Do you know the difference between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses?
Unless you are an electrician or electrical engineer, you probably haven’t thought much about the differences and similarities between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses. It’s not a subject that tends to come up in everyday conversation. Unless, that is, you need to run multiple wires or cables from one piece of equipment to another or to a power source. That’s when knowing the difference between wiring and cable and the strengths and weaknesses of each becomes more important.
We put together fives facts about wires and cables to help you understand the difference, and why you should choose a wire harness over a cable assembly in certain situations.
Wires & Cables Aren’t the Same Thing
This fact may seem pretty obvious, but many people use the terms “wire” and “cable” interchangeably. It’s understandable. Wires and cables are similar in that they carry electricity or signal from one place to another. However, there are a few very important differences. Wires are made up of a strand (or strands) of conductive material like copper and are suitable for a wide ranges of applications beyond carrying electricity and signal. They are also one of the components that make up a cable. Conversely, a cable is made of two or more conductors that are insulated. They tend to be better protected than wires and are suitable for applications that require more durability.
Both Are Used to Organize Wires & Cables
The basic purpose of both wire harnesses and cable assemblies is to bundle wires or cables. Bundling wires or cables allows you to keep them more organized, especially in situations where having multiple cables and/or wires takes up too much space or can cause additional wear that is easily addressed by bundling. A few common places you see bundled cables or wires are cars and computers.
Wire Harnesses Have a Thin Layer of Protection
While cable assemblies are more heavily protected with insulation and jacketing material, wires usually have a thin exterior covering made of thermoset or thermoplastic material. This covering is meant to protect the environment or a person handling the wire from the flow of electricity. The jacketing material can also be color coded to aid in keeping systems organized and make it easy to identify different types of wires.
Custom Cable Assemblies Are More Durable
With the additional materials used in custom cable assemblies, a cable manufacturer is able to design the assembly to address exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, friction, chemicals, and more. They can also take size and flexibility requirements into consideration, so the cable is a perfect fit for your application. A cable assembly may require less maintenance and can also be easier to install since the conductors are bundled.
Wires Are More Affordable…When They Are Right for the Job
You may be thinking extra protection means a custom cable assembly is always the right choice for your project, but that’s not always the case. In situations that require a small, lightweight option, a wire might be your best bet. Because wires are generally less expensive to produce, it can be a more affordable option — especially if the wire will be used indoors in a relatively sheltered environment.
Understanding the difference between a custom cable assembly and wire harness is an important step when considering what you need for your project. The team at Meridian Cable is able to help you make the right choice for your application, environment, and budget. Get in touch with us when you are ready to get started. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.