Cold-weather electrical tape is a type of insulating tape used to wrap piping and electrical wire. The two main types of cold-weather electrical tape are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and vinyl. While both types of tapes serve similar purposes, they have differences that may help you choose between the two.
When it comes to cold-weather tolerance, there is a significant difference between PVC and vinyl electrical tape. Vinyl cold-weather electrical tape performs optimally at temperatures between 15 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit. This can make vinyl electrical tape unsuitable for some outdoor applications where temperatures fall below freezing. PVC electrical tape has the same heat tolerance as vinyl tape but can withstand temperatures that fall as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit, making it much better suited to cold-weather use.
PVC cold-weather electrical tape is often much better suited for outdoor use. The tough outer layer of PVC stands up well to all sorts of physical abuse, including abrasion, metal corrosion and all manner of weather conditions. This type of durability makes PVC cold-weather electrical tape well suited for wrapping outdoor and underground piping. Vinyl cold-weather electrical tape is waterproof and durable and suited for outdoor use. But for the best protection in the areas with the most abuse, PVC cold-weather electrical tape may be ideal.
Vinyl cold-weather electrical tape is most commonly used for indoor or enclosed electrical and mechanical repairs. It stands up well to metal corrosion as well as alkali and acid chemical leaks. Vinyl cold-weather tape can also be purchased at varying dielectric strengths, making it suitable for insulating even high-voltage wires over an extended period. PVC cold-weather electrical tape provides some protection in these situations, but you should read its label carefully to ascertain its dielectric strength before using it to insulate active wires.
You don't always have to choose between vinyl and PVC cold-weather electrical tape. Many companies make a hybrid tape that combines the benefits of both types of electrical tape. This tape is often simply called vinyl or PVC tape. To determine whether you're dealing with a hybrid tape, read the label. Some vinyl or PVC tape is actually vinyl electrical tape coated with a durable PVC backing. This hybrid tape combines the weather resistance of PVC tape with the chemical resistance and high dielectric strength of vinyl tape. For exact specifications, read the tape's label carefully.