Wire Quality/Supplier

garbengarben Long Island, NY

Hello, I’m shopping around for hook-up wire for my digital model railroad layout and there seems to be a big discrepancy in pricing among different suppliers. I can get a roll of 20 awg tinned copper for $12 for 100' from one reputable supplier and another, very large well know supplier, I can only find it for over $50 for 100'. 

Not really sure what I should be looking at spec wise?

It's a big discrepancy and I'm concerned about buying something too cheap and not any good, or expensive and being over kill.

Any thought welcomed.

Thank you.


  • el Gato Gordoel Gato Gordo Colorado Spring

    There is not a great deal of difference in quality of the wire, though insulation properties may differ depending on whether it is insulated with thermoplastic or nylon.  At OUR voltages, however, this is insignificant. 

    Since you mention #20 awg wire, I imagine that you are using these in short lengths to drop from the track to your heavier (#16) buss wire.  Go ahead, buy the cheap stuff.

    As for myself, I lucked out and found about 200' of good telephone (4 conductor) wire in the dumpster when I was making a recycling run.  somehow it jumped into the back of my truck.  Works great!

    40+ years as an electrician - IBEW

    el Gato Gordo2016-11-27 13:29:48
  • garbengarben Long Island, NY

    Thanks! Appreciate the input. I would imagine the same hold true for the my buss wire, #16?

  • el Gato Gordoel Gato Gordo Colorado Spring

    True.  Just be sure to use two different colors, say red and black, for both the buss wire and the feeders.  Makes it easier to keep track of polarity so you don't short it out.  I always use black on the rail toward the perimeter (except on the zig-zag of a branch line) and red on the inside rail.

    Good luck!  Cheers!
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