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  • Welding cables

    I was wondering what you guys run for welding cables. gauge and length.

    Which gauge cable seems "too big" to comfortably weld with, without becoming overly fatigued? I ask because I want to be able to run as high of amperage as possible at 50' but not also have this very heavy cable for my stinger lead.

    I'm planning on only running at most 250 amps for stick welding with my SAM-400 at 50ft. I know that I'll need much bigger to run full amperage with my SAM-400, but to simply keep the cost down I want to try to use smaller cables. My plan is to get smaller cables and just not run the machine over 250 amps. And if/when I do need the higher amperage I'll go buy bigger cables.

    I have figured out a couple solutions, which one is best I'm not sure, thats where i need help

    Plan #1-75' of 2/0- 50' of ground and 25' of "electrode", then i would buy 25' of say either ultra flexible #1 or #2 as a whip

    Plan #2-100' of 1/0 just split it 50/50

    Plan #3-75' of 1/0- 50' of ground and 25' of "electrode" with a 25' whip of again #2 ultra flexible cable.

    or Plan #4- 100' of #1 split 50/50

    Now which one seems most user friendly and the cheapest? and Im not set on using one of these 4 plans, any suggestions are welcome.
    Thanks, Mike

  • #2
    The word cheap and the word copper should not be used anywhere near each other. I have been doing electrical work for 10 years and copper has gone up 400% in that time. Good luck with your new toy.

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    • #3
      Thanks! I guess I understand that copper isnt cheap, its almost worth it to find old dead welders and gut the copper and take it to the scrap yard...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by farmboy weldor
        I'm planning on only running at most 250 amps for stick welding with my SAM-400 at 50ft.

        Plan #1-75' of 2/0- 50' of ground and 25' of "electrode", then i would buy 25' of say either ultra flexible #1 or #2 as a whip

        Plan #2-100' of 1/0 just split it 50/50

        Plan #3-75' of 1/0- 50' of ground and 25' of "electrode" with a 25' whip of again #2 ultra flexible cable.

        or Plan #4- 100' of #1 split 50/50


        Thanks, Mike


        50' of lead is way too short in my opinion and you will constantly want more reach.
        Most folks buy a spool (250'), cut it in half.
        I've got 125' of everything on my truck and have 1/0 which will run in your 250 amp range at that length. Your whip only needs to be 10' or 15'.
        I buy the small orange super flex for a whip buy any small lead will work.
        I wouldn't buy #1 for 250 amp service, and I don't think you need 2/0.
        Keep in mind that a SAE-400 will put out close to 600 amps at maxine.

        JTMcC.
        Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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        • #5
          I've always been under the impression that an electrical conductor only has as much capacity as its smallest restriction. If you look at it this way would a smaller whip at the end of your main lead not cause a restriction in the whole circut, or is it a case of the whip being short enough that there is not enough resistance in that distance to cause a problem? Just something I've been thinking about lately.
          Owner of Burnt Beard Fabrication & Welding Ltd.

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          • #6
            Shorerider,

            If you look up welding cables, it is usually in a chart form. One side of chart is Amperage, adjacent side is Distance. It is pretty easy to figure out what size cable is required for a particular application.

            Using the chart, you can also see how it is possible to run a smaller gauge cable, at elevated amperage over a very short (10 - 15') distance and have little or no choking effect on the complete circuit.

            Keep in mind when selecting cables, your distance is the complete circuit = electrode & work cables + "whips" so in this instance we would be looking up 250 amp @ 100 feet complete circuit.

            If you size your cables or whip too small, you will generate heat,(because of the resistance) and not have full amperage at the electrode.

            Hope that explains things for you.
            Later,
            Jason

            Professional Spark Generator by Trade.

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            • #7
              Farmboy,

              As one individual that has already done the "50' of welding lead", I echo JT's sentiments that it is not long enough. Seriously consider 100 to 125' a side + whips.....You'll enjoy the convenience. When budget allows, you may wish to aquire an additional 50' a side that you can put in the circuit when you need it. And as you progress over time with your welder, you WILL need it.

              I would keep distance in mind when gauging your cables, and maybe go a little heavier than you'd like for short distance. You'll only be lifting the whip to weld anyway, so you won't feel the extra weight.

              Opinions vary....From experience, this is mine.
              Later,
              Jason

              Professional Spark Generator by Trade.

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              • #8
                Welding Cables

                I prefer to have a little more cable than less. I like having some flexibility in site location for my welder.

                It is important when setting up to payout all of the cable so it doesn't interfere with your voltages, there is enough drop there already from the cable. Keeping the cable coiled or even worse spooled on a steel drum will change your output dramatically.

                There is a use for coiled cable though, if you need a magnetic tipped screwdriver just drop it in the middle of the coil and weld awhile. I found this phenomenon by the "steel toe" method long before I understood it.

                Below is some voltage drop information, some of the numbers don't line up perfect out in the third and fourth place, possible rounding errors but you'll get the idea.

                Just don't cheat yourself out of some good cable for a couple bucks, you'll regret it.


                An example of the voltage drop on a weld cable (50 ft of 4/0):
                4/0 cable has a resistance of 49.1 micro Ohms per foot.
                Ohms law: Volts = Amps x Resistance
                Resistance of 50 ft 4/0 cable = .0000491 x 50 = .002455 ohms
                Vdrop = 400A x .002455 = .982 volts
                Plus there is the voltage drop of weld cable connections.

                If one is using 2/0 cable = 77.93 micro Ohms / foot = nearly double the voltage drop.
                (These resistance levels are for cable at 68 degrees F.)


                This link will help with the comparison

                http://www.tfcbooks.com/referenc/wiresize.htm

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                • #9
                  Considering the price of copper, I would not skimp on leads. Buy them once and be done.
                  When I ran my SAM, I had 150feet of 2/0 cut in half with a 20foot whip.
                  If you tring those leads out and take off the whip, it is possible to run some pretty high amerages without any trouble. I did a lot of gouging and ran a fair amount of wire with those leads.
                  My experiance has been that if you want to run high amps that the ground clamp is the bad spot in the circuit. I will take it off and bolt the work lead to the weldment.

                  But that is just me....
                  Jeff

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                  • #10
                    Since I do a lot of heavy air-arc work, I use 4/0 cable, approx 75' ground and 125' electrode. If I have to go further, I have several hundred feet of 2/0 cable I can splice on, but not at 500+ amps for any length of time. If you are only doing work for yourself, on your own farm, and have the welder on a trailer you can drag around with a tractor, shorter and lighter cables will work fine, I worked for a time for a farmer, had everything on a 4x4 truck, with 50' cables, fine for implements, only times I had to grab more and heavier was when welding across creeks, bridges or pumps in the middle ...

                    And like Jeff said, normally the ground clamp is the point of most resistance .... and any other connections or splices need to be clean also ...

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                    • #11
                      Mike,

                      You've got a lot of welder there. I can't think of a reason to need the full output for any farm chore, including heavy equipment. I'll bet 95% of your work is done with 1/8" electrodes, and I can't think of a reason for needing more than 175-amps for one of those.

                      You can run 100% duty cycle at 200 amps and 100' on #2's, and 250 amps at 100% duty cycle at 100' on #1's.

                      For your application, I'd do just like JT McC said. If the cost is just too high, get a shorter length of 1/0 and use connectors to add on lengths of #2 to get where you want to go.

                      Hank
                      ...from the Gadget Garage
                      Millermatic 210 w/3035, BWE
                      Handler 210 w/DP3035
                      TA185TSW
                      Victor O/A "J" series, SuperRange

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                      • #12
                        It all depends on your budget of course, but I would recomend that you go with 2/0 with the machine you have and get 100' of lead and 100' of ground. You may not need that much cable for what you are doing now but you never know what type of work you will be doing in the future. It always is better to have more than what you need in case something changes. Copper is so expensive and if you buy small (#1) cable, and wind up running more amps with your macine in the future, it will be more costly to buy heavy cable down the road. You can always stick a 15' #2 or #1 whip at the end of the lead.

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                        • #13
                          scumbags up in the city are gutting everything in sight for the copper...ripping off plumbing/ wiring from houses ect ect

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by weldthis
                            scumbags up in the city are gutting everything in sight for the copper...ripping off plumbing/ wiring from houses ect ect
                            Definately something to think about, it is a huge problem in my area. Few months ago a bunch of guys unbolted the bases of a bunch of lamp standards in the park, knocked them over and ripped out the wiring.. No matter what and how much cable you get, make sure it is secured, even in you own home. Our world is falling into a sad state...
                            Owner of Burnt Beard Fabrication & Welding Ltd.

                            BigBlue 500D
                            Dynasty 200DX
                            Millermatic 211
                            4' Box and Pan Break
                            IR compressor

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                            • #15
                              i recently bought a whole spool (250') of 2/0 for my future service truck or trailer project. Now as luck would have it i found it on sale for 3 buck a foot so knowing copper prices have been on the rise for the last 10 years i thought i'd just buy the whole roll as prices will only go up. i plan to run a TB 302G doing everything from light gouging, heavy & light repair and fabrication as well. it looks asthough it's goina have to sit nicely secured in th garage for a while yet.. maybe i'll get to break it out in a year
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