Starter or Battery Cable VS. Welding Cable
Short version – unless you need a 600V capacity, or extreme flexibility, welding cable is expensive overkill for most automotive applications.
Welding cable has the same amount of copper as Starter (Battery) cable of the same gauge. They can carry the same amperage in a 12V or 24V application.
Welding cable was developed for welding tools that required higher voltage (600V), be very flexible, and withstand constant movement. In most automotive applications, you are only dealing with 12V or 24V, and once the cable is installed, it doesn’t need to flex much.
What gives Welding cable its flexibility is its construction consisting of more and finer strands than standard starter cable. For instance, our 2 GA standard starter cable is constructed of 64 strands of 20 GA wire. A 2 GA ‘Welding’ cable is constructed of 651 strands of 30 GA wire (remember that as gauge numbers get larger, the wire diameter gets smaller – see this article for a more in depth explanation).
So the major benefit welding cable offers the automotive applications is its flexibility. If you have to route your starting cables through a series of tight bends, then welding cable might be worth considering. It certainly has a nice feel and is easy to work with. It is up to you to decide if those features are worth the significant price increase.
A good quality starter cable is capable of handling most automotive applications. Many people compare welding cable to their old, dried out, hardened, and corroded cables. Compounding the issue, inexpensive starter cables might be constructed of CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum – see more info in this article) which, due to its aluminum construction is stiffer than even standard starting cable. (FYI – the starter cable we sell is 100% copper and not CCA wire.) So, in reality, a good quality starter cable is likely more than flexible enough for most applications.
In our experience when most people physically handle a good quality starter cable and consider the cost difference, they find end up going with standard starter cable.