Custom Cables – The Story

I started CE Auto Electric Supply in 2011. From the moment I started the company, we’ve built custom cables of all kinds for projects of all kinds and for customers of all kinds, including multiple vehicle manufacturers. We build custom battery cables, winch cables, inverter cables, audio cables, etc. In the past, this process was lengthy with an interview required to get the specifics.

Today, that’s all changed!

Our Custom Cable Builder allows you to easily build cables in all of the popular configurations, see a full color photo of each cable, including your specifics and dimensions, and purchase them.

Let’s talk a bit about Custom Cables, shall we?

It’s our goal to build the very best cables that money can buy. It’s also our goal for you to be amazed at the quality and craftsmanship of the cables you receive from us. The only way that we can achieve that is to use the very best parts and material available to us, regardless of cost. We’re sticklers for quality. We use the parts we use for a reason.

It Begins with the Best Parts
All of our custom cables share the same philosophy – tinned copper terminals and eyelets attached to tinned, finely stranded Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) and insulated with adhesive lined heat shrink.

Battery Cable

The best cables begin with the best cable. We only sell finely stranded, tinned, Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) Battery Cable. From a raw goods perspective, this is the most expensive cable we can purchase. It’s manufactured to our specifications and it meets or exceeds SAE and AWG published specifications for automotive battery cable. Let me break down, in great detail, the specifics of our cable.

Finely Stranded

Finely stranded cable is just simpler to work with. Some folks believe that finely stranded cable can pass greater current than standard cable of the same size. This just isn’t true. Finely stranded cable is simply easier to work with and it can be routed in ways that standard cable cannot.

Tinned

Tinned cable is cable where each individual copper strand has been tinned during the manufacturing process. Why tinned cable? Simple: the tinning prevents corrosion and oxidation of the copper strands. Tinning adds about 7% to the manufacturing cost of our cable but it’s well worth it.

Oxygen Free Copper

Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) is simply copper cable which has the oxygen removed from the copper in the annealing process. Some believe that means that it performs better than standard battery cable. This also isn’t true. However, this is the current standard by which quality copper cables are produced and OFC readily distinguishes quality cable from inferior cable.

OFC is often compared to Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA). CCA is significantly less expensive; however, CCA has 30-40% more resistance per foot than OFC. When buying cables of the same size, OFC cable easily outperforms CCA due to its lower resistance. CCA resellers claim weight and cost advantages over copper but this is merely marketing talk. In addition, copper cable doesn’t expand and contract like aluminum cable does with high current and/or heat. (There is a reason why electricians have to be specially trained and certified to work on homes with aluminum wiring.) Finally, CCA can corrode and oxidize faster than standard copper cable. Taking all of these things into consideration, any discussion of cost savings of CCA versus OFC is a wash. We don’t sell CCA. We don’t endorse CCA. Plain and simple, CCA is a marketing tactic designed to deceive consumers who don’t know any better. Shame on those companies!

CE Auto Electric Supply only sells the BEST; consequently, we only offer tinned OFC cable. Tinned OFC cable gives us the performance and longevity that we expect, and it won’t degrade over time like plain copper or CCA cables will.

Non-Tinned Aged Copper Cable
This is what happens to non-tinned copper cable over time and its precisely why we don’t use it for our cables.

For full specifications and sizes offered, visit our Battery Cable page.

Eyelets, Battery Terminals, and Other Connectors

Next time you’re at your local hardware store, check out their selection of eyelets for large gauge cable. Do those inspire confidence? Do you think you could pass 300, 400, or 500 amperes through such an eyelet with minimal voltage drop? Notice also that hardware-store connectors have super-thin walls, are pressed from thin copper tubing, and in many cases are already turning black from exposure to oxygen.

We don’t use, endorse, or sell inferior connectors. And it doesn’t just stop there. Have a look at the battery terminal selection at your local auto parts store. Do those inspire confidence?

We only use pure copper parts which have been tinned. Do you see a pattern? In addition, we insist that these parts are made of the thickest stock we can find. That means that we source these parts from many different manufacturers as no one manufacturer offers the best choice for all components we offer. These parts are larger, heavier, heavier duty, and will by nature achieve better, lower resistance connections to whatever you may be bolting them to: studs, batteries, etc.

We do sell thin-wall, tin-plated copper eyelets, primarily for applications where the thickness of the flats on our MEGA Eyelets is just too much. Contact us directly for specifics.

Terminations

Super heavy duty parts require super heavy duty terminations and the appropriate tooling to achieve that. We use electric over hydraulic crimping tools which exert 6 tons of force during the crimping process. The crimps exceed SAE pull specs, are incredibly low in resistance, and are art-like. I don’t know about you, but I get excited about a perfect crimp that looks like it was done in a hydraulic press, so that’s just what we do.

No expense is spared here. I will invest in any tool we need, at any cost, to achieve art-like, perfect crimps. Period.

Crimp Example - Cut
The anatomy of a good crimp. We cut this 2/0 AWG MEGA Eyelet in half with the bandsaw after crimping it. Wow.

So, how do we know our terminations are really that good? Simple – because we’ve paid an independent laboratory to analyze them.

Heat Shrink

One of the biggest shortcomings of OEM cable assemblies is that few have the terminations dressed with heat shrink of any kind. Bean Counters, plain and simple! The net result is that the elements are allowed to enter the terminations.

Interestingly enough, most of the terminations we see on OEM cables are either tinned copper or lead, both impervious to the kinds of oxidation or corrosion plain copper parts are. However, the battery cable is plain copper. The combination of plain copper cable with no heat shrink over the termination is an invitation to corrosion and oxidation. The result is that the terminations break down from the inside out, often appearing to be okay from a quick visual inspection. As the terminations break down, resistance increases. As resistance increases, so does heat. Heat is a measure of lost work and negatively impacts performance.

We avoid this problem entirely by dressing all connector-to-cable terminations with adhesive-lined heat shrink. The adhesive melts while the heat shrink is shrunk. This keeps the elements out. We use our MEGA Heat Shrink on all terminations 4 AWG and larger and our standard Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink on 6 AWG and smaller terminations. The one exception to that is when we dress split loom or split braided tubing to the cable all the way to a termination. Then, we use a layer of standard Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink on the termination itself, lay the loom / tubing over the heat shrink, and then use a second layer of Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink to dress the loom to the cable as an assembly. This keeps the termination reasonable in size.

Here are examples of the finished product. Click on any pic and scroll through the hi-rez photos.

Galvanic Corrosion

Another problem which we see with OEM cables is galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion occurs from the chemical reaction between dissimilar metals. For example, both Nissan and Ford used thin wall steel battery terminals crimped to copper cables for years. Lead Battery Post + Steel Battery Terminal + Copper Battery Cable = Green / Blue gook and corroded battery terminals. Guaranteed. Add a little gassing from the battery from overcharging–quite common in modern vehicles–and you’ll spend a lot of time servicing the battery cables on these vehicles.

We avoid this problem to the best of our ability by using tinned copper connectors terminated to tinned copper cable. By joining similar parts, we just don’t see these types of problems.

The Net Result

By now, it should be clear that there is a method to our madness: Tinned Oxygen Free Copper Cable + Tinned Copper Connector + Reference Termination + Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink = Cables that will last a lifetime!