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Old 05-04-2011, 09:11   #1
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Thoughts on Welding Cable

I am planning on replacing my vessels battery cables and after seeing the prices of tinned marine wire I have been contempating using high quality multi strand welding cable. Considering the 1 and 2 AWG cables will be going to lugs and shrinked wrapped completely sealing them does anyone see a real problem with using this type cable over the more costly marine grade cable?
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:24   #2
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Some inverters came equipped with 4/0 leads for flexibility. Never seem one burn the leads off.
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:10   #3
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

The only issue you may run into is if, during an insurance survey this is noted as not conforming to marine standards. (?) just a thought.
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:32   #4
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

I used welding cable for the run to my windless. This is a long run so there was a real cost savings. fused line with a solenoid so it is only live when the windless is on no problem for 3 years now.
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:36   #5
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Besides not being tinned, welding cable has smaller strands which are more prone to corrosion. Check out bestboatwire.com. Their prices for tinned marine wire are 1/3 of WM's.
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:36   #6
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

I've used it before, only caution would be to check the jacket for complete moisture impermeability. I've seen different grades of insulation on some welding leads and the ones that had better hand seemed to be made out of a softer maybe even permeable jacket.
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:33   #7
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

I'm with Heart of Gold on this one. Electrically, it won't make any difference. But, a surveyor might mark it as a deficiency that needs to be rectified. As to corrosion resistance, the tinned wire is better, no doubt, but I don't think it is a drastic difference in the gauges you're talking about.
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:47   #8
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

GulfStars came through with welding type cable our boat is 32 yrs young and has had a new motor put in 20 yrs ago, with same cables we bought boat in winter 04/05 and surveyor said the cables were good and of correct type for app. so I'm thinking that if it was orig. and passed muster when built must be ok now. if insurance is the prob. check with insurance to see if they have a prob. with what you want to do. i think that as long ass you can keep water out of sheathing and wire dry it would be fine , then i'm not a surveyor or insurance person note i cut a lug off a cable because i thought it was bad because i saw corrosion at end of lug wire coming was completely clean. took lug apart and connection was clean also. i guess it comes down to how much standing water stays in the bilge as to moisture getting into things
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:02   #9
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Penny wise pound foolish.

Run the numbers. AWG1 top grade marine cable is $3.75 per foot. How much do you need? Twenty feet, maybe? That's $75. Delivered. Even if you can buy welding cable for half that, or even get it for free, you will have saved $75. Big deal.

Aside from the insurance issues (and, yes, you're gonna get dinged if you don't have marine grade battery cables), there are other considerations.

One I'd have, without knowing what you're planning exactly: are you sure AWG1 and AWG2 cable is large enough?

IMHO, this isn't the place to skimp. Spend the bucks, do it right the first time, and don't worry about it for the next 20 years.

Bill
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:02   #10
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Welding cable is made the way it is for durability. It bends easily for storage, one can run over it with a vehicle, the outer coat it fire resistant, but it's harder to get a crimped end to stay on. It would have to be soldered. And I don't know about water resistance.

Battery cables do not need to be tinned and can be soldered but should be crimped first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABYC

E-11.16.1.2. FOR DC SYSTEMS
11.16.1.2.1. Conductors and flexible cords shall have a minimum rating of 50 volts.
11.16.1.2.2. The construction of insulated cables and conductors shall conform with the requirements of:
11.16.1.2.2.1. UL 1426, Cables for Boats, or 11.16.1.2.2.2. the insulating material temperature
rating requirements of: 11.16.1.2.2.2.1. SAE J378, Marine Engine
Wiring, and 11.16.1.2.2.2.2. SAE J1127, Battery Cable, or
SAE J1128, Low-Tension Primary Cable.
11.16.1.2.3. Conductors may be selected from the types listed in TABLE VI , Table VIII and TABLE IX . The temperature ratings shown contemplate the routing of wires above bilge water in locations protected from dripping, exposures to weather, spray, and oil.
11.16.1.2.4. Flexible cords shall conform with the National Electrical Code, and shall be selected from the types listed in Table VIII.
11.16.1.2.5. Conductors and flexible cords shall be stranded copper according to TABLE XII.
11.16.1.2.6. Conductors used for panelboard or switchboard main feeders shall have ampacities as determined in E-11.10.1.1 Conductors used for branch circuits or in electrical systems that do not use a panelboard or switchboard shall have their ampacities determined by their loads (See TABLE II).
11.16.1.2.7. Conductors used for panelboard or switchboard main feeders, bilge blowers, electronic equipment, navigation lights, and other circuits where voltage drop must be kept to a minimum, shall be sized for a voltage drop not to exceed three percent. Conductors used for lighting, other than navigation lights, and other circuits where voltage drop is not critical, shall be sized for a voltage drop not to exceed 10 percent.
11.16.1.2.8. To determine conductor size and insulation temperature rating, use the ampacity as specified in E-11.16.1.2.6 in conjunction with TABLE IV . Then use TABLE X or TABLE XI to check the conductor size for compliance with the maximum allowable voltage drop specified in E-11.16.1.2.7. In the event of a conflict between the ampacity table and the voltage drop tables, the larger conductor size shall be used.
11.16.1.2.9. To use TABLE X and TABLE XI , measure the length of the conductor from the positive power source connection to the electrical device and back to the negative power source connection. Use the conductor length, the system voltage, and the ampacity as specified in E-11.16.1.2.6, in conjunction with the appropriate volt drop table, i.e., 3 percent or 10 percent TABLE X or TABLE XI , to determine conductor size.
NOTES: 1. The power source connection may be the battery, or a panelboard or switchboard, if used.
2. If the ampacity as specified in E- 11.16.1.2.6 exceeds the ampacities in TABLE XI and TABLE X, the conductor size necessary to keep voltage drop below the maximum permitted level may be calculated by means of the following formula:

K x I x L
CM =
E
Where:
CM = Circular mil area of conductor.
K = (constant representing the resistivity of copper)
I = Load current in amperes
L = Length of conductor from the positive power source connection to the electrical device and back to the negative power source connection, measured in feet.
E = Maximum allowable voltage drop at load in volts (e.g., for a three percent voltage drop at nominal 12V, E= 0.03 x 12 = 0.36; for a 10 percent voltage drop at nominal 12V , E = 1.2).
3. Use TABLE XII to convert circular mils (cm) to conductor gauge. If the cm area falls between two gauge sizes, the larger conductor shall be used.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:56   #11
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Thanks mates for the input. My vessel like some here already has some areas wired with welding cables. As I am contemplating replacing all cables: batts, grounds, banks, to the switches and then to the DC panels the cable cost is a consideration. In the 2AWG size the price between the tinned and the welding cable is considerable. As my original wiring was not protected at the lugs, I am thinking that I will cut back slightly on the wire ends to see if I actually have a corrosion issue going on further up the cable. If the wire still looks like it needs to be replaced I will seek the advice of a credible surveyor.
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Old 05-04-2011, 14:19   #12
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Welding cables are designed to be flexible so they are made with small diameter wire which is very prone to corrosion problems. They will handle the current as well as similar sized regular electrical cable till corrosion gets them and it will, eventually. That will increase resistance, heat buildup to the point of becoming a fire hazard.

High current cable should not be soldered as the primary means of securing a connection. Crimp them first and solder after if you are really anal. The reason is that these cables carry a lot of current and can get quite hot, real quick in normal operation causing problems with the solder in the connectors. In any case, crimping is the preferred connection of any electrical connection where possible.
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Old 05-04-2011, 15:34   #13
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Personally I wouldn't have a problem using welding cable. If it can be used and abused in In an industrial setting day after day or outside in all weathers and temperatures I don't see why it wouldn't stand up in a static situation aboard a boat. Some of the coatings used may be an issue as they tend to crack over time. You should see the ones on my welder but they are over 40 years old.
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Old 05-04-2011, 15:43   #14
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

From the perspective of one who was a shipyard steelworker, I'd recommend getting the tinned marine wire. Weld cable will, of course, work but won't last as long. Best of luck with the re-wire job, better you than me!
Mike
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Old 05-04-2011, 15:51   #15
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Re: Thoughts on Welding Cable

Quote:
Originally Posted by cburger View Post
I am planning on replacing my vessels battery cables and after seeing the prices of tinned marine wire I have been contempating using high quality multi strand welding cable. Considering the 1 and 2 AWG cables will be going to lugs and shrinked wrapped completely sealing them does anyone see a real problem with using this type cable over the more costly marine grade cable?
HMP has what seems to be a good price on marine grade wire that might be worth considering although you would have shipping and possibly duty: Holland Marine Products

I am not associated with HMP (aside from being a customer).
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