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What are the benefits of reflective heat tape?

What are the benefits of reflective heat tape?

Posted by Matthew Marks on 6th Jul 2020

What is reflective heat tape?

You have probably seen rolls of gold, and silver heat reflective tape on many performance car builds or websites and may have wondered what it was.

Reflective sheeting was initially designed to keep heat away from vital components of the car that are not meant to be exposed to prolonged excessive temperatures. Heat management is critical and should not be overlooked.

You may have seen reflective tape and surfaces before in race cars on cold air intakes, intercooler piping and even space exploration! It all works on the same principle of maintaining safe operating temperatures.

How does it work?

The reflective sheeting and tapes are simple yet super effective. These reflective surfaces aim to reflect as much radiant heat as possible.

The side that you can see (Gold or Silver) is built up from woven layers of glass fibre and then covered with a highly laminated aluminium foil. The laminated foil can cope with radiant temperatures of up to 300ºC whilst still maintaining the ability to reflect up to 80% of that heat.

The layers of woven glass fibre that the foil sits on act as an extra thermal barrier from extreme temperatures and protects the self-adhesive backing ensuring the reflective material will not begin to peel away from anything it is applied to.

Where should I apply it?

Heat reflective tapes are helpful in many places, but the most common areas in automotive applications are intake pipes, intercoolers, firewalls etc.

Due to all of these places needing protection from heat, the gold and silver reflective are a perfect choice and are much more cost-effective than already manufactured heat shielding.

The best way to utilise these products is to place them in all areas that can suffer from heat soak. Once combined with other items such as turbo blankets, exhaust wrap, and silicone fire sleeves, you should eliminate any problems coming from incredibly high heat sources.

What are the benefits of heat reflective tapes?

Air intake temperatures play a vital role in how an engine is running. Cold air contains more oxygen molecules per unit volume of air entering the combustion chamber than hot air.

As combustion engines need oxygen to work, the more you can get into the engine, the better the combustion will be, and you will see a noticeable difference in power. Wrapping intake pipework is an easy and effective way to stop intake temperatures creeping up on high powered cars or extended periods of heavy use.

There are also many components in an engine compartment that are delicate when exposed to heat. Wiring and lines that run on the same side of the exhaust manifold will absorb a lot of the heat from the exhaust and go through many heat cycles as the car is used.

With exposure to heat over time, these can become brittle and damaged, which can cause unwanted problems that can be hard to diagnose.

Reflective materials can also help manage how much heat comes into the cabin of the car via the bulkhead, which on a hot day on the track can be fatiguing for the driver and components such as ECUs and fuse boxes.

Heat management is crucial to keeping a motor vehicle operating well and should not be overlooked. It could be the difference between winning a race or ending up in the pits scratching your head.