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Discovering Welding Cables: The Guide

What's so great about welding cables?

Welding cables with a copper conductor are specifically designed for use in welding machines, but it turns out that they have more to offer, thanks to their flexibility and durability. Welding cables carry high amount of current which help to create heat that causes the melting. Understandably, these cables can withstand high temperatures and demanding conditions.

Main Applications Of Welder's Leads

Welding machines are a main application of welding cables. A welder, or a welding machine, is an apparatus used by welders to melt metal details. Depending on the scale, temperature rating, and expected amperage, there are industrial, automotive, and construction welding machines and structures.

  • Industrial welding machines are the most rigorous ones found on large-scale industrial plants. The equipment found here is very high-powered, and common 600V welding cables are not used. Cables are expected to be sturdy and very resistant to industrial impact.
  • Automotive welding concerns different types of vehicles. The equipment here is smaller, and cables should be flexible, as they are expected to maneuver in tight spaces.
  • Construction welding machines are installed on building sites. Welding equipment here varies, and cables are expected to fit many different characteristics.

Choosing the Right Welding Cable: Specs

A welding cable, also known as welder's lead, consists of a stranded flexible copper conductor wrapped in durable insulation. Common materials for the insulation of a welding cable are EPDM, flexible PVC, or CPE. All of these insulations are flexible and durable, with slight differences. For instance, CPE insulation has a slightly higher flex temperature than the other two, while EPDM is better at flexing applications at lower temperatures. 

Welding cables typically come in sizes between 4 and 4/0. The typical ampacity of welding cables is between 25 Amps (size 4) and 125 Amps (size 4/0). The size you need for your electrical project depends on the size of the welding circuit, the output, and the power source's duty cycle.

Class M vs. Class K Welding Cable: Things To Know

When selecting, you will encounter type M welding cable and type K welding cables most often. Both cables are rated for applications not exceeding 600 volts. Type K is your typical welder's cable stocked by every vendor. It has an EPDM thermoset jacket and a 30 AWG stranded copper conductor.

Class M Welding Cable has a similar conductor, but the gauge is 34 AWG. Because of the larger number of conductor strands, Type M cable is more flexible than its Type K counterpart. The jacket of this cable is also EPDM (sometimes Neoprene), but it is thicker, making Class M cable more durable. Class M is ranked for more applications, as it is suitable for trays and cranes due to its flexibility characteristics.

 

What Does The Market Have To Offer?

There are a large variety of welding wires on the market. While all of them are suitable for the purposes listed above, it helps to know the subtle differences between them to pick the best cable for your electrical project.

Bare Copper Welding Cable Class K 90C 600V is a starter welding cable cheaper than its Class M counterpart. Despite this, it has all the benefits that welding cables have to offer. Class K cables' main application is secondary voltage resistance welding leads, but these cables are versatile. These black cables have an annealed stranded bare copper conductor and an EPDM insulation. 

Orange Welding Cable Class M UL/CSA 600V is a superior and more expensive cable that outclasses Class K. Being more flexible, these cables are used in flex applications. Its CPE insulation has a higher flex temperature than EPDM. The cable has a jacket of distinctive orange color.

Super Vu-Tron Welding 600v Orange Cable is actually Class M with an orange jacket, but it also has a patented Super Vu-Tron jacket, which is marketed as a super-tough feature that withstands most demanding conditions.

Welding Lead W/ Lenco/Tweco Cable is equipped with connectors to connect and disconnect welding leads. This helps to make leads longer or shorter depending on your goal. Other than this, this cable is similar to Class K welder cable, as it has the same conductor and insulation, and color.

Welding Bare Copper UL 3284 / CL 1254 Hook-Up 600V 125C EPDM Battery Cable is a cable with a bunch-stranded copper conductor and EPDM insulation that is marketed as a battery cable for cars, UPS systems, and industrial battery chargers in addition to its primary use in welding machines. The cable is suitable for battery use per UL 558 & 583. It can also be used as a hook-up wire in internal connections. 

Ultra Flex Welding Cable with Rugged Jacket 600V is used when your electrical project calls for even more flexibility. This cable is more flexible than others, thanks to a higher number of strands. It is used in welding robots, on pipelines, or when space where they operate is very tight. Its EPDM insulation is rugged for more flexibility. It is an orange cable with a black stripe.

Beyond The Welding Machine:  Can Welding Cables Be Used Outside Of Welding Machines?

Because of their outstanding abilities, welding cables are used in industrial settings, which is confirmed by them meeting international industrial standards. Specifically, they are handy if there is a risk of abrasion damage or being affected by oil or moisture. The industries that can benefit from welding cables include car manufacturing and shipbuilding, among others.

Besides industrial applications, welding cables may be a great alternative to stage lighting, entertainment, and communication cables. Moreover, they are used in the building industry to bring power to construction settings or on hoists and cranes. Welder's cables can be a great alternative to battery cables in cars. Large welding cables can be put in a tray or conduit. In general, welding cables can be used to supply power to AC circuits that do not exceed 600 volts.

While welding cables fit many applications, they do not always meet the standards for these applications. While many DIY electricians choose to use the welder's cables regardless of rating, following appropriate standards is a recommended practice for a good reason.

When using a welder's cable for non-welding purposes, make sure that it follows appropriate standards, and is resistant to the type of influence they will be exposed to. To put it simply, a cable used outdoors should be ranked for the outdoors, and a cable used in trays should be ranked for trays.

It should be noted that OSHA requirements require welder's lead to be replaced if damaged during the application, and never repaired. Customers should take this requirement at a face value for safety reasons, regardless of where exactly they use the cable.

If you need more information about using welding cables for non-welding purposes, call us at 1-516-482-6313 or visit our 24/7 chat.

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Discovering Welding Cables: The Guide