DIY Solder Heat Tape Connections

This DIY Guide leads you through making the solder connections on a piece of Heat Tape. We recommend the 40 watt soldering iron available from Radio Shack either in your local store or online (Catalog #: 64-2071) and the 60/40 Rosin Core Solder (flux built in) also available at Radio Shack (Catalog #: 64-005) to do this. You can use an extension cord with the female end cut off for your power cord. You will want a cord with 18 guage wire and one that IS NOT grounded (2 prong) unless you are an advanced user and are planning on using your heat tape on a metal surface, shelf or rack. If this is the case you will need to ground the shelf/surface with either the ground (green) wire in a grounded cord or through some other means. If you do not understand this then you do not need to do this yourself- seek some help!

Soldering takes a little bit of practice so if you have a small scrap piece of heat tape to try this on first it might be worthwhile to do so. If you are not confident you can accomplish this then we suggest you do not try it. A good connection is critical for safety!

Tinning Wire
First- You will need to strip away about 1/4" of the wire insulation. Hold the tip of the soldering iron on the wire end for about 3 seconds, then touch the wire with the solder. The solder should melt easily into the wire.
Tinned Wire
The tinned wire end should look like this. You do not want a lot of excess solder. More is not better!
Tinned Wire Pair
Repeat this on both of the wire ends to be connected to the heat tape
This Side Up
Now you need to cut a square end on your element between the wide black lines. You want the BLACK side facing up, not the copper colored side.
Cut Away Laminate
You need to carefully cut away a small rectangle of laminate on the edge of the element over the copper buss bar. Use light pressure and a new blade so you do not actually cut the copper buss bar.
Trimming Laminate
Once you cut through the laminate you should be able to lift up the small rectangle exposing the copper beneath it.
Trim Both Sides
Once you have done this over both copper buss bars you can move to the next step!
Tin Heat Tape
Now you can tin the heat tape. Hold the tip of the soldering iron on the exposed copper for just a second or two then touch it lightly with the solder. A small puddle of solder should form on the copper, rmove the iron before you melt the heat tape! Again, more is not better.
Tinned Heat Tape
What you should see.
Tin Both Sides
Repeat this on both sides of the heat tape.
Solder Wire to Heat Tape
Next- Hold the tinned end of one of the wires on one side of the tinned heat tape. Now gently press down on the wire end, the wire and solder puddle on the heat tape will heat up and as soon as you see all the solder flow together remove the iron. Hold the wire still for a few seconds until the solder cools. You can test your connection by giving the wire a gentle but sharp tug. A good solder joint will not break.
Solder Joint
A good solder joint will look like this. It should be shiny and look like it is all melted together. A very dull colored or lumpy looking solder joint needs to be re-heated to make sure you have a good connection. This is the critical part. If you completed all the steps above properly you should have no problem getting a good connection here.
Repeat Solder on Both Sides
Repeat on the other side so you have this!
Insulate Connections
Now apply your insualtion tape to both sides on the top and bottom of the connection and you should have this.
Fold electrical tape over the copper buss-bar on the non-connected end and you are done!