A welding cable is a single type conductor type of cable used in an electric arc-welding machine. It is used to power an electrode that conducts a charge to arc welder, welding box, bus or transformer. The charge carried by the electrode produces an arc between the electrode and the other metal. It is easily available, portable, durable and flexible and is commonly used in welding applications and power applications, not exceeding 600 voltages. The article describes everything you need to know about a basic welding cable so that you are able to make your decisions in an informed manner.
A welding cable is made of stranded annealed bundles of copper with an EPDM or Neoprene rubber insulation. The sizes range from 6 AWG to 500 MCM, and come in black and red. The insulation protects against harsh weather, moisture, abrasion and water. It is equally resistant to ozone damage and remains flexible even at extreme temperatures. However, the Neoprene rubber insulation maintains higher elasticity than EPDM. PVC insulators are resistant against abrasion, chemicals and tears. A welding cable can resist a temperature of 90 degree Celsius.
The strand count on a welding cable makes all the difference to the flexibility of the cable. The primary stranding is Cable K, which is 30 AWG strands and comes in red and black colors. The other kind of stranding is Class M stranding is 34 AWG, which comes in a bright fluorescent jacket. It is slightly more expensive than the former welding cable due to the increased amount of copper and tougher jacket.
- How does a welding cable work?
Make sure that your welding cable can handle the currents you will be running through it. Consider the factors before selecting a welding machine such as cable length, gauge and insulation temperature rating. For applications requiring higher cable strength such as cranes and hoisting, higher strength welding cables are used. The cables are thicker and have a higher strand count.
The capacity of a welding cable is measured in amperage, which is a measure of the number of charged particles moving past a fixed point in one second. Welding cable ampacity, on the other hand, refers to the maximum amount of electrical current that a cable can safely conduct before deterioration.
- Kinds of welding cables
- Residential welders – Residential welders are used in garages and small shops. They are smaller in size as they require less power. They are required in small gauge sizes such 6 AWG, 4 AWG and 2 AWG which are available on many online websites.
- Commercial welders – Commercial welders are used in industrial applications which require protection against harsh environment and more flexibility. Also known as Super Vu-Tron, it comes in an orange jacket with UL, CSA and MSHA approvals for safety reasons. It is made of 34 AWG copper strands for extra flexibility with more durable insulation.
The cost of a welding cable can depend on its length, electrical properties and flexibility. No attempts should be made to compromise on the quality of the welder. This can lead to lower life expectancy, variation in the quality of copper or the loss of tension which would affect the operations of the cable.
A welding cable can be easily bought at an electricity store, and is useful for many purposes. It is a good idea to consult welding cable manufactures who would help you select the best welding equipment for yourself.