What is electrical tape used for?

What is electrical tape used for?

At cableties-online, we hear a lot of confusion surrounding electrical tape – what it is, what it is used for and what can be used instead. Our latest guide aims to give you all the facts about every electrician’s best friend.

What is electrical tape?

Top of the list in our guide to what every electrician should carry in their toolbox, electrical tape is a pressure-sensitive tape used to insulate wires and materials that conduct electricity. The term electrical tape is a generic one and is in fact used to describe any insulating, adhesive tape used in electrical phasing and wiring.

Is PVC tape the same as electrical tape?

As the word Hoover has become synonymous with the product it is i.e. a vacuum cleaner, so the term PVC tape is used when referring to electrical tape. To clear this up, PVC tape is just one type of electrical tape, manufactured from vinyl, and is the most popular type of plastic electrical tape as it stretches well. However, electrical tape can also be manufactured from materials such as rubber and cloth. 

What is electrical tape used for?

  • Protects and insulates conductive wires and cables
  • Is used as a thermal insulation tape
  • Used to carry out repairs and joins to small wires
  • Protects and insulates electrical connections
  • Can prevent electric shocks and short circuits
  • Used in cable identification (see table below) to differentiate between cables
  • Colour Key for Electrical Tape in the UK


Tape Colour



Insulation, low voltage, neutral


Low voltage, phase B


Low voltage, phase C


Low voltage, phase A


Low voltage, phase B




Earth ground


Features of electrical tape

Electrical tape needs to tick the following boxes to be effective:

  • Moisture resistant
  • Chemical resistant
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Abrasion resistant
  • UV resistant
  • Stretchy so it will wrap tightly around wires
  • Non-conductive
  • Heat- and fireproof
  • Highly adhesive
  • Flame retardant
  • Insulating

Electrical tape from cableties-online

At cableties-online, our electrical tape is PVC tape. Manufactured from polyvinyl chloride, the tape is functional in temperatures as low as -45°C (-50°F), offering excellent harsh weather resistance, and is available in industry recognised colours. Mixed colour packs are also available to buy for your convenience.  

What can I use instead of electrical tape?

There are several safe alternatives to use instead of electrical tape and certain tapes that should never be used in its place.

Safe alternatives to electrical tape

Things to avoid using instead of electrical tape

We would never advise any adhesive tapes to be used as an alternative to electrical tape, as they lack sufficient thermal efficiency and are therefore unsafe. In particular avoid duct tape as it will not insulate or protect against live current and if overheated, risks setting on fire. It will also degrade when exposed to water. Masking tape too should be avoided as an alternative to electrical tape - it is not flexible or stretchy enough to fill in for electrical tape and its adhesive is not strong enough to create an effective bond. It is also an ineffective insulator.

To find out more about our range of tapes and electrical supplies, please call our sales team on 01623 412160 or email us at sales@cableties-online.co.uk