The term cable assemblies and wire harnesses have often been misunderstood as being the same thing. The main confusion stems from the terms being used interchangeably thus, causing greater misunderstandings about their functionality. To demystify this confusion, this month our experts are distinguishing the difference between cable assemblies and wire harnesses. But first, let’s go back to the basics.

What is the difference between a cable and wire? 

Simply put, the difference between a wire and a cable is that a wire is made up of a single conductor that conducts electricity. The single conductor can be made up of materials such as aluminum or copper. Cables, on the other hand, are made up of two or more wires that run together. They are often braided or bonded together which is why you see cables that are bunched.


Wire Harnesses 

Wire harnesses at their most basic level are made of simple exterior sheaths that wrap wires or cables. The exterior sheath is usually made up of thermoplastic or thermoset material which ensures that the wires are protected from environmental threats. An excellent choice for keeping electrical systems neat and tidy, wire harnesses also are a cost-effective electrical solution. However, the downside of their low cost is their inability to protect interior wires from temperature swings, constant friction and other factors that can cause damage.


Cable assemblies 

On the other hand, cable assemblies are groups of wires or cables that are covered by stronger intensive exterior products. Such products include heavy-duty shrink-wrapped thermoplastic, thermoplastic rubber, or vinyl. Very similar to wire harnesses, cable assemblies help to keep wires and cables organised. However, a cable assemblies’ main responsibility is to protect the interior environment of the cables and wires. Cable assemblies help to protect against heat, compression, friction, moisture, and other hazards. Coming in different shapes and sizes they are a perfect electrical protection solution.


Each electrical solution is used in different environments for different purposes. Wire harnesses provide a low-cost solution for keeping wires organised whereas cable assembly helps to keep the entire product safe in various environmental circumstances. If you are still unsure about which electrical solution you may require, we have you covered. When you work with the team at BJC  we’ll be ever-ready to explain any electrical jargon that may seem overwhelming. Get in touch today.