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  1. #1
    Registered User MikeLopez's Avatar
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    Aluminum Foil Tape Conducting Electricity

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to share a video I made that shows why aluminum foil tape is unsafe to use because it does conduct electricity - if you use aluminum frame as your rack it will become completely live if it comes in contact with a live circuit.

    I have my plug wires stripped and connected to thermal rings. The lamp that I used is also applied the same way. The wires and rings are not touching. electricity is passing through the aluminum foil tape.

    I know a lot of you use it on your racks and may want to think twice about using it. I am guilty of doing this with my earlier racks, but have removed it all since finding this out.

    http://youtu.be/pjjIffmbxu4
    Last edited by MikeLopez; 03-12-2012 at 03:01 AM.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran The Serpent Merchant's Avatar
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    It depends what your rack is made of, this isn't an issue if your rack is made from PVC.

    It's really no surprise that aluminum tape conducts electricity, they do make wires from aluminum. As I said above it depends on what your rack is made of. A non conductive material like PVC will make this a nonissue but it certainly could be problematic with a metal rack.
    Last edited by The Serpent Merchant; 03-12-2012 at 03:07 AM.
    ~Aaron

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  3. #3
    Registered User MikeLopez's Avatar
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    Re: Aluminum Foil Tape Conducting Electricity

    The aluminum tape acts like a wire. I don't think having it on pvc will change the conductive properties of the aluminum tape. Melamine is a non conductive material as well so I don't see how this will change for PVC
    Last edited by MikeLopez; 03-12-2012 at 03:09 AM.

  4. #4
    BPnet Veteran The Serpent Merchant's Avatar
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    How are you going to get shocked if you touch a totally insulated material? You aren't. You could hook up 2 live wires directly to a piece of PVC and still not get shocked. It makes absolutely no difference between the flexwatt sitting in the rack and using aluminum tape.

    Think of it this way. If you have a metal rack and the flexwatt is touching it, it will transfer the electricity to the rack with or without the tape. The tape might let a little more power flow, but some will transfer regardless. This is why metal racks are usually grounded. But it isn't an issue at all with racks made of a non-conductive material.
    ~Aaron

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  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran The Serpent Merchant's Avatar
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    Here is a new test that will prove my point. Using the same 4 wires in your video tape them all on their own seperate piece of tape. The only way for the light to go on is if power is sent through the melamine to the other wire. (keep the positive connected to each other and seperate the negative).

    Like this:

    Last edited by The Serpent Merchant; 03-12-2012 at 03:19 AM.
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  7. #6
    Registered User MikeLopez's Avatar
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    Re: Aluminum Foil Tape Conducting Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by The Serpent Merchant View Post
    Here is a new test that will prove my point. Using the same 4 wires in your video tape them all on their own seperate piece of tape. The only way for the light to go on is if power is sent through the melamine to the other wire. (keep the positive connected to each other and seperate the negative).

    if the insulation on the tape and flex watt breaks that's where the problem is. Why risk it?

    if the wire is on all separate pieces of tape it will not conduct electricity to the light (obviously) and the electricity will not pass through the wood.

  8. #7
    Registered User tlich's Avatar
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    What he is saying is wood isn't conductive and electricity won't pass through it at all..

  9. #8
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    If your alum foil tape is conducting electricity then you need to replace your flexwatt as theres a open spot on the flexwatt exposing metal to metal contact.

    And even then you can touch it and wont shock you if its taped to plastic or wood.

    No different if i too a wire plugged it into the wall, and cut the wires and touched the rack with the wires, then toucehd it myself if its pvc or melamine. Wont get shocked once.

    I been using Foil Tape For a long time On certain racks and You should only be taping the edge of the flexwatt down anyways and stay away from the connections if using a metal rack.

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  11. #9
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    So then what is your point? You can't short out flexwatt it's a resistive heating element which means that the + and - are already connected (that's how heat is produced) you can't get shocked by touching the rack, and your chances of getting shocked when touching the flexwatt directly are exactly the same. I fail to see any negative issues with using the tape.
    Last edited by The Serpent Merchant; 03-12-2012 at 03:35 AM.
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  13. #10
    Registered User Alex85's Avatar
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    Re: Aluminum Foil Tape Conducting Electricity

    Mikelopez you are exactly right. It's NOT about whether you can get shocked, and everyone probably already knows that PVC, wood, melamine, etc won't conduct electricity. That is obvious. The real point of the matter is a fire hazard.

    Serpentmerchant, you are right, there is less of a fire hazard with PVC, but the fire risk of hooking up a conducting material (the aluminum tape) to a live circuit (the flexwatt) is still an issue. And you definitely CAN short out flexwatt!!! You can short out ANY circuit by bypassing the load. The load in this case is the heating element, which heats up as current passes through it. All you would need to have happen to create a fire is for aluminum tape to bypass the load and create a live circuit.

    For example, if you are using 4 inch flexwatt, and a 4 inch piece of aluminum tape to secure a probe, there's a chance (over time) of the aluminum piercing through the plastic insulation on both edges of the flexwatt (maybe after bumping it with the edge of the tub hundreds of times. And then you have a live circuit and a SERIOUS fire risk.

    The chances of this happening are pretty low, but as mikelopez said, why risk it??? Just look at the horror and destruction of the Pro Exotics fire that was caused by an electrical short.

    Conclusion: use duct tape, or some other method of securing the probe to the heating element.

    And if anybody doubts that flexwatt can short out, see link below about urine burning through flexwatt and creating a short:
    http://burmjunkies.com/showthread.php?7107-Be-careful

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