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Heatgun vs. Hair Dryer - How To Shrink Wrap

Heatgun vs. Hair Dryer - How To Shrink Wrap
22 February 2023 1150 view(s)

It is often asked whether a hair dryer can perform the same job as a heat gun when it comes to shrink wrapping. In this guide, we will explain the purposes of a heat gun, whether a hair dryer can be used as a substitute for a heat gun and which is best for shrink wrapping.

What is the purpose of a heat gun?

A heat gun is a handheld device used to emit a stream of hot air, with temperatures generally varying between 100°C and 700°C. Heat guns are usually in the shape of a handgun but there are also some inline models available. Different models of heat guns that operate at different temperatures and different airflow are used for a number of different applications, including to strip paint, shrink wrap packaging, bend and weld plastic, adhesives and to heat shrink wrap. In some instances, they are also used with electronic work to desolder and rework circuit board components.

How hot is a heat gun?

Most heat guns have a minimum temperature of around 100°C and the top temperature generally reaches 500°C. However, there are some professional heat guns that will reach up to 700°C. For home tasks, such as stripping paint, a heat gun only needs to be around 200-400°C. The temperature required for shrink wrapping varies dependant on the shrink wrap; however, generally around 100-200°C is needed for this.

What is the difference between a heat gun and a hair dryer?

Heat guns and hair dryers have very similar functions but are used for completely different applications. Hair dryers, obviously, are used to dry your hair. Because of this, the maximum temperature emitted is much lower than that of a heat gun. A standard hair dryer will have a maximum temperature of around 140°C. Heat guns are used for applications such as shrink wrapping and removing paint so the temperatures are much higher than that of a hair dryer, varying from 100°C and 700°C.

Two men working on a car with heat guns

Can you use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun?

As hair dryers and heat guns have very similar functions, you can use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun for certain applications. If you are removing labels/stickers, removing candle wax, or similar tasks then a hair dryer can be used instead of a heat gun. However, if you use it regularly for these sorts of tasks it will quickly overheat and become damaged because of course, this is not the purpose of its design.

Heat guns are designed to perform these hot air application tasks to a high standard and so provide more concentrated airflow than hair dryers do. Because of this, heat guns are much more efficient because the air isn’t being scattered around like it is with a hair dryer which has a wide stream of air rather than a narrow one like a heat gun.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrapping is the method of covering an object with a plastic film. The films can either be clear or printed and form a cover around the object. The film is sealed using heat that is applied directly to on to it. It is most famously seen among car-wrappers that apply shrink wrap film to cars to change their colour and appearance. The best tool for carrying out this type of work is a heat gun and not a hair dryer.

Can you heat shrink with a hair dryer?

If you put your hair dryer on its hottest setting you probably could produce some desired heat shrink application results. However, using a hair dryer to apply heat shrink will take a very long time and the results will not be as good as if you used a heat gun. The maximum temperature of a hair dryer is 140°C, whereas a heat gun’s maximum temperature is around 700°C. This difference in heat is the difference between a professional-looking shrink wrap and a huge saving in time. Generally, the full activation temperature of heat shrink is above 140°C.

Man working on car with heat gun

What is the best heat gun to buy?

The best and most appropriate heat gun we offer for heat shrink application is the Steinel HG 2120 E Heat Gun. This heat gun and its accessories has become so popular among car-wrappers that Steinel have developed their very own Car Wrapper Set. This set includes the HG 2120 E Heat Gun as well as the HL Scan which is a high-quality temperature scanner.

The Steinel HG 2120 E Heat Gun is electronically controlled with a 7.5m cable, ideally suited for car wrapping. Its infinitely adjustable temperature ranges from 80°C to 630°C and is adjustable by thumbwheel in 9 stages. The ergonomic handle features a soft inlay for safe working with just one hand.

If you are looking for an inline heat gun as opposed to the standard handgun shape, the Steinel HG 2620 E is the best option. This 2300 Watt heat gun features a digital temperature adjustment by joystick from 50°C to 700°C and has a brushless motor that will work for 10,000+ hours.

You can shop our full range of heat guns including those from Steinel and Leister.

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