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November 22, 2019

Wire Harness vs. Cable Assembly: Understanding Their Differences

Electrical wirings are the veins and hidden integral part of multiple industries. These wirings are essential because they support such enterprises to keep on progressing. A household also needs wires or cables to get a supply of electricity to make use of appliances and other electronic devices. Thus, it makes people’s lives easy. It is evident that they perform a vital function regardless of their different sizes and shapes.

People who require wiring solution seeks help from wire harness suppliers and other professionals that is within the field of expertise. It will be beneficial to know what types of wire to purchase. One may come across a technician referring to a wire harness as a cable assembly and vice versa. While both have similarities, there are distinct differences between the two. This article is here to illustrate the differences.

Understanding the Real Deal

Both wire harnesses and cable assemblies provide power in many electrical devices. They have common attributes and uses, the reason why these two terms are often interchangeably used. However, as aforementioned, they have differences. And it is crucial to indicate first the difference between “wire” and “cable” since both of these terms are interchangeably used as well.

Basically, a wire is a strand of material that conducts electricity, such as copper or aluminum. Unlike a cable that is a composition of two or more wires that run together. These wires are often braided or bonded together; that is why cables look like a bunch of intertwined wires.

Now, we can further define a wire harness as merely a grouping of individual sheathed wires or distinct cables wrapped separately in a dedicated sheath. Whereas a cable assembly features a group of wires or cables protected by an insulating cover. This cover can be from various materials like shrink-wrapped thermoplastic, vinyl, or thermoplastic rubber. The individually covered wires or cable functions separately, and at their ends, each feeds through one coupler or connector.

Physical Features

The basic difference between a wire harness and a cable assembly is their physical attributes and role. A wire harness provides a cover that encases single cables, usually from the same material used in a cable assembly. One can see and pull out an individual cable from a wire harness. Whereas a cable assembly has multiple wires but bundled together by a single outer sleeve. For that, it appears as one unit, as a single thick wire.

Purpose of Application

  •      Application of Wire Harness

The primary purpose of a wire harness is to group various cables for better connectivity. This harness helps in keeping electrical systems organized by preventing individual cables running all over the place.

A wire harness has a limited load capacity depending on the number and sizes of bundled cables. It is good to use for indoor applications since they are not durable to withstand environmental threats such as extreme heat, dust, friction, and moisture.

Therefore, it has a protected external casing for securing the cables. For instance, the motor of a washing machine has a single wire harness. The wire harness has a protected case to protect it from any harmful substance that can cause to short circuit.

  •      Application of Cable Assembly

A cable assembly has a force-resistant coating, the reason why it is perfect for outdoor usage. The exterior sleeve that covers the wire bundle has a special protective quality that a wire harness cannot offer. With a designed rubber, vinyl, or thermoplastic options for the covering, a cable assembly can handle many environmental stresses.

Subsequently, if the application needed has to undergo heat exposure, moisture, dust, friction, or chemicals, then it is wise to go with a specialized assembly to protect the product. Cable assemblies’ utilization benefits a variety of industries such as aerospace, military, oilfield, healthcare, and electronics.

Other Significant Advantages

  •      Advantage of Wire Harness

Wire harnesses are usually less expensive compared to cable assemblies. Although cost-friendly, it still depends on the type, number, and the quality of cables, wires, or connectors used in the production.

  •      Advantage of Cable Assembly

Cable assemblies are more accessible to thread around small spaces since the bundled smaller wires are within one large sheath. If the used wirings have done conjunction activity with some pre-fab parts, then the assemblies are easier to use and install without spoiling the internal components.


The confusion on wire harness and cable assembly is comprehensible due to professionals use the terms interchangeably. Moreover, wiring applications have similar fundamental functions. Nevertheless, both products are very distinct from one another, from their physical features, purpose, impact to the industry, and individual share of advantages. Hence, the experts must practice providing the right information. This action can be done by using the correct terms to help potential clients in getting the products that they need.

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