For hundreds of years, rubber hoses have been used in all sorts of applications, from automotive connections to heavy industry. More recently, silicone has become a viable material, and even a possible replacement. So when is it worth using silicone hosing, and is silicone hosing strictly better than rubber?
Whether through movement, heat cycles, age, or repeated movements, rubber hoses will need replacing regularly. Comparatively, silicone is heat resistant, weather resistant, and extremely flexible. In an automotive setting, for instance, rubber hoses will need replacement regularly, but a silicone hose can easily last for the lifetime of a car in most circumstances.
Rubber is frequently used in situations where liquid tight seals are necessary due to it’s flexibility and compressibility. Silicone does not share this advantage, so in cases where a hose joins to metal, silicone hoses can result in leaks.
Silicone and rubber also require different clamps to seal and join connections, meaning you cannot simply switch from one to another.
There are some applications that one or the other material are simply inappropraite for. For instance, in a food service setting, hoses from reputable silicone hose manufacturers such as https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture are nonreactive and do not decay, and therefore will not contaminate food or beverages moved through them.
Silicon, however, will degrade quickly in the presence of oil or gas-related fluids, leading to leaks or even hose failures. Rubber, however, is resistant to these, so despite the shorter expected lifespan and other concerns, it is the correct choice for these applications.
Silicone hoses may last far longer in most settings, but they carry a heavy price tag. Rubber hoses are cheap and cheerful, so for many applications – especially those with a short expected lifespan or where unit cost is a major concern – rubber hoses may be a better choice.
At the end of the day, there is no clear winner between silicone and rubber hoses. For some applications such as food service the only choice is silicone, but in cases where cost is a concern or the fluid carried will be petroleum based, silicone is inappropriate.
Consider your need, your budget, and the expected lifespan of the application to help with your decision. When it comes to silicone versus rubber hoses, there is no single correct answer.