What is the Difference Between a Cable and a Harness?

If you’ve been reading up on the use of a wire harness in electrical projects, chances are you have some questions about how this differs from electrical cables, whether they can be used in conjunction with one another and whether you even need to worry about a wire harness for your project in the first place. Let’s take a deep dive into the difference between a cable and a wire harness so you can have a greater understanding of what you need for your project.

Wires vs. cables

While the word “wire” is commonly used interchangeably with the word “cable,” the two terms are actually not the same. While a wire is a single strand of an electrical conductor, such as copper or aluminum, a cable is a bundle of wires that has two or more insulated wires wrapped in one jacket, or sheath. Most cables include at least three wires: a positive wire, a neutral wire and a grounding wire.

Cables vs. wiring harnesses

Now that we’ve established that cables and wires are not the same thing, and that in fact it takes several wires to make up a single cable, let’s talk about the difference between cables and wiring harnesses. A wiring harness is a custom-created electrical solution that keeps cables, as well as single wires, organized. The cables are bundled together in a wire harness for a compact, efficient design. However, a single cable can still be removed from a wiring harness if necessary.

Wiring harnesses vs. cable assemblies

Another thing you may run into when researching a custom wiring harness manufacturer is the often-interchangeably used terms “wiring harness” and “cable assembly.” Once again, these two things are similar but not the same. While a wiring harness offers a low-cost and efficient organizational solution, a cable assembly offers far more protection against the elements, with a rugged outer sheath keeping components safe. For this reason, a cable assembly is a better choice than a wire harness for any electrical products that are designed for outdoor, all-weather use. While a wiring harness might be a cost-effective solution for indoor applications that are not likely to need protection against rain, snow, high heat and wind, outdoor applications benefit greatly from the inclusion of a cable assembly.

Which one is right for your needs?

If you are still not sure whether a wiring harness is the best choice for your project, contact Rapport, Inc. today for expert advice and insights on how to proceed with a custom cable harness manufacturer.