We get asked a lot about the difference between electric heat tape and electric heat cable. The answer is that there is no difference. Both descriptions apply to apply to a category of ice dam prevention cable that is run, usually in a zig-zag pattern, along the affected eaves of a home/building (See install info here). The height, or distance that pattern runs up the roof is determined by the depth of the over hang on the home. The deeper the overhang, the higher the pattern needs to travel.
Not all heat tape is created equal. Think about the difference between a Pinto and an Audi. Sure, they are both cars, but they are pretty different in terms of quality. Honesty alert: Some heat tape is absolute crap. It’s the stuff sold at big box stores under the names Easy Heat and Frost King, to name a few. It costs about 1/3 that of the heavy duty material we install every day. Guess what the difference in labor cost is to install crappy heat cable versus quality heat cable? Zero. It costs zero dollars more to install long-lasting, efficient ice dam heat tape than it does the cheap stuff. We replace thousands of feet of lousy ice dam heat tape every year in the Twin Cities market. Time and time again we see the cheap cables have failed because they have either burned out or have deteriorated due to normal UV exposure.
The moral of the story is please, don’t buy cheap ice dam prevention cable. It won’t last long and it costs far more to operate than quality cable.
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