The terms welding cables or welding leads are used to mean the same thing. Cables used for welding must be:
- 1- Flexible
- 2- Well-insulated
- 3- Correct size for the job.
Most welding cables are made from stranded copper wire. Some manufacturers sell a newer type of cable made from aluminum wires. The aluminum wires are lighter and less expensive than copper. Because aluminum as a conductor is not as good as copper for given wire size, the aluminum wire should be one size larger than would be required for copper.
The insulation on welding cables will be exposed to hot sparks, flames, grease, oils, sharp edges, impact, and other types of wear. To withstand such wear only specially manufactured insulation should be used for welding cable. Several new types of insulation are available that will give longer service against these adverse conditions.
As electricity flows through a cable, the resistance to the flow causes the cable to heat up and increase the voltage drop. To minimize the loss of power and prevent overheating, the electrode cable and work cable must be the correct size as Welding Machine Vendor recommendations (the minimum size cable that is required for each amperage and length).
Large welding lead sizes make electrode manipulation difficult. The smaller cable can be spliced to the electrode end of a large cable to make it more flexible. This whip-end cable must not be over 10 ft (3 m) long as a typical recommendation from Welding Machine Vendor.