts as a larger tube, which shrinks to fit around different wire and cable components once heat is applied. It is easy to handle, simple to use, and quick to install. However, with all of the different sizing and performance requirements involved in choosing the correct heat shrink tubing product, it can seem intimidating.

For heat shrink tubing success, you must understand the tubing’s application, how to take the proper measurements, how to differentiate between the materials available, and how to properly install the tubing. This basic guide to heat shrink will cover it all.

Common Uses for Heat Shrink Tubing

Heat shrink tubing is a versatile product that can be used in a wide range of applications. These are some of the most common purposes for heat shrink: Read more of this post

Heat Shrink Tubing How-To: Measuring the Right Size

This entry is the first in our newest series of How-To Videos.  In these videos, we will show you the proper way to handle many common situations you can come across when dealing with wire and cable.  For instance, in this entry, we show you the proper techniques for measuring your cables before ordering heat shrink tubing to ensure a proper fit.  Check out the rest of the entry for written instructions that follow the video.  If there’s any topic you would like to see explained, let us know!

If you can’t see the heat shrink tubing video above, click here to watch it on our website, or here to see it on our YouTube Channel.


Heat Shrink Tubing is a versatile material that can be used for patching, strengthening, sealing and more.  The best part about it is the ease of installation: when heat is applied, it shrinks.  As straight forward as the name is, however, it can be confusing when it comes to ordering your tubing.  Understanding the product is essential to getting the right measurements before you choose your tubing size. Read more of this post

UPDATED: Belden Price Increase Effective Today, Carol Increase Next Week, Alpha in May

UPDATE April 6, 2010: Alpha has also announced  a price increase that will go into effect May 3th.  There will be an approximately 3% increase on Manhattan™ Electrical Cable, Hook-up Wire and FIT® Shrink Tubing & Wire Management products.


Price Increase Alert
We have two increases occurring in the coming week, beginning with one effective today:

  • Belden announced a price increase for their New Generation and other miscellaneous products, effective Monday, April 5 2010.
  • General Cable also announced a price increase for some of their product lines.   There will be an increase of 5-7% on Carol® Brand, Sheer Wire ™ and IsoTec® Brand electronic cables, effective Monday, April 12 2010.

As the price of copper continues to rise, manufacturers will have to follow with product price increases.  Allied will continue to provide up-to-date information on any of these increases as they come in.

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