When we have customers who want to know how long a VHS tape can record, there really is no simple answer. Several variables come into play, pun intended, when it comes to VHS tapes.

Here is a breakdown of the different time lengths a VHS tape will record.

Standard Recording Time for VHS Tapes

The standard for recording on a VHS tape is two hours. Additionally, a VHS tape can be recorded over up to 100 times. After this point, there is degradation of the tape to the point where you can no longer record or watch it.

It is possible to optimize your video camera settings to record four to eight hours on a standard tape. However, this is requires a special setting on the camcorder and reduces the quality.

Basic Standard VHS Tape Recording Times

A standard VHS cassette tape measures 1,410 feet in length and even stretched at its thinnest will still provide standard play (SP) quality. Measuring the recording time of a VHS involves the playing time rather than the physical length of the tape itself.

Also, there are three main types of VHS tapes that were used previously and may be in circulation.

These include these three tape formats:

  • NTSC – United States and Japan
  • PAL – Most European Countries
  • SECAM – France

According to Sony, “NTSC picture is made up of 525 interlaced lines and is displayed at a rate of 29.97 frames per second.” The total playing time for this length of tape is four hours. That is for a popular T-240/DF480 for National Television System Committee (NTSC) format.

However, you may have an E-300 for a Phase Alternate Line (PAL) format tape. The PAL picture format is more commonly used in European countries. It has 625 interlaced lines and a display rate of only 25 frames per second. A PAL video recording will not play on a NTSC or SECAM player.

SECAM VHS tape used in France, China, the USSR, Syria, and several African countries has a 4.69 feet/minute system. A SECAM recording will not play on a PAL or NTSC player.

There is another way to find out how long a VHS tape records. If your tape has the label still intact, you can easily determine the total playtime for these tapes based on the name. For example, if you have an NTSC T-120 tape or a SECAM VHS E120, these are both two-hour tapes if they are full.

How Long VHS Tape Records

If you are using VHS tapes to create recordings, there are a few more details to consider.

Are you recording on a VHS recorder or a VCR? When recording on a tape, you have to consider the playback. On a VCR there are multiple settings for VHS tape playback.

These include:

  • SP for standard play mode
  • LP for long play mode
  • EP or SLP for extended play mode

A single VHS will record at different speeds based on what you set for the playback setting. The most common VHS tape is the T-120, which has a standard recording time of 120 minutes.

However, if you choose to record on the tape using the LP setting on the VCR, this will extend the tape-recording time to four hours. An EP tape has a six-hour playback.

Choosing a different tape length also determines how long a VHS tape can record. If you have a T-160 tape, this is a 160-minute recording length.

Recording on LP speed will extend the recording time to 6 hours and EP or SLP will be 8 hours.

Popping a VHS cassette into your VCR and recording a video can be a challenge as tape gets older.

This is especially the case if you are using thinner tape or recording many times over on a tape in a security camera recording.

Optimize Your Video Tape Recordings

The best way to determine the length of a video tape is to play it on a VCR that displays the time in hours, minutes and seconds.

We do this with every tape at ARS Video and contact you with the price including quantity discount before we start digitizing them. We also remove TV programs.

Let us help you maintain the premium quality of your recordings.

Find out more about our VHS conversion services today at ARS Video Inc.

Contact us via email and let us know how we can help you solve your VHS tape recording dilemmas!