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Best Electrical Tape

Updated June 2023
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
3M Scotch Electrical Tape
3M
Scotch Electrical Tape
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

This commercial-grade option provides strong, durable adhesion.

Pros

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Rubber tape withstands up to 194 degrees. Durable yet flexible. Tape smoothly conforms to surfaces. The tape is 3/4 inches wide. Can block light.

Cons

This tape may leave some adhesive behind if removed.

Best Bang for the Buck
AmazonCommercial Electrical Tape
AmazonCommercial
Electrical Tape
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

This model comes in multiple colors to accommodate a wide range of projects.

Pros

Flexible vinyl electrical tape measures 1/2 inches wide. Pieces can be torn by hand. Comes in various colors. Flame-resistant and water-resistant.

Cons

Some users found this tape doesn’t stick as well in lower temperatures.

Duck Professional Electrical Tape
Duck
Professional Electrical Tape
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

This professional-grade option is strong enough to tackle any electrical project.

Pros

Vinyl electrical tape is 3/4 inches wide. Strong adhesion. Water and flame-resistant. Suitable for up to 600 volts. Designed for use between 14-176 degrees.

Cons

This electrical tape is not as stretchy or flexible because of its heavy construction.

Lichamp Black Electrical Tape
Lichamp
Black Electrical Tape
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Best for Experts
Bottom Line

This 10-pack is industrial-grade and suitable for electricians.

Pros

UL-listed electrical tape designed for professional and DIY projects. Insulated and protective. Suitable for use between 0-176 degrees. Rated up to 600 volts.

Cons

A few consumers noted a slight chemical smell to this tape.

Cambridge Vinyl Electrical Tape
Cambridge
Vinyl Electrical Tape
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Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

High-quality option is available in 7 colors.

Pros

Includes 6 rolls of UL-listed, professional-grade, lead-free electrical tape. Flame-resistant. Resistant to UV, water, and oil. Temperature rated between 14-176 degrees.

Cons

The adhesion of this product is not as strong as other brands.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

54
Models
Considered
193
Consumers
Consulted
16
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for best electrical tape

Although electrical tape may not be as well-known or versatile as duct tape, it still remains one of the most important types of tape. It insulates wires and other electric-conducting materials. Electricians rely heavily on electrical tape, as it performs tasks that other tapes simply can’t do safely.

This type of tape works to insulate wires, separate wires, secure wires, or repair minor damage to wires. When you need to color-code certain wires at a junction box or light switch, you can apply a ring of colored electrical tape near the end of the wire.

Beyond electrical uses, some people use this tape for arts and crafts or on sporting equipment because of the different colors available and because of the natural flex that it has.

Shopping for the right type of electrical tape can be a bit of a challenge for the non-professional since so many options are available. Learning more about the types available and having product recommendations ensures you end up with the best tape for the job you have at hand.

hans using electrical tape
Before vinyl plastic became available in the 1940s, electrical insulating tape consisted of cloth tape.

Types of electrical tape

Vinyl

Vinyl electrical tape is the most common type of tape in use for a wide range of projects. Vinyl is a durable and long-lasting tape. It has adhesive on one side to attach to the object or electrical wire.

It’s a highly flexible type of tape, which makes it easier to apply the tape tightly to the desired surface. It’s waterproof, but it doesn’t perform well in low temperatures.

PVC

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tape is very similar to vinyl electrical tape in that it has plenty of flexibility and uses adhesive. It works well for outdoor applications, as it can withstand low temperatures.

Some people refer to vinyl and PVC tape as the same type of tape, even though they differ in how they operate in cold weather.

Rubber

Rubber electrical tape typically doesn’t have any adhesive on one side. Instead, it uses its own elastic tension to hold itself in place.

You wrap the rubber tape around a wire, taking care to overlap the tape so that it touches itself. By keeping the tape taut while applying it, it creates the tension needed to install it.

Rubber tape offers water resistance, which is helpful when the tape may have exposure to high-humidity environments.

Mastic

Mastic electrical tape uses a soft or spongy layer that sits between the adhesive and the backing. This gives mastic tape impressive flexibility for use in tight spaces.

The backing on mastic tape can consist of vinyl or rubber, but some versions of mastic tape have no backing.

Mastic tape is resistant to moisture and to UV rays, so it works well for outdoor applications.

hands using electrical tape
DID YOU KNOW?
For electrical tape to have approval for electrical applications, it needs to carry a logo from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), at a minimum.
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Best features in electrical tape

Colors

Although black is the most common color for electrical tape, several other colors are available. Unlike duct tape, where the colors and patterns are for fun or for matching the item where you’re applying the tape, electrical tape colors signify different features. (The colors and usage requirements listed here fit standards for the United States).

  • Black: General usage, including for low-voltage phase A applications and insulation
  • Blue: Low-voltage phase C applications
  • Brown: High-voltage phase A applications
  • Gray: High-voltage neutral applications
  • Green: Earth ground
  • Orange: High-voltage phase B applications
  • Red: Low-voltage phase B applications
  • White: Low-voltage neutral applications
  • Yellow: High-voltage phase C applications

Grade of materials

Higher-quality electrical tape costs more than lower-quality tape. Depending on the type of application and on the needs of the project, purchasing a higher-quality tape may be necessary.

A tape that includes better materials increases its performance and longevity. Higher-quality tape also can create a tighter seal and can resist corrosion better than lower-quality tape.

  • Thickness: Thicker tape creates a greater level of insulation than thinner tape.
  • Backing: The backing of the electrical tape consists of either a monomeric or polymeric design. Polymeric backings last longer and provide higher durability than monomeric backings.
  • Dielectric strength: Tape that has a higher electrical strength as an insulator (also called dielectric strength) delivers better quality.

Match building codes

When using electrical tape for a particular project that requires permits and that must match building codes, select tape that fits the requirements of the code. A cheap, off-brand roll of tape may not be up to code, for example.

At the very least, the majority of codes require that the tape contains UL and CSA logos, which ensure quality.

3M developed the modern version of electric tape using vinyl plastic, applying for a patent in 1946.

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How much does electrical tape cost?

When comparing the cost of electrical tape rolls, it’s important to look at a couple of things. Most importantly, study the linear length of tape on the roll. Some rolls are 20 feet in length, while others may be 100 feet. An average roll of tape measures about 50 feet in length. Calculating the cost of electrical tape by linear foot is a good way to compare different products.

Wider tape and thicker tape cost more than narrower and thinner tape. Specialty rolls of tape often have a higher cost than a typical roll of black tape.

Inexpensive

The least expensive tape costs two to five cents per linear foot. This may be a non-name brand tape. Some non-black tapes, such as white, have properties that allow them to fit in this price range.

Mid-range

An average roll of tape costs five to 12 cents per linear foot. This is a common price for a roll of brand-name black electrical tape. For thicker rolls of black tape, you may need to purchase multiple rolls to receive a price at the low end of this range.

You may be able to find some sets of multiple rolls of electric tape in different colors that fit in this price range too. For someone who does electrical work that requires different types of tape, a “rainbow set” of tape may be a good choice in this price range.

Expensive

The priciest tape costs 12 to 50 cents per linear foot. Buying a single roll of brand-name black tape can fall into the lower end of this price range. Certain types of specialty tape also fit in this price range, such as brown tape.

hands using electrical tape
DID YOU KNOW?
The original brand name for 3M’s electrical tape was Scotch Brand No. 33 tape, and many models of Scotch electric tape continue to use “33” in the name today.
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How to use electrical tape safely

Because electrical tape has a design made specifically for use around electrical wiring, you may believe its design is perfectly safe for any use case. However, you need to follow a few steps to make using the tape as safe as possible.

  • Select the right model. Different types of tape have certain safety benefits, and it’s important to match those benefits to the job at hand. For example, some models of tape are safer for exposure to high temperatures than others.
  • Overlap the tape. When applying the tape around a wire, overlap about half the width of the tape across the tape you already applied. This one-half overlap ensures you have no gaps.
  • Pull the tape tight. Electrical tape often has a bit of stretchiness or flexibility to it. While wrapping it around the wire, you should pull on the tape and stretch it slightly. The tape has a greater insulative property when stretched tight versus when applied loosely.
  • Only cover minor abrasions on cords. Although it’s tempting to use electric tape to try to repair a badly damaged power cord, this can be dangerous. However, small cuts in the cord’s insulation or abrasions on the insulation are repairable by covering them in electrical tape.
  • Replace your roll of tape occasionally. If you have a roll of tape that’s been sitting in the drawer for more than five years, it may no longer have the flexible properties you want. Old tape may become brittle as it sits on the roll, meaning it can’t do the intended job as safely.
hands using electrical tape
Electrical tape color codes have slightly different meanings in other countries than they do in the United States.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between Super 33+ tape and Super 88 tape?

A. For Scotch brand electrical tape from 3M, Super 33+ tape measures seven millimeters in thickness (or about 0.007 inches), while Super 88 tape measures about eight-and-a-half millimeters (or about 0.0085 inches).

Q. Do I have to use electrical tape with wiring projects, or can I use any tape?

A. The materials and design of the tape make a difference in whether you can use it safely around electricity and electrical components. Non-electric tape doesn’t have insulating or thermal properties that keep it safe around electricity. This could lead to a fire or a failure of the wiring.

Q. Can I splice wires with electric tape?

A. Although some DIYers may put together two pieces of wire with electric tape when installing a ceiling fan or light switch, this is not a safe choice. Most of the time, splicing two wires for low-voltage systems requires the use of a wire nut for maximum safety. Some people then use tape to hold the wire nut in place by taping the edges of the nut to the insulated wire.

Q. Can electrical tape catch fire?

A. Electric tape likely won’t catch fire like other types of tape may. However, the materials that make up the tape may become soft. The roll then may lose its shape and protective qualities under excessive heat. A PVC model of tape can survive temperatures up to about 175°F, while rubber tape may begin to show signs of degrading at around 220°F.

 

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