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Welding Cable vs. Battery Cable | Product Knockout

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Product Knockout: Welding Cable vs. Battery Cable Our Product Knock-Out series compares two similar products in order to help you find the right choice. Welding cable and battery cable are similar in their applications but differ in terms of their construction allowing for one type of cable to be more useful than the other in certain unique situations. This article breaks down the composition of both of these cables, allowing for a more precise understanding of what their differences are. With this knowledge, we are confident that you will be able to find whatever product fits best for your specific purpose. 


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What are Welding Cables Made Of?

Welding cable is a portable cord with a single conductor that is finely stranded for flexibility. It is offered in sizes ranging from 6 AWG to 500 MCM. Oftentimes referred to as grounding cable, it features a single bare annealed copper conductor that is finely stranded which provides the flexibility that welding cable is known for.
Welding cable is typically used because of its flexibility and versatility which result from its construction of finer strands of copper and EPDM or neoprene rubber jacket. In fact, it is generally more flexible than electrical wires or power cables. Depending on the manufacturer, welding cable has a temperature rating of -50℃ - 105℃ and when put to the test, many of these cables will withstand exposure to grease, oil, and water as well as cuts, tears, and abrasion.
These cables are often ideal for installations with exposure to colder weather because of its thinner stranding construction which allows for increased flexibility and usability. While these cables are typically offered in red and black jackets, but can also be found in additional colors including yellow, blue and green, the more durable construction of welding cable is identifiable by its orange jacket.

Applications of Welding Cable

Often used in demanding applications, welding cable is a secondary voltage-resistance cable for welding tools or as a power cable that is attached to generators and industrial machinery. For example, electric arc-welding tools typically rely on two separate cables for operation; one that acts as the primary power source for the device while the other supplies a secondary power source. While welding cable may not power the generator, it is required for the electrode.
Welding cable is approved for use in power supply applications in which the voltage does not exceed 600 volts. Having a neoprene or EPDM jacket makes this type of cable the appropriate choice for tight battery applications. It makes a superior alternative to battery cable and can also be used in marine applications, but the insulation needs to be oil and water resistant as to not become saturated.

Welding Cable Safety

Safety measures should be taken when using welding cable to prevent future damage. Cables should regularly be checked for imperfections and cleaned of any grease and oil. Replace any damaged welding cable if it is within three feet of the electrode. These cables meet UL-1581 flame resistant standards which give it an edge over battery cable when it comes to protection from the elements.

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What are Battery Cables Made Of?

Battery Cable is a single conductor bare copper cable in a PVC or XLPE insulation. Having thicker copper strands not as tightly compacted in the PVC sleeving makes it less flexible than most other types of cable. It is offered in sizes ranging from 6 AWG to 4/0 AWG. Battery Cables are the best option when simple connection and protection are needed. In cold weather, battery cable becomes very stiff and difficult to work with due to the already limited flexibility. Battery cables are available in standard battery circuit cable red and black.

Applications of Battery Cables

Battery cable is supplied to a number of industries and can be used in a variety of applications. These cables are limited to applications or projects that need no more than 60 volts of power. Battery cables are the ideal solution for situations in which a simple connection between a battery and a starter is needed. They are also the most effective option for applications with no sharp curves or those that have a direct shot to the power source.
Allied Wire and Cable carries three types of battery cable including SGT, STX, and SGX.

SGT Cable

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  Used in starter or ground circuits
  Can withstand temperatures up to 105℃
STX Cable or SGX Cable

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  Used in automotive starters or battery grounds when resistance to abrasion, heat, and aging are needed
  XLPE insulated

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  Can withstand temperatures up to 125℃

Battery Cable Safety

Safety measures should always be taken when working with battery cable to prevent future damage. All 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.


When comparing welding cable and battery cable, it is easy to see that although battery cable typically has fewer strands of copper per conductor than the same gauge size of welding cable, welding cable is definitely a better choice for applications in which flexibility and usability are important. It is also known that the amount of copper per foot of welding cable is greater than that of battery cable which allows it to handle higher voltage applications. Although battery cable is more difficult to work with than welding cable in colder climates, they both perform similarly when in that environment.


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