Cable assembly, wire harness and wiring loom are common terms in the wire and cable industry. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, quite different and have distinct purposes and applications.

Whilst they are all used to describe a collection of cables or wires grouped together into a single unit, they do however, differ in their construction, performance, and the environment to which they are best suited.

It is helpful to start by defining wires and cables. Whilst they both conduct electricity, a wire is a strand of conductive metal, like copper or aluminium, which can be wrapped in a protective sheath. In comparison, a cable contains multiple wires wrapped in a protective jacket.

Here is a quick guide to the subtle and often overlooked differences between wire harnesses, cable assemblies and wiring looms.

Wire Harnesses are best suited to sealed or indoor environments

wire harnesses gathered together.

Wire harnesses are a way of organising electrical systems to avoid having separate wires running everywhere. In its simplest form, a wire harness is a grouping of wires fitted with terminals or connector housings at the ends. The primary purpose of a wire harness is to group different cables together for easier connectivity.

In a wire harness, you can see each different cable or wire within the group. It allows for the individual components to be easily broken out and run in a different direction. Wire harnesses are sometimes sheathed in a harness material like PVC, polyurethane, silicone, thermoplastic elastomer, vinyl, polyethylene or similar. This cover is primarily to group them as a unit for easy identification, to make the item safer and to enhance durability.

These harnesses can be customised to best suit their environment and application. Additional custom features often include lacing, insulation materials, custom colours, heat shrink coatings, custom labelling, barcoding, individual tagging, independent circuit ids, specialised fillers and custom shielding.

In general, a wire harness is not as durable as a cable assembly, so they are best suited to sealed or indoor environments. They are not designed to be exposed to extreme temperatures, moisture or high levels of dust. These harnesses are often found in automobiles, household appliances, telecommunications and even aerospace projects.

Cable Assemblies are known for their durability

cable assemblies with protective cover.

Cable assemblies are a group of wires or cables bound into a single strand by a protective cover. They look and act like one thick cable, but inside the outer coating, there are several different wires, all functioning separately. Cable assemblies serve a similar function to wire harnesses, including keeping wires organised, but they are designed for very different environments.

Cable assemblies are known for their durability. The rubber, vinyl or thermoplastic coatings can handle all kinds of environmental stresses, including temperature, moisture, dust, vibrations, friction, or chemicals. These can also be routed into or through tight spaces safely without the risk of being easily damaged.

Cable assemblies come in all shapes and sizes. A custom cable assembly can be tailored to suit its specific application through the choice of coating materials, overmolding, stranding size options, conductor sizes and colours, filler material options and various insulation materials.

Wiring Looms simplify product assembly by using a single system

wiring looms being planned out.

Wiring looms can be considered an evolution of cable assemblies and wire harnesses. They are complete wiring systems that make harnesses into a single system.

A wiring loom may look complicated with many wires, terminations, connectors and other components. Wiring looms can be simple, using just a few wires, through to complex masses of wires and cables like what you would find in a modern aircraft.

For product manufacturers, wiring looms are a way of simplifying assembly by using a single system rather than connecting each assembly into an electrical device.

Wiring looms are used in a variety of industries that are dependent on high-performance products, including aerospace, defence, food production, medical technology, telecommunications, and gaming.

Quality custom assembly and manufacturing in Australia

At Wiring Solutions, we are proud to offer cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and wiring looms that meet the highest quality standards. We create custom wiring solutions that overcome environmental challenges, meet strict industry standards, and provide excellent performance. In addition, these can all be tailored to your branding, identification, or style requirements right here in Australia. Get in touch with us to discuss your assembly, harness, or loom options and to see how we can add value to your project or product.

If you need cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and wiring looms that meet the highest quality standards, get in touch with us by calling (08) 8234 2670, use our Contact page, or emailing