Heat Shrink Tubing Sizes and Colour

A Three-Part Guide to the Sizes and Colours of Heat Shrink Tubing


Heat shrink tubing is an essential component in electrical, automotive, and DIY projects. It provides insulation, protection, and organisation for wires, cables, and various components. Choosing the right heat shrink tubing size and colour is crucial to ensure a successful and efficient project. This 3-part guide will help you make the right decisions when selecting heat shrink tubing for your needs.


Key Characteristics of Heat Shrink Tubes

Heat shrink tubing, also known as heat shrink sleeves or heat shrink wrap, possesses several key characteristics that make it a versatile and useful material for various applications. Here are some key characteristics of heat shrink tubing:


  1. Shrink-ability: The ability to shrink when exposed to heat, conforming snugly to the object it covers, providing insulation and protection.
  2. Insulation: Heat shrink tubing is an excellent insulator, protecting wires and components from electrical currents and preventing short circuits.
  3. Protection: It offers mechanical protection against abrasion, moisture, chemicals, and environmental factors, prolonging the life of wires and cables.
  4. Material Variability: Heat shrink tubing is available in various materials, each with specific properties suitable for different applications.
  5. Environmental Resistance: Depending on the material used, it can be resistant to UV radiation, moisture, oils, and chemicals, making it suitable for outdoor and harsh environments.


Part 1: Heat Shrink Tubing Sizes


1.1 Diameter

  • Size Matching: Measure the size of the wire or object you want to protect. Get heat shrink tubing that's a bit larger in diameter than what you're covering. It'll shrink and snugly fit when heated.
  • Common Sizes: Heat shrink tubing comes in various common sizes, from very small (1/16 inch or 1.6mm) to quite large (2 inches or 50mm). Smaller sizes are for single wires, while bigger ones work for bundles and connectors.
  • Shrink Ratio: Check the packaging for the shrink ratio, like 2:1 or 3:1. It tells you how much the tubing will shrink compared to its original size when heated.

1.2 Length

  • Measure the Area: Figure out how long the section you want to cover is. Make sure to buy enough tubing to easily cover that whole length.
  • Standard Lengths: Heat shrink tubing is usually sold in standard lengths like 6 inches, 12 inches, or longer. Pick a length that suits your project to avoid wasting material.


Part 2: Heat Shrink Tubing Colours

2.1 Functional Considerations

  • Colour Coding: Pick colours that help you easily tell wires or parts apart. One of the primary uses of colour in heat shrink tubing is for colour coding. Different colours can represent different functions, wires, or components within a system.
    For example:

Red: Often used for positive wires or hot connections in electrical circuits.

Black: Commonly used for negative wires or ground connections.

Green: Can be used for grounding or safety-related components.

Blue, Yellow, White, etc.: Used to differentiate between signal wires or to represent specific functions in a system.


  • Visibility: Think about how well you'll see the tubing once it is in place. Dark colours like black can hide things, while lighter colours like white or yellow make stuff more visible.


2.2Material and Environment

  • UV Resistance: The colour of heat shrink tubing can impact its UV resistance. Dark colours, like black, tend to absorb more UV radiation and may degrade faster in outdoor or sunlight-exposed applications. Lighter colours, such as white or yellow, are often chosen for their better UV resistance. If your project is outdoors or gets a lot of sunlight, choose tubing that's UV-resistant. It will not lose its colour or quality as quickly.
  • Temperature Resistance: Make sure the tubing's colour can handle the temperatures where you use it. Really hot environments might affect the colour over time.


2.3 Personal Preference Aesthetics

While functionality is essential, you can also choose colours that match your project's aesthetics. Some people prefer clear tubing for a minimalist look. Personalisation: Use different colours to personalize and organize your projects. This can make troubleshooting and maintenance easier.


Part 3: Other Considerations


3.1 Adhesive Lining

  • Waterproof Seal: Some heat shrink tubing has glue inside which seals tightly when heated. Think about this if you're using it outdoors or around water.

3.2 Heat Source

  • Right Tools: Make sure you have the right tools, like a heat gun or oven, to shrink the tubing properly. Safety first when you're heating it up.

3.3 Quantity

  • Buy Enough: Get all the tubing you need in one go. It is usually cheaper to buy in bulk.


Picking the right heat shrink tubing sizes and colours is important for a successful project. Think about the size, colour coding, materials, and where you might use it. Making informed choices, will guarantee that your project is safe and organised.