How to Use Heat Shrink Tubing - Guides & Reviews

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Heat, when used constructively, can build many things. That is why people will purchase a heat gun for shrink tubing to protect their cables from abrasion and weather conditions.

A heat gun will also help you to colour code and bundle items or parts of a gadget among many other things. As you will see in the recommendations section, some can even be used to light a charcoal grill!

What most of us do with this tool is heat shrink tubing, the DIY way while at home or commercial use. Those who repair phones and computers will also tell you more about heat guns.

Instead of looking for a technician to explain everything, here is a guide to help you use a heat gun and maximise your results. First things, first, you need the heat gun itself and a source of heat. Once all that is set up, you can now start reading ahead.

What Temperature Is Needed For Heat Shrink Tubing?

temperature heat shrink tubing

Well, that depends on what you are shrinking. On the other hand, for a heat shrink tubing kit to help you work on your rubber and plastic tubes effectively without distorting them, you need a gun that will project the right temperatures for your work.

The minimum temperature that a heat gun should give you is about 90 degrees Celsius which is equal to 194F.

 PVC heat shrinking, for example, will need at least 100 degrees for proper shrinking to happen. Check the materials you are using and see the minimum temperature that you need the heat gun to deliver.

Heat Shrink Tubing Process

Heat Shrink Tubing Process

Once you have acquired the right heat gun for your tasks, proceed on how to use one. If you still don’t know what to go for, there are a few recommendations after this section so, don’t worry about it.

Step one: Get the right size for your shrink tubing task. For you to get a tight and secure fit, you have to makes sure that the diameter of the tube section to shrink is wider than the part you need to insulate. That way, you can shrink to the right size after getting the required size for covering up.

Step two: Once you have the right tube, cut it according to the length requirements and make sure you leave at least a ¼-inch on each side for overlapping over the connected insulator. The tubing shrinks on both broad and length parameters. Be aware of that.

Step three: After getting the right size, slide it over the bare wire (or whatever you are insulating) to provide an appropriate cover. Are you splicing? Move the tube to the middle part of the splice to allow for equal overlapping distances on both sides. 

Step four: We earlier talked about checking the temperature requirements for the tube to be shrunk before purchasing the appropriate heat gun. This is where you now need to apply the temperature knowledge. 

Most of the heat guns used can shrink tubes but uncontrolled heat will either distort the added insulator or physically damage what you are preparing.

Step five: Consider the length of the insulation before turning on the heat gun. If it’s longer, then consider heating on one end and gradually move to the other. At times, when you heat, air bubbles can get trapped as you heat through. Make sure you rotate what you are working on as you burn on it.

Step six: Now, it’s time to apply the heat. Do it over the length and around the insulating tube until you get a uniform shrunken tube that abides by the shape of the hose, wire or splice you want to cover. Once everything is okay, remove the heat gun from the heating area to give room for cooling. 

Tip: Did you know that you can spray silicone on cords or wires properly with no compromise on the shrinking material?

Shrink Tubing Heat Gun Recommendation

1. Genesis GHG1500A Dual Temperature Heat Gun Kit

If you want a versatile heat gun kit that uses both high and low temperatures for all the heating purposes you might need in the house, among other things, then Genesis is here to help you do it.

The dual temperature heat gun is small and compact for hand use, and it delivers 750/1500 watts of power on the lows and highs respectively. 

The propelling 12.5 amp motor supports the high value, but as the coil turns orange hot, there is a circuit breaker to cut out the heat supply after 90 seconds. That only happens on the high end and not the lower heat end.

In the package, you will also get two deflector nozzles to use on glasses and such surfaces, a reflector nozzle to help you thaw the pipes using minimal time, and an air reduction nozzle. 

When operating, there is a green switch where you grip that holds onto three positions; high temperature, off mode and low heat. In case you need to know about the temperature it starts with, this one starts at 572F.

As for the functionalities, this heat shrink tubing kit will give you more than what you are looking for.

Let’s see; it will shrink tubes, strip paint and varnish, soften the caulking before you fill, getting rid of adhesive labels thaw gutters, pipes and freezers, loosening rusted nuts and bolts and the list goes on.

What might surprise you is the ability of the heat gun to light your charcoal grill.

2. Wagner Spraytech HT400 Heat Gun

If you need a smaller heat gun for heat shrink tubing projects, then Wagner Spraytech has a tool that you can easily use with your hands to repair all the spliced wires among other electrical repair issues.

It is a small and compact design that takes the shape of a pencil. With a body to hold and a narrow nozzle to concentrate the heat on one point, you can keep it in place and let the heat do its work from a distance of your choosing. What you need to note is that it uses one temperature setting, 650F or 343 degrees Celsius.

You can use it to apply embossing powders, shrink tubes and do some applique work. Since it is small, it will help you get into tight spots especially if you are working on small motherboards and wires placed in hard to reach areas.

Also, it delivers the heat continually so, you don’t have to worry about inbuilt circuit breakers like the Genesis model above.

As for the power supply, it uses 120V as per the package’s description. You can comfortably use it in low temperatures that without having to worry that the external weather conditions will distort the tubes if you are shrinking.

While it will help you in all those small projects, others disagree on using it on computer motherboards (which are bigger) or heating glass.

3. Mini Portable Heat Gun

Another heat gun that you can enjoy for home use is a mini portable heat gun that you can hold like a pencil, but the body is too large to be compared to a pen.

The outer white covering of this tool is from high-quality ABS plastic while the inner parts have the stainless steel. The combination looks compact and straightforward, yet durable.

The outer white covering of this tool is from high-quality ABS plastic while the inner parts have the stainless steel. The combination looks compact and straightforward, yet durable.

The hot air heat gun also features an internal heat sink that gets rid of the heat when it’s too much, and that prolongs how long you are going to use the heating tool.

It uses 110 volts input, but the power is quite low, at 300 watts. The temperature, after turning it on via the black switch at the top goes up to 200 degrees Celsius or 390F.

The only flaw here is that you cannot use the gun for more than 8 minutes without having to turn it off. So, you will need this gun if your heating works do not demand more than the specified time. If they do, check out the Wagner heat gun.

Despite the few heat limitations, the gun has a bluish replaceable protection cap which aids you in rubber stamping, heat shrinking tasks, embossing powder, using dry paint among other little jobs requiring heat from such a gun.

For the best works, make sure the tool is 3-5cm from the heating position and incline at an angle of about 45 degrees. If you have any problems related to the product, there is friendly customer service that replies within 12 hours.

4. ABN Mini Heat Gun

Auto Body Now is a reliable family-business brand that delivers many tools and here is a mini heat gun for the heat shrink tubing jobs, dry painting, embossing and other works that need heat to stay perfect.

The black minigun is more of a pencil when holding and it is not as large as the previous product above – actually more of the Wagner size.

At the back part is a 65-inch power cord that lets the heat gun roam about your job area with ease. The cable goes to a wall outlet but it is a two-plug so take care of that as you plug in.

After giving it 120 volts from the outlet, it produces 300 watts of power via the built-in safety shield that allows you to heat without damaging the surfaces.

In case the nozzle touches the heated area, the protection will make sure that it does not reach. Once your heating tasks are done, the heat gun can rest on the small supporting bracket just above the nozzle area.

Most of the heat guns do not come with such a specification so, for this one, you don’t have to find a secure place to hang or leave it without having to worry too much.

For applications, it will do what we have mentioned above and other related tasks. Those who have been using it to remove broken screens on smartphones and tablets have found this handy.

However, you cannot use it where heat needs a pin-point concentration since it sprays over a large area.

Safety First

It is always advisable to remember that you are using a heating agent so taking proper precautions is a must. Some ideas would involve wearing some eye protection, a respirator to prohibit you from inhaling the fumes, and wearing some gloves for hands protection.

If you have long hair, tie it at the back and avoid wearing baggy clothes. As you work and protect yourself, make sure the area you are working has proper ventilation. One more thing, it might sound silly but never point the heat gun on yourself.

Conclusion

Now that we have covered the necessary information about using a heat gun and some of the recommendations to look out for, the next part is for you to get a heat gun for shrink tubing.

After purchasing as per your requirements, check if you can solve some of the problems you have been facing at home or work with it. Once you read through the step-wise process, consider the safety measures too since from now on, you will be ‘playing with fire!’

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Abraham
 

This is Abraham. Professional power tools mechanic with years of experience. Writing is my hobby. So I decide to share my experience with people by writing about all types of power tools review and buyers guide that I'm using.

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