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Howdy.
Can anyone tell me what size wire is best for my code 332 layout? Does length of track determine how large the wire should be?
Thanks.
 

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I used the low voltage outdoor wire for lights. Worked great and no need for plastic pipe. I think it comes in 14 and 12 gauge.
 

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The distance from your power supply and the current draw determines the proper wire gauge. In general, the bigger, the better. Our HO club used 10 gauge wire for track feeders. You might consider using at least 12 gauge wire.
 

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10 gauge for HO??? Are you running 50 locos at a time?
Most of your household wiring is 12 gauge for 120volt 15 amp circuits. Some of that is pretty long runs from the circuit box. Any larger gauge is reserved for large appliances.
I use 16 ga. low voltage landscape light wire for short feeders (less than about 30 feet) and 14 gauge for longer runs. Some use 12 ga. but its over kill in my opinion.

-Brian
 

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On our HO layout, the maximum difference in voltage drop from one end of the layout to the other is 1/2 volt at full current. The layout is 30' x 50' and the throttles can put out 5 amps. We have run as many as 14 locomotives on one train.
 

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It is better to run 2 pairs or more of wire (feeders) from the power pack to the rails. This will give the least amount of power losses if using rail clamps and conductive grease.

A pair of 14 guage wires are much better than a single 12 guage and is close to using a 10 guage wire.

Outdoor low voltage wiring has one side ribbed and the other smooth so you can hook it up properly and is very flexible.
 

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Seems to me that #14 works quite well unless you have grades and multiple engine consists. I ran the feeders right along with the track in a loop and tapped in every 15 or 20 feet or so, excpet on the downgrade (I run counterclockwise only) and it works fine. The trolley wire is #22 NS and it only needs to be fed every 10 feet or so. We're not talking about all that much current draw in most cases.
 

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Monsterhunter: (by the way, what's your real name?)

You have not mentioned:

type of track (brass, SS, aluminum, NS)
type of joiners (stock, rail clamps, etd.)
type and number of locos you will use eventually
length of trains
grades
whether you will run analog power, or some type of control that uses a constant track power.

All of these items will impact your choice.

For example, I run:
SS rail
Split jaw SS rail clamps
Lots of locos MU'd / doubleheaded
up to 3.4% grade
DCC (constant track power)
long trains (20-40 cars)

with all that, I needed 10 gauge feeders, and feed points every 20-30 feet to minimize voltage drop (I can get pretty close to 10 amps on a single train).

Regards, Greg
 

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Being in the construction business, I have access to unwanted damaged extension cords. Since the stranded wire used to manufacture them is finer than stranded house wire, it is more flexible. And they are usually UV resistant. It's

an inexpensive source of wire.
 

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I've had a somewhat negative experience with stranded wire outdoors.

I have to preface this with the following, I run DCC, the track power is always on, and the track gets "watered" pretty much daily.

Stranded wire, being thinner than solid, will corrode more easily, I've had some stranded #10 wire just dissolve where it was exposed to the elements. Very fine wire would make it dissolve more quickly.

I recommend solid wire where it is exposed, then connect to stranded feeder when "water tight".

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By Greg Elmassian on 05/27/2008 9:22 PM
I've had a somewhat negative experience with stranded wire outdoors.

I have to preface this with the following, I run DCC, the track power is always on, and the track gets "watered" pretty much daily.

Stranded wire, being thinner than solid, will corrode more easily, I've had some stranded #10 wire just dissolve where it was exposed to the elements. Very fine wire would make it dissolve more quickly.

I recommend solid wire where it is exposed, then connect to stranded feeder when "water tight".

Regards, Greg




I would guess that would depend on the type of layout you have. If you have a "garden layout" I would stick with the stranded wire. I have yet to see any manufacturer of low voltage outdoor landscape lighting recommend or sell a solid wire.

-Brian
 

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FYI, one of the functions of my Handy Converter program helps you determine the best wire size for your layout. It lets you enter the length of your wiring run and load current (amps), and tells you what the voltage drop would be.

A video demo of this function can be seen at Wiring Demo
 

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Brian, I don't think there is such a thing as solid stranded wire. I mentioned solid wire.

Landscape wire is stranded to allow it to be buried easily and conform to the ground, etc. Also the connectors most used rely in piercing the insulation to contact the wire, which only work on stranded wire, or there are silicon-filled wire nuts, and twisting large gauge solid wire would take more effort.

But, I'm concentrating on just exposed wire where you connect it to the rails. I use a solid piece, crimped in a ring terminal, then connect it to the stranded wire and waterprooof the connection.

If I have stranded wire in the open, water gets into it (Between the strands) and works its way inside, eventually causing corrosion and wire breakage.

Regards, Greg
 

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All the discussion of type, gauge, etc., is relevant and informative. However, for me, the criteria of availability, cost, adequate gauge, and durability outside were my concerns. I chose to use 12g. Malibu outdoor lighting wire for both the lights and the track feeder web. It is reasonably priced, easily available at Walmart, Ace, and other locations, 12g. should handle any load on the layout, and it is made to stay outside on/in the ground.

JimC.
 

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Actually my friend, 12 gauge will not handle the load on my layout, I often run over 5 amps on a train, and will be topping 7-8 soon. My layout runs multiple locos, so is probably not typical.

Also, I use stranded 10 gauge, it was easy to feed through conduit, and cheaper per foot than malibu, even 12 gauge, though 10 gauge outdoor lighting wire is available. I will be changing to solid, because of the easier corrosion on stranded wire above ground.

The 10 gauge wire is very cheap, since it's what they wire houses with.

So, it is very reasonably priced, very easily available, and it does handle ANY load I have.

So, since there has been no reply to all the questions I posed above, it's really impossible to tell how big is big enough for the originator of the thread.

Overkill? For some, maybe, for me, necessary.

Regards, Greg
 

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Greg, I beg to differ with you on the 10 gauge wire. Houses usually are wired with 14 gauge for 15 amp circuits and 12 gauge for twenty amp

circuits. 10 gauge might be used in some instances for certain appliances etc, but never wholsale throughout the house. I take it you are talking

about common electrical circuits.

Also, 12 gauge wire is good for up to twenty amps, so your 7-8 amps should more than flow freely though it.
 

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Sorry Dan, I meant to say I used the type of wire that can be used in a house, i.e. the thinner insulation that you will find on 14-10 gauge.

The point I was trying to make is you can use the thinner insulation type of wire in conduit, and get more wire in the conduit / have easier "pulls".

(you would find this wire on some 220 circuits)

In terms of amps, I will differ with you: it's not the max amp rating, it's the loss in the wire you want to think about.

So, if you are just running a few amps and a few feet, then it's no big deal.

Now run 50-100 feet AND close to 10 amps, and your 12 gauge will have too much voltage loss.

So, length and current need to be considered, the loss in wire is controlled by these factors.


Regards, Greg

(note the original poster still has not responded to any questions of how long, how many locos, etc. so we have no idea what the current requirements are, so it is impossible to recommend any gauge wire now)
 

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True. The wire length will determine how much of a load you can place on it.

As for stranded wire; I was once told by the electrician on the job, that stranded wire has less resistance than solid. The theory was that

electrons flow on the surface of each conductor. Since stranded wire has more surface area than solid wire, there would be less resistance. Others

have argued the point.

What's your opinion on this theory?
 

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Posted By Madman on 06/10/2008 7:33 PM
I was once told by the electrician on the job, that stranded wire has less resistance than solid.

From the research I did when I put a wire size calculator in the Handy Converter program, the opposite may be true. One source that I used gave this example: "... a 12 AWG solid copper wire has a resistance of about 5.21 ohm/km compared to 5.32 ohm/km for a 12 AWG stranded wire."

Note that this is only a 2% difference, and from a practical standpoint is probably lost somewhere within all of the other variables in wiring a layout, e.g., in free air, in conduit, buried, type of insulation...
 
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