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Welding Cable vs. Battery Cable

Welding and battery cables share many similarities. Compared to other cables, both are flexible, single core, carry the same current or amperage, and have high temperature ratings, up to 105ºC or higher. Despite this, they have several significant differences related to their applications.

What is Welding Cable?

Welding cables are extremely flexible, with a high number of very fine strands made of copper wire. They're insulated with synthetic rubber materials, including ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM) and neoprene. The outer covering is relatively soft, abrasion-resistant, and able to handle flexing and abuse. Welding cables retain their flexibility at very low temperatures and withstand high temperatures. You can use welding cables on circuits up to 600 volts.

What is Battery Cable?

Battery cables are relatively rigid, with heavier gauge copper wire strands than welding cables. Insulation materials are PVC and cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE). Battery cables may be difficult to bend, but once formed, they retain their shape. Their insulation withstands arduous under-hood temperatures and is resistant to gas, oils, and lubricants. The voltage rating of battery cables is 60 volts.

Can you use Welding Cable as Battery Cable?

Yes, you can. Welding cables make good battery cables when you need to bend the cable a lot to run it around underbody obstructions. You must support the cable fully so it can't vibrate or touch moving parts. Also, make sure to use corrugated cable protectors to minimize the risk of abrasion. Welding cables make good jumper cables.

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Are Battery Cables Suitable for Welding?

No, you should not use battery cables for welding. Many welders have an open circuit voltage that exceeds 60 volts, so it's not safe to use battery cables. Also, a battery cable may kink and snag on obstacles because it's not sufficiently flexible.

Choosing the Right Size Welding or Battery Cable

It is important to select a cable with the correct amperage rating. Also, you need to consider voltage drop over the length of the cable. For vehicle systems, try to keep the volt drop below 0.3 volts. Use the voltage drop calculator to determine a suitable cable for your application in terms of American wire gauge (AWG) size, current drawn, and voltage drop.

It's considered good practice to choose a cable with a slightly greater current rating than required as this reduces the voltage drop, particularly on long welding cables and in 12- and 24-volt automotive systems.

Welding and Battery Cable Specifications

Property Welding Cable Battery Cable
Flexibility Very Less so
Wire Strands Many, very thing copper wire stranding Fewer, slightly thicker copper wire stranding
Temperature Rating -50°C to 105°C (some 90°C) STG: -40°C to 105°C STX, SGX: -40°C to 125°C
Voltage Rating Up to 600 volts 60 volts
Insulation Materials EPDM, Rubber, Neoprene STG: PVC STX and SGX: XLPE
Abrasion Resistance Good Good
Oil and Gas Resistance Good Good
Flame Resistant yes No

Battery Cable Safety

Safety measures should always be taken when working with a battery cable to prevent future damage. All of our battery cable options meet SAE J-1127, Ford, and Chrysler specifications for use in automotive applications. They also meet UL-558 and UL-553 flame-resistant standards.

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Welding Vs. Battery Cable

Although superficially similar, these cables differ in many respects. These include voltage rating, type of insulation, flexibility, and abrasion resistance. Except in a few instances, it is best to use the correct cable for each application.