Welding machine cable: brands, specifications, how to choose
Often, the cables supplied with welding machines are short and have an aluminum core that quickly overheats.
To equip your inverter with reliable cords for the electrode holder and the mass clamp, you need to understand what brands of welding wire there are, and what to pay attention to when choosing.
So, you can choose a cable for a welding machine that will work comfortably at any air temperature, and the electrical line itself will be able to withstand the loads exerted.
In this article:
Welding cable brands and their characteristics
- How to choose a welding cable
- What should be the core of the welding cable
- The cross-section of a welding cable
- Requirements for the flexibility of the cable
- Cable insulation
- The length of the welding cable and whether it can be increased
Welding cable brands and their characteristics:
Since the welding cable experiences increased loads both from the machine and from external factors (construction conditions, friction on the ground or concrete, heat, frost), its service life and efficiency depend on the correct choice.
First, let’s delve into what welding cables exist and what are their differences.
This is the most common type of cable, which stands for “flexible cable”.
It is suitable for operation with a direct current of up to 1000 W or with an alternating current of up to 600 V and a frequency of no more than 400 Hz.
The wire is used to connect the inverter to the 220 or 380 V network, as well as to connect the electrode holder and the mast clamp.
Unlike the previous cable, a thinner core diameter is used here, so the cord is particularly flexible.
As a result, it has a smaller turning radius.
This is especially useful when welding in hard-to-reach places when the welder needs to bring the hand with the holder at an unusual angle.
It is also practical when working at height, where it is customary to wind the cable on the arm (to make it easier to hold) – then the loops will not bulge much on the sides.
Unlike the KG, it is designed to pass 220 V at a frequency of 50 Hz.
Such a welding cable with the addition of the letter “H” in the marking means that the material is non-flammable.
The insulation shell is made of a heat-resistant coating that can withstand temperatures over 200 degrees.
This wire is useful if you have to conduct electric welding/cutting literally in fire conditions (the needs of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, repair crews on ships, etc.).
In the household and industrial areas, this is practical when the assembled structure is large, and the welder needs to move around the newly welded areas to continue working.
Then the cable in contact with the heated metal will not melt.
The index of this product contains the letters “XL”, implying the permitted operation in the cold.
To do this, special rubber is added to the composition.
It retains flexibility at temperatures up to -60 degrees, so it is especially suitable for working in the far North.
If you often have to conduct welding in the winter on the street, then pay attention to products marked KG-XL.
This type of cable can withstand air temperatures up to + 85 degrees, so it is optimal for operation in a hot environment.
The coating actively resists fungi and mold, and the cable is suitable for working in wet, warm conditions.
How to choose a welding cable
Having understood the labeling of goods, let’s move on to practical tips for choosing.
The welding cable must correspond to the machine with which it will interact.
There are other parameters that are selected based on the upcoming welding tasks.
What should be the core of the welding cable
The welding cable connected from the machine to the holder and the mass can be single-core (for example, 1×16).
The first digit means that in the section it has a common core, not divided into two or three isolated lines under a single shell.
This design reduces heat and promotes accelerated voltage transfer from the source to the holder.
Single-core welding cable.
Multi-core cables are designated 11×30, where the first digit indicates the presence of 11 separate cores.
This design is used in industrial installations that use a voltage of 500 A or higher.
The core itself can be aluminum or copper.
In stores, most often complete welding machines with aluminum cables, since they are cheaper.
This is enough for a novice welder or rare use of an inverter.
Aluminum welding cable.
Professionals always install copper cables, because their resistivity is 7 times less than that of aluminum.
As a result, the current loss is reduced. Even copper bends better and warms up less.
Copper welding cable.
Chinese cheap cable can be called copper, but contain no more than 70% Cu.
This is easily seen by the dull color of the vein in the section.
For household needs, the product is suitable, but for production, it is better to abandon it.
The cross-section of a welding cable
Inside the metal, the core is thin wires, which can be from 30 to 1000.
Their total cross-section is selected according to the power of the device and the current user.
For example, a cable with a cross-section of 1×6 mm2 is designed for a maximum load of 11 kW with a current of 80-100 A.
But you can never use the calculated values to the maximum.
It is optimal to always divide them by 2. As a result, such a wire is suitable for a power source with a power consumption of 5 kW.
As the current (A) increases, it is necessary to increase the cable cross-section, otherwise, it is like trying to refuel a car at a gas station through a straw — a narrowed passage will reduce productivity.
In order to avoid losses of welding current, the cross-section is selected based on the output power of the device according to this table.
|Current strength, A||Cable section, mm²|
|330-400||1×100 or 11×50|
|600||1×185 and above|
If you cook with a “two” at a current of 80 A, then you can easily do it with a thin cable of 1×6 mm2.
But this will not allow you to use the “troika” electrode.
Therefore, the devices need to be completed based on the possible maximum welding current strength.
For a household inverter in the country, a minimum indicator of 1×16 mm2 is sufficient. The workshop needs 1.25 or 1×50 mm2.
Working with a cable with a smaller cross-section leads to its overheating and melting.
Requirements for the flexibility of the cable
Welding requires a cable with at least Class 4 flexibility.
More rigid wires will twist the hands of the welder, they are more difficult to wind for transportation, it is inconvenient to manipulate the holder when conducting the seam in a ceiling or vertical position.
The cord with the designation KG belongs to the 5th class of flexibility. It has a “hair” diameter of 0.41 mm.
Products marked with COG belong to the 6th class. Increased flexibility is achieved due to the “hair” diameter of 0.21 mm.
The cable sheath is manufactured in accordance with GOST 23286-78.
The insulation should not be thinner than 1.1-1.2 mm to reliably protect the current-carrying part from exposure.
The outer winding is made of rubber with the addition of various components. It should be soft and flexible to the touch.
The insulation class is indicated by letters and indicates the maximum heating temperature that the shell can withstand.
For example, the index F implies 150 degrees and H — 180.
The length of the welding cable and whether it can be increased
The length of the welding cable affects the ease of movement of the welder when work is carried out along a long structure (for example, a fence) or at a height.
Then the device can be moved less often, and move only with the holder in your hand.
For stationary activities, 2 meters per mass and 3 meters per holder are sufficient.
For the workshop, it is better to buy 5 meters for the electrode holder.
But you cannot extend the cable at will.
Increasing the length increases the resistance, which means that the current strength will decrease.
The maximum length is calculated using the formula:
MAXIMUM WELDING CURRENT DIVIDED BY 100 = MULTIPLIER.
For example, a device with an indicator of 160 A:100=1.6.
The cross-section of the existing cable must be divided by the resulting multiplier.
We have a cable of 1×25 mm2. If 25 is divided by 1.6, we get 15 meters.
This is the maximum length that needs to be broken down into a mass and a holder, for example, 10 and 5 m.
If you use a 20 m cable, the current from the 160 A device will drop to 120 A.
Each increase in length adds weight, which affects the convenience of transportation.
To grow the cable, use copper crimping. This ensures tight contact and no overheating.
Twists are not allowed, because they create additional resistance.
Copper welding cable
Using these tips, you will be able to choose a welding cable that exactly matches the power of the device and the upcoming tasks.
On the other hand, if you will not follow proper tips and have no idea about welding cable in the future you will not work properly.