The Best Welding Cable Lead Reels
Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
We’ve scoured the market to find some of the best welding reels that money can buy. Most come with an air/water hose included, but their fantastic build quality and durability makes the reels suitable for use with various types of hoses and cables in your workshop.
1. Coxreels 1125WCL-6-C Large Capacity Hand Crank Welding Cable Reel for arc welding: holds up to 300′ of #2 cable
Coxreels is the brand name behind some seriously robust workshop equipment. This, their large welding cable reel, stands at over 18 inches tall and 21 inches wide. The drum size is impressively large: there’s enough room to wind a whopping 300 feet of #2 cable and 250 feet of #1. This is more than adequate for most hobby and professional workshops. It’s made from professional grade heavy duty steel, so it’s highly durable and can stand up to plenty of use. Furthermore, the 2 year warranty which comes as standard is even more evidence of the manufacturer’s confidence in the quality of their product.
The only downside to this welding cable reel is that it uses a hand crank rather than power to retract. As the buyer’s guide will explain, hand cranks do have their advantages, but when you’re winding hundreds of meters of cable by hand it can be pretty exhausting. A power cable reel would be ideal – especially for the price – but don’t let this detract from what is otherwise a sturdy, high quality piece of kit.
2. Reelcraft A5850OLP 1/2-Inch by 50-Feet Spring Driven Hose Reel for Air/Water
The build quality of this reel makes it feel expensive and high quality, so right away it’s money well spent. However, this impression of superior quality is magnified by the ultra smooth and quiet latch, which features a cam and disc for ease of use. The heavy gauge industrial steel full flow shaft and swivel have been designed to reduce the amount of stress on the reel, increasing its resilience and durability.
It’s possible to mount this reel in virtually any location – on the floor, walls and even the ceiling – thanks to the adjustable guide arm. You won’t need much space to store it, because it’s nice and compact, measuring just 16.5 x 7 x 17.5 inches in size. One good quality 1/2 inch hose is included (with a hose stop), but a variety of other hose lengths are available, which can all be adjusted for use with any water nozzle.
3. Goodyear 46741 1/2-Inch by 50-Feet Retractable Air Hose Reel
Goodyear is a name synonymous with the manufacture of top quality workshop equipment. That’s all too clear with this reel, which has been built entirely from heavy duty, professional grade steel, with an excellent quality finish. The dual arm which comes as standard makes it sturdy and stable when secured to ceilings, walls, the floor, or almost any other position. Adaptability is key as you can lock the hose to any length, thanks to the 12 position ratchet feature; this is fitted with a sleeve which resists bends, choking and damage to the hose, which could cause leaks. A Goodyear rubber air hose is included with the reel – it’s complete with brass end fittings, it has an outer cover which resists abrasion, its made extra strong by a spiral synthetic yarn, it exceeds safety specifications and meets RMA Class C oil resistance specifications. The quality is undeniable, but it doesn’t come at the expense of ease of use: simply pull the hose or cord to unlock its position, and it will automatically be pulled smoothly and neatly back onto the reel.
The ratchet locking system on this reel is really effective, as is the automatic rewind, but the hose or cord can become stuck at the corners if it is being pulled out off-centre or at an angle. However, it’s also worth noting that the rewind mechanism can struggle with heavy hoses and cords, so choose your cords and hoses wisely. If you do choose to buy this reel and stick with the hose already supplied, it often comes clogged with hard plastic at the point where the hose meets the inlet. This is just a result of the way in which it’s been manufactured – simply clean it out to begin using the hose at the correct pressure.
4. Reelcraft CA32112-L Hand Crank Hose Reel for 1/2-Inch Air/Water Hose
This reel is a great example of the high quality, brilliantly constructed reels which are typical of the Reelcraft brand name. This reel has no welded joints to weaken over time – instead, its sturdy construction has been finished with bolts, making it ideal for heavy duty applications. In addition, it’s strong and durable enough to hold up to the heavy weight that comes with extra long lengths of hose and cable. The bearings are permanently lubricated and there is a full flow swivel, making it easy and smooth to unwind the reel. This is an extremely well built reel which will last impressively long – making it great value for money – but one of the extra appealing features is that you can quickly and easily reverse the direction of the reel winding, so it will fit right in at any workshop.
The one downside of this reel is that it is prone to tipping over when unwinding the hose or cable, so ideally it should be mounted to a sturdy surface – or even a solid board – before use. Depending on where you choose to mount these welding cable reels, this could dramatically reduce the portability. Furthermore, no hose is included, but that allows you the opportunity to use your own choice of cable or hose.
5. ATD Tools 31170 Twin Welding Hose Reel
This reel is one of the best on the market when it comes to versatility and making adjustments. The roller outlet arm can be positioned at five different angles, while the ratchet has 8 different settings to lock your cord or hose at the perfect length for you. Despite being made entirely from sturdy, heavy duty steel, the reel can be fastened almost anywhere, including the floor, walls, the ceiling, workbenches, vehicles and more.
Not only is this reel supplied with one hose: it actually comes with two! These measure 1/4 inch and are 50 feet long, and they’re made in different colors to distinguish between use with oxygen or acetylene. They’re finished with fixtures made from solid brass, as well as double O-ring seals to prevent any and all leakage. This is an added bonus if you are looking to purchase hoses for your workshop in addition to a high quality rig.
6. Cyclone Pneumatic CP3684 1/4″ x 50′ Dual-Hose Twin Welding Welders Reel Tool
Right away it’s clear that this reel is a sturdy, solidly made, quality piece of kit. Constructed from durable steel and featuring both a 1/4 inch plate and a strong 1 inch center shaft, it’s tough enough to withstand considerable heavy duty use in the workshop. It features a full flow spool and swivel made from solid brass, giving fantastic resilience against wear and tear. In addition, the locking mechanism, roller guides and automatic rewind features are all standard features which make storing welding cables and hoses smooth and easy. A great buy that offers good value for money, this reel comes supplied with one 50 foot long hose, featuring double O-ring seals to prevent leaks.
However, as this is a slightly cheaper model than any of our other picks, the build quality isn’t quite as good as some other models. This is evident in the hose, which might begin to crack near the end after a fairly significant amount of use, as there are no protective sleeves. Furthermore, the only protection which covers your parts and equipment is a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, rather than a 2 year warranty as with many more expensive models.
The main purpose of welding cable reels is to store away long wires safely, eliminating trip hazards. This will make your workshop a safe place, as well as reducing wear and tear, ensuring that your equipment will last for as long as possible.
Welding lead reels are essentially big cylindrical spools, around which the cable coils. Most are fitted with stands or frames, so that they stay in one position without rolling around across the floor. Before looking at which reel to buy, make sure you know exactly what size wire is fitted to your equipment, otherwise you could end up buying a reel that’s too small.
Manual vs Power
The first thing to look at when comparing welding reels is whether they’re manual or powered by electricity. Manual reels are much cheaper than their electrical counterparts, but they take more time and physical effort to wind the cables. Power reels, on the other hand, make life a lot easier by winding cables very quickly, although they are more expensive. There’s also the added factor that power reels need to have access to a power source, so manual reels are much more portable.
Power reels are really useful in busy professional workshops where there’s a lot on the go at any one time, and time is of the essence. For small workshops or those creating hobby and beginners’ projects, a manual reel is more than sufficient.
The decision over whether to buy a manual welding reel or a powered one is not necessarily a deal-breaker; both are effective ways of storing cable which will make your workshop a safe, neat place. Many reels come with a locking mechanism to keep your cable at the desired length, as well as an automatic retract function to wind the cable back up, so look for these even if you can’t justify the extra price for a power reel.
Welding lead reels come in various different materials: usually plastic or steel, although occasionally you might find one made from wood. It’s a good idea to steer clear of wood, as it acts as a potential fire hazard in the hot, dangerous environment of a welder’s workshop. In general, the tougher and heaver the material, the more expensive it is, so steel reels are significantly more costly than those made of plastic.
Welding cables can be quite heavy – especially very long cables – so you’ll probably find that plastic reels are too flimsy. If that’s the case, you might want to consider investing in a sturdy steel reel which won’t buckle, break or need replacing.
Whichever material you choose, think about the location where you’ll be using and storing your welding reel. While certain materials can be kept either indoors or outdoors, some won’t stand up to the elements so won’t be suitable for outdoor use.
Overall, welding cable reels are fairly simple pieces of equipment, but don’t leave them as afterthoughts as choosing the right one can have a significant positive impact on your productivity and working environment.
When it comes to deciding on the material, whether to go for a manual or a power reel, or whether to choose one which is supplied with or without a hose, often budget will be the deciding factor. However, welding usually warrants making good investments, and we firmly believe that all five of our top picks represent fantastic value for money.