NOTE: For any application, if a cable can handle the amount of current that will be drawn at a given voltage and has protection for the environment it will be used in (e.g. heat, sunlight, water, being stepped on, etc.) that cable will work. However, though a cable can be used, it may not be the most cost-effective option. For example, battery wire is perfectly suitable as wire for a desk lamp, but there are cheaper alternatives.
Battery wire has different SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) approvals depending on its intended application, which means it is safe to use for that application. Battery wire is used in automotive engines of all shapes and size - from dragsters and race cars to common commuter cars, large trucks, and tractors. Compared to other types of cable, battery wire is inexpensive and offers great resistance to heat and engine oils.
Even though welding cable is not SAE approved, many people like to use welding cable in their cars instead of battery wire because welding cable is more flexible, more resistant to physical damage like cuts and tears, and can handle a lot more current than a typical 12 volt DC car battery produces. However, the insulation used for welding cable, typically EPDM or Neoprene, does not provide good protection against engine oils and has lower temperature ratings (up to 105°C compared to 125°C for SGX and STX battery wire). Though it will work, welding cable costs more and may require more maintenance unless you use cable with oil resistant insulation.
Compared to welding cable, car battery cable is not as flexible, less resistant to mechanical wear and tear, and has lower amp ratings. Thus, battery wire is almost exclusively used in automotive engines.
The main advantage battery wire has is that it provides great protection against engine oils and grease, is cheaper, and cables with cross-linked insulation (e.g. SGX or STX) have higher temperature ratings. There are also special "marine" grade cables that are rated for even higher temperatures than battery wires with cross-linked insulation and are designed for use in salty, corrosive, and "wet" conditions where the cable may be submersed in water.
Call us at 877.474.8209 to speak with an application engineer about your project.