Welding cables come in a variety of gauges, lengths, and brands. Welding cables are, very simply, extremely thick electrical wires. It is made up of several strands of copper wire with a heavy duty covering. You can purchase the wire in varying lengths and thickness. The wire varies greatly in cost. There are several factors that determine the cost.
The size of the cable is called the “gauge”. The individual copper stands inside the cable are manufactured in 30 or 34 AWG (American Wire Gauge). The larger the gauge number means the thinner the wire. Smaller gauge is used for greater flexibility. The overall cable also varies in gauge. The smaller gauge cable has less individual strands. For example, the 6 gauge (small welding cable) has about 260 strands. The larger 0 cable has about 1000 strands. The cable size can be even larger, going all the way to over 5000 strands.
Ampacity is the amount of current that a welding cable can handle before it begins to melt. Ampacity varies based on the gauge of the wire. The more strands, the higher the ampacity. Another measurement that goes right along with the cable ampacities is voltage. Wire that can carry higher ampacity can handle higher voltage, as well. Typical cable ampacities vary from 75 amps to almost 700 amps. Higher amp ratings are more expensive. The rating you will need will depend on the metal you are welding. Softer metals such as aluminum require less amperage, while harder metals such as steel require much higher amperage.
As you may have deducted, your cable connector requirements will vary based on the size of cable you are using, and the amperage you are welding with. Cable connectors vary in size so that you aren’t putting a very large, heavy connector rated for 600 amps on a 6 gauge wire, which is only rated at 75 amps. You are going to want to purchase the correct connectors for the size of welding cable you are using. You will typically find a crimp on “o” connector on one end of the cable, while you will use clamps on the other end of the cable. The “o” connector is used to fasten the welding cable to the power supply. There are two types of clamps that you will use on a welding cable. One will be a black clamp, used for grounding. The other will be a red clamp, which will hold the welding rod.
Welding cable can be purchased in a wide variety of lengths. The shortest length is typically 5’, while the longest is usually 1000’. Lengths less than 25’ are usually sold as a “bundle”, while 25’ and longer pieces are sold on cable reels. By putting the cable on reels it is easier to unwind and wind back up when the reel is mounted on a pole. Reels can be very heavy, and you will have to plan carefully for pickup or delivery. For example, a 1000’ reel of 0 gauge welding cable (a very common size) weighs about 405 lbs.
Common Brand Names in Welding Cable
The biggest name in the US in welding supplies, including cable, has got to be Hobart. It would be hard to find anyone in the welding industry who does not know this name. There are a few more companies, though, that do sell welding cable, such as US Forge, Coleman, Royal Excelene and US Welding.
Welding Cable on Amazon.com
It is no surprise that the top result for “welding cable” on Amazon.com is Hobart cable. It is a 50’ reel of 4 gauge cable. The amperage rating on 4 gauge cable is 100 amps, which is a typical for manual welders. While this cable will work at 100 amps, you do not want to run the maximum current through any cable for a long period of time. The cable will get quite hot rather quickly. This cable would be good for low-current application, such as welding aluminum or other soft metals. This reel weighs just less than 10 lbs., and costs only $82.54.
The next cable you will find on Amazon.com is also made by Hobart. It is 25’ of 2 gauge cable. The 2 gauge cable is rated at a much higher 140 amps. This cable would be a great size to use for your typical welding at 100 amps without having to worry about it overheating or melting as a result of extended use. Since this cable is 25’, it does not come on a reel. It weighs a surprising 7.4 lbs. despite being half the length of the previous cable because of how much thicker it is. This cable runs $62.73.
The first-ever resulting you find on Amazon.com are all Hobart products. If you scroll through Amazon. com a little further you will find a 250 foot reel of 4/0 Royal Excelene welding cable. This welding cable is a very heavy gauge. It is made by one of the few companies that make cable in the United States. It has 2052 strands. There reel weighs 381 pounds. Like most welding cables the shielding has a high resistance to flame, oil, grease, solvents, and abrasion.
While there are no customer reviews on Amazon for welding cables, customer reviews from other areas of the Internet rate Hobart as one of the greatest products in welding supplies. Their products are long-lasting, high quality, and perform exactly as advertised. Customers who have purchased Royal Excelene products have said that their products are very high quality, and are happy to purchase US-based company.
Welding cables come in many different lengths, gauges and amp ratings. The connectors for these cables are equally as varied, and need to match the cable they are being used for. The different sizes determine what these cables can be used for. You need to make sure that you do your research before you purchase welding cable or the connectors to make sure that you are using the proper gauge for your application.