What is Dielectric Grease – Applications & How to Use it?

Dielectric grease assists in preventing arcing between electrical parts. Some people have wondered about the difference between dielectric grease with other types of grease. Is dielectric grease the same as silicone grease? Why should I use dielectric grease? These are some of the questions that could be ringing in your mind.

Dielectric grease is also known as tune-up grease. It is a silicone-based and non-conductive type of grease to protect electrical connectors from corrosion, moisture, and dirt. One of the popular dielectric greases to use is Permatex Dielectric Grease and CRC dielectric grease.

It disrupts electric currents’ flow, thus making it ideal for sealing and lubricating rubber parts of electric connectors. We shall discuss more dielectric fluid, its application, how dielectric grease is used, types of dielectric grease, and its difference from regular grease.

What is Dielectric Grease

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What is dielectric grease?

Dielectric grease is a silicone-based compound that prevents electrical connections from corroding and seizing. Is dielectric grease conductive? The answer is obvious; it is a non-conductive grease applied to many electrical components. For example, dielectric grease on spark plugs, battery terminals, and connectors is standard.

Applying it to electrical connections creates a barrier against moisture and other contaminants that, without this obstacle, corrodes and rusts the electrical joints.

The primary purpose of dielectric grease is to prevent the flow of electricity between two connectors while still allowing them to remain in contact with one another. 

Thus you enjoy stable and reliable electrical connections that remain active and extended the life of electrical components. This grease also protects them from wear and tear caused by environmental factors such as heat, cold, moisture, and dust.

With the thick consistency, you will find dielectric grease spray tubes or jars to apply quickly. You can apply using an applicator brush or your fingers to make usage a breeze. 

How to use dielectric grease on electrical connections? To be precise, take care that you are using excessive amounts at a time that can interfere with the connection’s ability to function optimally. 

What Is Dielectric Grease Made of?

Dielectric grease on electric connections of cars, boats, and other machinery is one lubricant to maintain the electrical components. It offers insulation to the electrical connections in your vehicles or machines, and they can survive the damage or interference caused by moisture, dirt, or dust. 

This insulating and non-conductive grease is made of silicone oil mixed with thickening agents such as silica or clay. The silicone oil acts as a lubricant while the thickening agents hold it in place.

The chemical composition of this corrosion-resistant grease makes it highly resistant to water and high temperatures, which are common causes of corrosion in electrical connections. But this property ensures that the electrical system remains functional even in harsh environmental conditions. 

Dielectric grease plays a crucial role in maintaining the reliability and longevity of electronic systems by protecting them from all forms of physical damage. 

So, this is an essential component for you if you want your machinery to function properly for years on end. With this grease added to your maintenance arsenal, short circuits and malfunctioning components would be gone circumstances. 

Dielectric Grease Applications

Dielectric grease is used in many applications, including high-energy ignition systems, bulb sockets, trailer electrical connectors, headlamp connectors, ignition coil connectors, battery terminals, and spark plug boots. This silicone-based grease is used in battery terminals to prevent corrosion and fusing.

In a high-energy ignition system, dielectric grease is used to prevent voltage leakage. You can also use it with other connectors and terminals, such as heat shrink terminals, spades, rings, and butt connectors. Dielectric grease is often used on electrical connectors, especially the ones with rubber gaskets. In this case, it works as a sealer and non-conductive lubricant for the connector’s rubber parts. The dielectric grease spray enables you to meet parts that your fingers cannot reach.

Another wide application of this grease is in spark plugs and other high-voltage connections. Applying the dielectric grease on the rubber boot of the spark wire enables it to slide easily into the ceramic insulator. It seals the rubber boot and prevents it from getting stuck in the ceramic. Most spark plugs are used in high temperatures, and dielectric grease is made to withstand those high temperatures.

The other great use of dielectric grease is on gaskets of multi-pin connectors or rubber mating surfaces in the truck and automotive engines. In this application, it acts as a sealant and lubricant for the connector’s non-conductive mating surfaces. However, it is not advisable to use the grease on the connector’s actual electrical conductive contacts.

How to Use Dielectric Grease

Dielectric grease is made by adding a thickener to silicone oil. It is waterproof and fireproof. Before using dielectric grease, it is good to know if it is an insulator. Thermal grease, which is also a thermal paste, is used to drain excess heat from the electrical circuit components, such as LEDs and transistors. When using dielectric grease, inflate it on the body or outer surface of the electrical part.

Ensure that the grease does not touch the path of electrical currents or where parts are connecting. This is because the grease is an insulator, and it disrupts the flow of currents. Therefore, it is recommended to use dielectric grease on surfaces of electrical parts where the currents are not passing.

When using dielectric grease for an automotive tune-up on a diesel or gasoline engine, start by applying a little grease at the end of a spark plug wire’s rubber boot and spread it only to cover the inside lip. This prevents high-voltage electricity from flowing to the boot and leaking from the engine block. It also makes it less difficult to put the boot over the ceramic insulator. It creates a watertight seal around the spark plug, protecting the connection from dirt and water.

You can also use dielectric grease on pin connectors’ gaskets, mostly found in recreational vehicles and boats. Smear a little dab of dielectric grease on the gasket and, if possible, on both sides of the gasket. It would be best if you did this before you inserted the gasket into the connection.

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dielectric grease on battery terminals

Where should you not use dielectric grease?

Yes, dielectric grease is a versatile lubricant to be used in many different applications. But there are some exceptions where it should be avoided. To begin with, electrical connections exposed to high temperatures are a big no for this grease.

It can actually burn when exposed to high temperatures. When I say high temperature, the range is 400-500 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause damage to the connection and potentially create a fire hazard.

Moreover, certain materials, such as silicone rubber and plastics, can also be damaged if and when in contact with this chemical grease. But this time, it is not the threat of hazards, but the materials may react negatively with the ingredients in the grease. And that will result in the degradation or corrosion of the material itself.

Therefore, you should keep highly alert when using dielectric grease on moving parts or mechanical components. This is a thick substance to create tight friction and slows down movement. Using it in the wrong place will lead to equipment malfunction and even failure. 

This scenario may prompt you to search for a suitable dielectric grease substitute, and the obvious alternative that comes to mind is silicone grease. But any dielectric grease vs. silicone grease debate will pinpoint the fundamental difference: the former doesn’t cure and stays pliable, whereas the latter cures and takes solid form. 

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Can I Use Dielectric Grease On Battery Terminals?

You can use dielectric grease on battery terminals to prevent corrosion and fusing. However, applying the grease wrongly will block any currents from flowing. Dielectric grease also protects the terminals from moisture and dirt.

You should not apply grease between the terminals since it will prevent a good connection and shorten the battery’s useful life. Dielectric grease is ideal for battery terminals since it is not affected by high temperatures.

Different Between Dielectric vs. Regular Grease

A major dielectric grease substitute is regular grease. Dielectric grease is quite different from regular grease, right from its physical properties to where it is used. Most regular grease becomes weak and melts down when used in high-temperature applications. This is because they are made with low melting points. Dielectric grease, on the other hand, has high melting points and can be used on surfaces experiencing extreme temperatures.

Regular grease is also different from dielectric grease in terms of cost. Dielectric grease is more expensive compared to other types of grease. However, the advantages that come along with the grease are worth the cost. Unlike other greases, dielectric grease does not dissolve in liquids such as water, ethanol, mineral oil, and methanol. Therefore, it is ideal for both outdoor and marine applications.

The lubricating effect of dielectric grease is more compared to that of regular grease. Finally, some regular grease conducts electricity, while dielectric grease is a non-conductor. Therefore, on top of lubricating and preventing corrosion, the grease also prevents fusing and arcing in terminals and electric connections.

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Pros of Dielectric Grease

Dielectric grease has a lot of advantages, especially when used correctly. One of its major advantages is providing a seal on metal surfaces. When the grease is applied to metal parts of the electrical system, it protects them from rusting and corrosion. This grease withstands high temperatures, and thus it will maintain the seal up to a maximum of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another advantage of dielectric grease is to protect plastics and rubber in electrical systems or computer chips from fire and other catastrophes. Dielectric grease reduces the wear of mating and connecting surfaces. The connecting surfaces, therefore, develop a layered coating that minimizes resistance and prevents oxidation.

This silicon-based grease also insulates the electrical system and prevents the buildup of the insulative oxide layer that increases signal loss and resistance. Dielectric grease is most important for multi-pin connectors, thus eliminating any short between the pins. It is used for lubricating engine components such as speedometer cables, distributor caps, and rotors.

Cons 

Although dielectric grease is beneficial, it can also be detrimental when applied incorrectly. The grease is non-conductive; thus, when used incorrectly, it can prevent current flow. If you fail to clean the conductor’s contact points after applying the dielectric grease, the current will not pass through.

Another disadvantage of dielectric grease is that it can cause silicone rubber to melt after years of use. You should, however, not use dielectric conductors encased with silicone rubber. When using dielectric grease, you need to wear gloves and safety glasses. This grease can irritate the eyes and skin.

The grease produces formaldehyde when used at high temperatures and can irritate the respiratory system and eyes. Always consider under what temperatures you will use the grease before applying.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Vaseline Dielectric Grease?

Vaseline is not dielectric grease. The two are different in their structure and purposes. Vaseline is a petroleum jelly mainly used for lubrication. A major difference between the two is that Vaseline conducts electricity while dielectric grease is a non-conductor.

Unlike dielectric grease, which has high melting points, the melting points of Vaseline are low. Vaseline is mainly used to coat iron equipment and prevent them from corroding. Dielectric grease, on the other hand, is mainly used for sealing electric components and protecting them from rust and corrosion.

Is Silicone Grease The Same As Dielectric Grease?

Dielectric grease is a type of silicon grease. Silicon grease is made by mixing silicone oil with a thickener. The moisture becomes a white viscous paste, which is water and fireproof. The exact properties of silicone grease depend on the proportions and types of components that have been used.

Dielectric grease is silicone-based grease that repels moisture and prevents electrical connections from corroding. Grease is a non-conductor of electricity. You are therefore advised not to apply it on mating surfaces of electrical connections.

Can Dielectric Grease Be Used On the Circuit Breaker?

You can use dielectric grease on circuit breakers but with caution since not all parts should be greased. This should only be done in corrosive atmospheres. At times, the circuit breaker’s manual recommends that you lubricate some specific current-carrying parts on the breaker.

Some of these parts are bus stands, primary-circuit finger clusters, and main contacts. It would help if you were extra careful when deciding on what current-carrying components should be greased and which should not. It is advisable to go through the circuit breaker manual to make sure you are lubricating the right components.

Can I Use Dielectric Grease On O-Rings?

Dielectric grease is the best grease to use on O-rings. Lubricating O-rings is crucial in every assembling process. It prevents the O-rings from scuffing damage and abrasion. Dielectric grease keeps the O-rings safe since it acts as a lubricant and it is also waterproof.

Does dielectric grease improve connection?

Blowing out the confusion whether dielectric grease conductive or not will half answer this question. No, it is not a conductive lubricant but is used in electrical connections because it keeps out moisture and dirt, which can cause problems with the connection over time.

The grease consists of silicone oils, oils suspended in silica gel, or other hydrocarbon compounds. It works as an insulating barrier between two metals, preventing corrosion and oxidation while allowing an electrical current to pass through. 

Can I use WD 40 instead of dielectric grease?

Dielectric grease is a special lubricant designed for electrical connections and wiring use. It provides an insulation bar that prevents corrosion and rust from forming on metal parts. 

WD 40 is a multi-purpose lubricant used for numerous household tasks, from loosening rusty nuts to cleaning tools. It does not have the same properties as dielectric grease to provide any insulation against moisture or corrosion like dielectric grease. This cannot be a dielectric grease substitute, and using it may actually increase the risk of damage to your equipment. 

When should you not use dielectric grease?

While this low-viscosity grease has a wide range of uses, there are some instances when it should not be used. Dielectric grease has a high melting point but can still melt at temperatures higher than its melting point. So, when applied to high temperature (more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit) metal surfaces and components, this could cause short-circuit or corrode faster than normal.

So, dielectric grease should not be applied too heavily as this can impede heat transfer away from electrical components, leading to overheating issues. 

Should you put dielectric grease on plug wires?

Dielectric grease is a silicone-based material that provides moisture resistance and protection from corrosion. And it also helps reduce the chance of electrical arcing by creating a seal between two metal surfaces. So, dielectric grease on battery terminals and spark plug will save both from arcing. Moreover, if you want the rubber boot of the plug, avoid bonding to its ceramic part; put dielectric grease on spark plugs. 

Does dielectric grease harm rubber?

People prefer dielectric grease for electrical connectors to regular greases but there are concerns about its effects on rubber components. And it is widespread that people worry that this product could hurt rubber components such as O-rings, grommets, or other protective seals. 

But when applied correctly and not too heavily, dielectric grease does not harm rubber in most applications. However, it can cause problems if misapplied or with the wrong product type. 

What happens if you don’t use dielectric grease?

Failing to use it will leave your electrical system vulnerable to – damage caused by contact corrosion, dust and moisture infiltration, and wear of key components. 

This is why dielectric grease spray should be used in all electrical applications, from automotive spark plugs to marine battery terminals. Not only does it prevent corrosion and facilitate the flow of electricity, but it also prevents dirt and moisture from getting into any gaps or exposed parts. 

Furthermore, its lubricating properties reduce wear on contact points inside connectors and increase the lifespan of components. 

Conclusion

I am confident that you can now explain what dielectric grease is, its uses, applications, pros, and cons. Dielectric grease is a great sealer and lubricant. It prevents arcing, adds insulation, and ensures longevity on electrical connectors. Always remember that this grease should only be used on surfaces where the current is not passing less it will not allow current to flow between two electrical connections. Dielectric grease is ideal for automobile applications, electrical circuits, and motor industries. It has a high melting point, and thus it is the perfect grease to use in high-temperature applications.

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Tito

Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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