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Different Types Of Welding Cables And Their Applications



Different Types Of Welding Cables And Their Applications

Welding may seem like a straightforward job, but it’s only when you actually get down to the process of putting together a welding supplies kit that you realize a crucial detail — there are many important decisions and choices to be made. One such crucial choice has to do with the humble yet mighty welding cable.

If you’ve ever tried to order welding cable online or gone shopping for these cables in your local supplier’s store, you may have discovered the sheer variety in the types of cables available today. So, how do you go about selecting the right type of welding cable for your welding project?

The answer lies in understanding what a welding cable does and comprehending the different types of cables and their applications.

So, What is a Welding Cable Anyway?

The definition of a welding cable is simple. It is a specialized wire that connects your welding machine to the source of electrical power. Typically, it is made up of copper strands that are insulated in suitable jacketing materials. The use of copper provides the required flexibility and conductivity, making it possible to power up your welding machine easily.

Different Types of Welding Cables

Welding cables vary based on their diameter, the type of jacketing used, their ampacity, duty cycle, and flexibility and stranding. Owing to such variety, it is essential to understand what each type of welding cable can be used for. So, let’s get into the finer details of the different types of welding cables and their suitability for various applications.

●        Types of Welding Cables Based on Flexibility and Stranding

Based on the flexibility and stranding, there are primarily two types of welding cables, namely Class M and Class K variants. Check out the key differences between these two types of welding cables, so you can choose them for appropriate welding applications.

ParticularsClass K Welding CablesClass M Welding Cables
AvailabilityMore commonly availableMore exclusive cables
Size30 AWG copper stranding34 AWG copper stranding
Jacketing and insulationStandard EPDM insulation, typically in red or black jacketingThicker and more durable insulation, typically with orange jacketing
FlexibilityLess flexibleMore flexible
DurabilityLess durableMore durable
AmpacityLower ampacityHigher ampacity

●        Types of Welding Cables Based on Insulation

Welding cables also come with different types of insulations. The most common materials used are EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), neoprene, CPE (chlorinated polyethylene) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Neoprene and EPDM are more common, while PVC is stiffer and often more durable. There are also different colors of welding cables, which can help you differentiate between cables used for various applications.

●        Types of Welding Cables Based on Size

Welding cables come in different sizes measured in terms of American Wire Gauge (AWG). The AWG sizes you’ll typically find in the market in order of increasing diameter include 4, 3, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0. The size of the welding cable is related to various other properties of the cable and the welding machine, such as the following:

  • Cable ampacity

The ampacity of a welding cable is the maximum amount of electric current that it can carry without overheating or being damaged. The ampacity reduces as the length of the cable increases, but increases as the diameter of the cable goes up. This is because increasing length means increasing resistance, while increasing diameter means less resistance.

  • Duty cycle

The AWG of the welding cable that you need to buy also depends on the duty cycle of your welding machine — which essentially indicates the period during which your machine can operate safely without overheating. It is expressed as a percentage and is calculated for a 10-minute duration. For example, a 60% duty cycle means that the machine can operate for 6 minutes continuously, and requires a 4-minute downtime before starting up again.

Maximum Output of the Welding Machine (A)Duty Cycle of the Welding MachineAWG for 0 to 50 ft. CablesAWG for 50 to 100 ft. CablesAWG for 100 to 150 ft. CablesAWG for 150 to 200 ft. Cables


Now that you have a better idea of the different types of welding cables available in the market and the best use cases for each of them, you can make a more informed decision about buying the right cable for your welding project. What’s more, you may now even be able to assist other amateur welders understand the finer details of the various types of welding cables they need to choose from and pass on this knowledge for the benefit of the global welding community.