Welding cable is a popular portable cord that is used in various welding applications as well as many power supply applications not exceeding 600V where some flexibility is required.
Welding cable sizes range from 6 awg to 500 MCM. It consists of bare annealed copper per ASTM B-3. The jacket on most welding cable is thermoset, typically EPDM or Neoprene. The most widely manufactured colors of standard welding cable are black and red. The standard temperature rating 90C.
Many times welding cables are used in applications outside of welding but it is dependent on your specific requirements. It is mainly designed for use with connections from electrode holder and clamp to arc welder, welding box, bus or transformer. We always recommend checking the welding cable ampacities chart prior to using welding cable for a welding application or a 600V in-line application.
There are many manufactures of welding cable but the two of the largest are General Cable and American Insulated Wire. Both of these manufactures also manufacture more durable versions of the standard welding cable for extra hard usage. These will typically include a brighter colored jacket (usually orange), have higher strand counts for increased flexibility, higher temperature rating and greater industry approvals. Be aware these higher grade welding cables are rarely available on put-up lengths over 500′. Many times these more durable versions of welding cable can be used in applications such as on a hoist or crane to save money over the more expensive pendant and reeling cable. You should always check with your engineer for exact requirements of your electrical job before you use a welding cable in an application outside of its normal specifications.
It is important to understand the difference in strand counts on your welding cable. The stranding is what makes up the majority of the flexibility of the cable. Many companies market their standard welding cable as Super Flex or Ultra Flex but they are selling a normal strand count welding cable.
There are two primary types of stranding on a welding cable. One is Class K, which is 30 awg strands and this will be your typical welding cable that is offered most predominately in black and red jacket colors. The other version is Class M stranding, and that is 34 awg and is a more durable and flexible version. It is the one that typically comes in the brighter florescent jacket and it will cost 20-40% more than typical welding cable due to the increase in copper involved and tougher jacketing properties. You should always ask the type of stranding on the welding cable you are being sold so you are aware of the exact product you are ordering.