Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are important components used in different industries. They both play an important role in powering different electrical devices, electrical systems, and equipment. Electrical contractors, distributors, and manufacturers used them frequently so most of the time they are interchanged with one another without knowing them knowing it. If you want to know the difference between cable assemblies and wire harnesses, you came to the right place. If you do not know which one to use, a cable assembly or a wire harness for your project here at SEI, we will be sharing with you an article discussing the differences between the two. If you want to know more information, we encourage you to keep reading below to find out.

Most of the time, there are different terms used to refer to wire harness and cable assembly, which include: a wiring loom, cable harness, wire harness, wiring assembly, etc. These terms usually refer to a group of electrical wires or cables that are joined together so that they can transmit microwave, RF signals, or electricity. The cables or wires are joined together using a durable material like rubber, electrical tape, conduit, vinyl, a weave of string, or a combination of materials. 

What is a cable assembly?

Cable assemblies are customized cables. It is a group of wires combined to become a single unit. It is created to be rigid, structured, durable, and it can be used outdoors, however, it usually depends on what materials are used to manufacture it. This product is responsible for providing power to different cables in an electrical system. It also works by organizing them in a unit, making them easier to use, install, maintain, check and replace in case a problem or issue occurs. 

A cable assembly is installed in one panel or port then it will be connected to a single unit that is directly connected to the power source. The wires of the cable assembly will be responsible for pushing communications or safely transferring the electricity through them and they may consist of different wires or cables. The wires making up the cable assembly usually consist of different colors or with different marks or are stripped to make them easy to identify. Some cable assemblies have wires that are exposed, while others are enclosed and secured in a fitted sleeve. 

Cable assemblies are durable, which makes them an excellent choice for outdoor applications and they can handle huge capacities of electricity. Due to their sturdy structure, cable assemblies can cope with high heat, moisture, abrasion, corrosion, and harsh environmental conditions. 

Cable assemblies protect and prevent any damage to the wires or cables by keeping them united and decreasing any physical trauma that is caused by strong vibrations and other factors in the environment. They can protect the wires and cables by preventing any issues that can be caused by exposure to dirt, dust, oil, and water. They can also prevent any potential problems that can be caused by worn wires from the excessive vibrational friction as well as electrical shorts whenever there are damaged areas on the wires. 

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What is a wire harness?

A wire harness is different from a cable assembly. One of the main differences is their build. Wire harnesses are manufactured according to the needed geometric and electrical requirements of the specified application. A diagram will then be created and provided on the monitor or paper as a guide for the preparation of the materials and the step-by-step process of the assembly. 

The wires will be cut and coiled into the required length using a wire cutting machine. The wires can also be striped or printed by a machine during the process or afterward using a separate machine. 

The difference between a wire harness and a cable assembly is that on a wire harness, the end of the wires are stripped to expose the interior metal part and will then be fitted with any terminal or connector housing. The wires will then be joined and clamped together on a workbench or the assembly pinboard, depending on the design requirements for creating the cable harness. It will then be fitted on a flexible conduit, nylon binder, or protective sleeve. It will then be connected directly to the equipment on-site or be shipped if it is an order made by a customer. The wire harnesses vary from one another, depending on their intended application and it is more fragile compared to the cable assembly because the end of the wires is stripped and attached. 

Due to ever-improving technology, a lot of wires and cables are machine-made, but the wire harness and cable assembly are hand-manufactured because there are a lot of processes that are involved and it also includes different applications. 

A wire harness acts as a wrapping material that keeps the different cables together, Instead of binding a lot of wires into a single strand; the wire harness serves its purpose by grouping the different cables and wrapping them up into a complex structure. Inside a wire harness, each wire or cable is separately covered with a sheath or insulation. A cable or wire can be pulled out of the wire harness if needed. 

The main purpose of a wire harness is to bind together different wires or cables for easier connectivity. The wire harness helps organize and prevent the electrical systems from becoming too messy and difficult to maintain by keeping the different cables in one place, which will then allow faster and easier connectivity. 

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The wire harness can be made from simple material like a nylon thread or a zip tie which makes them easy to group and keep the cables together. An external sheath can also be used instead and it is also responsible for covering the wires that are kept inside it. The external sheath of the wire harness is not designed to protect the cables, but instead, keeps them together as a single unit. Wire harnesses are not as sturdy and durable as cable assemblies. They are mostly recommended for indoor application use only. A wire harness has a limited load capacity and it depends on the size of the cables or wires that will be grouped. 

What are the two important differences between cable assemblies and wire harnesses?

  • Structure 
  • Function

The cables or wires of a cable assembly look and work as one thick wire. While each wire within the jacket or sleeve may function individually, the product resembles a single unit or a thick wire. A wire harness is a grouping of separately sheathed wires. Each cable or wire is visible within the wire harness. The individual components can be easily removed and placed in a different direction. The cable assembly is durable and can be used for outdoor applications, while a wire harness is recommended for indoor use.

The jacket or sleeve used on a cable assembly is designed to protect it and improve its durability and stress resistance, so it is highly recommended for outdoor use. The wire harness, on the other hand, uses a coating made from electrical tape, plastic, or industrial yarn which does not protect against water, sunlight exposure, or other environmental factors, which makes them only appropriate for indoor applications only. 

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Cable assemblies can be used in tight and smaller spaces because of their single and durable construction assembly, while the wire harness is usually limited because of the different wires or cables contained inside the structure. If you have decided to go for a cable assembly, you must understand what it is, what is the purpose of the exterior material, and what its applications are. 

A cable assembly is two or more conductors of electricity, Microwaves, or RF. It is usually covered with a single jacket or sheath. The cables are usually consisting of a positive wire that handles electricity, a neutral wire for the electrical loop, and a grounding wire. 

A cable assembly is a combination of wires or cables that are enclosed in a single tube of material such as rubber, polyurethane, or vinyl. The cable assembly encases all the wires inside a cable. The exterior material of the cable assembly functions by protecting the wires from high-temperature exposure, fire, water, dust, friction, and chemicals. It also protects people and environmental materials from potential harm caused by electricity. This will make sure that the electrical system is organized and easy to maintain for technicians in case there are issues with the cables. 

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What are the applications for cable assembly?

Cable assemblies are used by different industries, especially those that focus on electronic equipment. Cable assemblies are capable of holding and organizing different wires and keeping them safe and protected from harsh environmental conditions so they can be used in indoor or outdoor applications. The cable assemblies can install the wires and cables and keep them organized and allow all the electrical technicians to have safe and easy access to the electrical system. 

If you need a cable assembler, you can check out this link here. If you want to know more information about cable assemblies or order products at SEI, please contact us through this contact form

If you are based in California, you must check out SEI. If you want to inquire about our products please email us at [email protected]. We are located at 66 First Street #4, Gilroy, CA 95020 USA. If you need cable assemblies and other RF and Microwave products, you must only choose SEI. Call us today so we can assist you with your needs.