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The Answer to Spark Plug Wires ( Ignition Wires )

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David15151

Proven Member
905
7
Aug 31, 2004
Augusta, Georgia
This is to help all those looking to upgrade their ignition wires and are not sure what brand they would like to buy.

The following is the resistance measured in ohms/ft by each major ignition wire distributer.

(low = good, high = bad)

MSD Ignition 8.5mm Super Conductor (40-50 ohms/ft)
Accel Thundersport (150 ohms/ft)
Taylor 8mm Spiro Pro (350 ohm/ft)
Aurora ignition wire set (400 ohms/ft)
Vitek Performance Cables (their web site does not mention resistance, but John Monnin measured them at about 800 ohms/ft; the label under Vitek's braiding says "Magstar Gold 8mm High Performance S-4 Stainless Steel Mag Wire" - thanks John!; Magstar wires are manufactured by Wiretec)
Wiretec Magstar Gold (800 ohms/ft as measured by John Monnin)
NGK Resistor Spark Plug Wire Set (2600 ohms/ft)
Mitsubishi factory wire sets (3000++ ohms/ft)
Car Quest brand wire sets (3000++ ohms/ft - Thanks to Bret for measuring these wires.)
Magnecor KV85 (6000++ ohms/ft)
 

44pirate

Proven Member
930
7
Jun 23, 2002
CAPE CORAL, Florida
So what your saying here is, these are what the manufacturers claim. Have you actually measured them yourself. How about we all go and measure what our wires are.
There was a thread about this. From what I remember, the #'s I see do not look like what the actual's came out to be.
 

DSMJim

Proven Member
3,329
39
Jul 24, 2002
I would suggest some more research is done before making a post like this. Basically what your doing is looking at manufacturers claims and taking them as the law and judging all spark plug wires based on Media hype. There is a lot more to a wire than OHM's / foot.

Though this is from one manufacturers website, this information has been regarded as being truthful and accurate for many years now.

Magnacore's Website said:
"LOW-RESISTANCE" SPIRAL WIRES
By far the most popular conductor used in ignition wires destined for race and performance street engines are spiral conductors (a.k.a. mag, pro, super, spiral, monel, heli, energy, ferro, twin core etc.). Spiral conductors are constructed by winding fine wire around a core. Almost all manufacturers use constructions which reduce production costs in an endeavor to offer ignition component marketers and mass-merchandisers cheaper prices than those of their competitors.

In the USA in particular, most marketers of performance parts selling their products through mass-merchandisers and speed shops include a variety of very effective high-output ignition systems together with a branded not-so-effective ignition wire line using a spiral conductor. Most perpetually try to out-do their competitors by offering spiral conductor ignition wires with the lowest electrical resistance. Some publish results which show their wires are superior to a competitor's wires which use identical cable (on which another brand name is printed). The published "low" resistance (per foot) is measured with a test ohmmeter's 1 volt direct current (DC) passing through the entire length of the fine wire used for the spiral conductor.

"Low-resistance" conductors are an easy sell, as most people associate all ignition wire conductors with original equipment and replacement ignition wire carbon conductors (which progressively fail as a result of microscopic carbon granules burning away and thus reducing the spark energy to the spark plugs) and with solid wire zero-resistance conductors that were used by racers with no need for suppression. Consumers are easily led into believing that if a spiral conductor's resistance is almost zero, its performance must be similar to that of a solid metal conductor all race cars once used. HOWEVER, NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

What is not generally understood (or is ignored) is that as a result of the laws of electricity, the potential 45,000 plus volts (with alternating current characteristics) from the ignition coil (a pulse type transformer) does not flow through the entire the length of fine wire used for a spiral conductor like the 1 volt DC voltage from a test ohmmeter, but flows in a magnetic field surrounding the outermost surface of the spiral windings (skin effect). The same skin effect applies equally to the same pulsating flow of current passing through carbon and solid metal conductors.

A spiral conductor with a low electrical resistance measured by an ohmmeter indicates, in reality, nothing other than less of the expensive fine wire is used for the conductor windings — a construction which cannot achieve a clean and efficient current flow through the magnetic field surrounding the windings, resulting in poor suppression for RFI and EMI.

Of course, ignition wire manufacturers save a considerable amount in manufacturing costs by using less fine wire, less exotic winding machinery and less expertise to make low-resistance spiral conductors. As an incentive, they find a lucrative market amongst performance parts marketers who advertise their branded ignition wires as having "low-resistance" conductors, despite the fact that such "low-resistance" contributes nothing to make spiral ignition wires perform better, and RFI and EMI suppression is compromised.

In recent years, most ignition wire manufacturers, to temporarily improve their spiral conductor's suppression, have resorted to coating excessively spaced spiral windings, most of which are crudely wound around strands of fiberglass or Kevlar, with a heavy layer of high-resistance carbon impregnated conductive latex or silicone compound. This type of construction hides the conductive coating's high resistance when the overall conductor is measured with a test ohmmeter, which only measures the lower resistance of the sparse spirally wound wire (the path of least resistance) under the conductive coating and ignores the high resistance of the outermost conductive coating in which the spark energy actually travels. The conductive coating is rarely shown or mentioned in advertisement illustrations.

The suppression achieved by this practice of coating the windings is only temporary, as the spark current is forced to travel through the outermost high-resistance conductive coating in the same manner the spark current travels through the outermost high-resistance conductive coating of a carbon conductor used in most original equipment and stock replacement wires.

In effect, (when new) a coated "low-resistance" spiral conductor's true performance is identical to that of a high-resistance carbon conductor.

Unfortunately, and particularly with the use of high-output ignitions, the outermost high-resistance conductive coating over spiral windings acting as the conductor will fail from burn out in the same manner as carbon conductors, and although in most cases, the spiral conductor will not cease to conduct like a high-resistance carbon conductor, any RFI or EMI suppression will be lost as a consequence of the coating burning out. The worst interference will come from the so-called "super conductors" that are wound with copper (alloy) wire.

However, despite the shortcomings of "low-resistance" spiral conductor ignition wires, these wires work satisfactorily on older production vehicles and race vehicles that do not rely on electronic engine management systems, or use on-board electronics effected by EMI — although with the lowest-resistance conductor wires, don't expect much RFI suppression on the AM band in poor reception areas.

Some European and Japanese original equipment and replacement ignition wires including Bougicord and NGK do have spiral conductors that provide good suppression — usually none of these wires are promoted as having low- resistance conductors — however, none are ideal for competition use, as their conductors and pin-type terminations are fragile and are known to rarely last as long as good carbon conductor ignition wires.

To be effective in carrying the full output from the ignition system and suppressing RFI and EMI in particular, spiral conductors need windings that are microscopically close to one another and precisely spaced and free from conductive coatings. To be more effective, the windings need to be wound over a core of magnetic material — a method too costly for wires sold through mass-merchandisers and most speed shops who purchase only the cheapest (to them) and most heavily promoted products.

http://www.magnecor.com/magnecor1/main.htm
 

AirborneShark

Probationary Member
7
2
May 4, 2009
Pompano Beach, Florida
Spark plug wires carry the high output spark from the coil pack to the spark plug, and are basically speaking a simple electrical connector. So, the higher quality connector, wiring, and shielding will provide more of your spark from the coilpack, to your spark plug.

One easy way to test a spark plugs conductivity is to test the wire with a OHM meter. Testing a spark plug wire's ohm resistance will display how much resistance there is to the current that passes through the wire.

The lower the number, the lower the resistance, which means that more current will reach the spark plug. The lower the resistance, the better quality conductor materials are used in making the spark plug wires.

Now, onto testing the wires. We will display the wires from top to bottom from lowest resistance to highest resistance. Remember, the lower the number, the better the wire set is. You should be buying the lowest resistance wire set possible.



Granatelli wires (2 OHMs)
Here we have the Granatelli wires. These wires were the lowest wire OHM resistance wire we have ever tested, at 2 ohms of resistance. Granatelli uses a stainless steel core, wrapped in silver plated copper wiring. This is the highest quality wire we have ever carried, and the wire that we strongly recommend.



MSD wires (33 OHMs)
In second place, we have the MSD wire set. Compared to the Granatelli wires in first place, these wires are red in color, and come in at 33 ohms of resistance to the Granatelli wires's 2 OHMs of resistance. The MSD wires are still good quality though. Msd states on their boxes that they use a copper alloy conductor for their wires.



ACCEL wires 124 OHMs
In third place, we have Accel wires. These use a copper/alloy wire core, and are has a 8mm silicone jacket. These wires had a cheaper feel, and look compared to the other wires, but still had a great, low resistance.



Mopar wires 390 OHMs
Fourth place belongs to the Mopar Performance spark plug wires. We measured these wires to have 390 OHMS of resistance which is quite high, but still acceptable.



Magnecor wires 1548 OHMs
Fifth place place belongs to the Magnecor wires. Magnecor wires had the highest resistance out of all of the wires we tested, coming in at 1548 OHMS of resistance. (In Magnecor's defense, they claim that low OHM resistance wires are not a measure of quality, you can read more about it on their website here: Magnecor Race Wires

Check out what Magnecor says on the link, very interesting. Chime in.
 

luv2rallye

DSM Wiseman
7,887
757
Jun 7, 2003
Minneapolis, Minnesota
OK lets put this one to bed once and for all.
DON'T BE MISLED INTO THINKING LOWER RESISTANCE WIRES ARE BETTER! I'm an electronic engineer and I'm telling you "E/I=R math" (not I/E=R btw) applies to steady state circuits - not to a pulse.

A pulse has infinite frequencies of decreasing magnitude and in order to get the energy transferred, a fourier analysis and integration (of the calculus type) of the cable's properties would have to be done, which has different impedance (think resistance) for every frequency. This is because for all these frequencies, the cable is more of a radio transmission line than a simple wire. DSMJim HAS THE CORRECT ANSWER which as you can see, is way more complicated than simple ohms/foot. Rob10 is also correct that some DC resistance is deliberately put there so you can listen to the radio. 45000 volts has no problem overcoming this DC resistance. But the energy transferred to the plug is described correctly by DSMJim, NOT BY OHMS/FOOT!!!

So lets stop having these "ohms/foot is better with measured values" posts! DC ohms/foot is near meaningless on a transmission line (which is what a spark plug cable really is) compared to the impedance generated at each frequency, along with "skin effect" and all the other things described by DSMJim.
(Good work btw DSMJim on finding that link).
 
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