If you have tried looking for car battery or cable for replacing wires in your vehicle, you've probably came across cable type like battery leads, welding leads, automotive primary wires, and possibly even marine duty cables. There are many different type of cables available that will work interchangeably between applications. However, different cables are ideal for certain applications depending on the the conductor size, strand count, and insulation. If you are unsure about which cable to use in your vehicle, below is a list of common cables types.
Battery leads, which are made primarily for connecting automotive battery to the electrical components of the vehicle, are insulated with PVC or XLP. PVC and XLP battery leads have high temperature ratings. They are also resistant to oil, which makes them the preferred cable for use under the hood of a vehicle. The gauge sizes of battery leads range from 4/0 to 6 AWG, with the conductor typically made from copper stranded wires. The large gauge size of battery leads can handle high amperage, which allows the leads to be used for hooking up amplifiers and inverters.
Automotive primary wires
Similar to battery leads, automotive primary wires are insulated with PVC or XLP rubber insulator. The difference between battery leads and automotive primary wires are their applications. Automotive primary wires are manufactured in smaller gauges to be used for wiring lights, switches, relay boxes, and other electrical components. Automotive primary wires gauges range from 8 to 22 gauge.
Marine grade battery leads
Marine rated cable usually has an "M" in the label that represents that the cable is safe for use in corrosive marine environments. Since normal copper wires corrodes in water, wires that are rated for marine duty are usually coated with a layer of tin around the wire conductor to prevent corrosion. Marine rated cables are usually manufactured with a thicker insulation for higher level protection.
Welding leads are made with specifications that are best suited for arc welding. Welding leads are made with higher strand counts for flexibility and are insulated with Neoprene or EPDM for more durability. Welding cable can withstand a higher temperature range than battery cable. Typical EPDM insulated welding leads are rated for 105°C, while Neoprene has a temperature rating of 90°C. Welding leads are preferred over battery leads for most applications that require high durability as well as flexibility.