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Layout and electrical wire details

You would have thought that electrical wire is electrical wire. How wrong you would be.

Railwayscenics currently supply one of the largest range of electrical wires specifically for railway modellers and hobbyists. We supply a wide range of electrical cables in various colours, sizes, and lengths which can be found by going to our layout wire page

All cable sizes are available in black, blue, brown, green, grey, orange, pink, red, purple, white, and yellow, apart from the tri rated wires which are currently only available in black, blue, brown, grey, orange and red.

We provide wire in measured lengths of 2m, 5m, and 10m, as well as full 100m reels, all available for individual purchase through our online shop. While we aim to deliver measured lengths of layout wire as one continuous piece whenever possible, this may not always be feasible. Please note that there is a tolerance of plus or minus 3% on hand-measured lengths.

If you need larger quantities than what is listed on our website, feel free to reach out to us either by phone or by using the contact form, and we will be happy to offer you a competitive price.

Our very fine wires are sold by the metre and are available in black, blue, brown, green, grey, orange, red, purple, white, and yellow. Where possible wires will be sent in one continuous length where multiple lengths are orders together.

Wire sizes

Understanding our electrical wire sizes can be confusing for some. Lets clarify what each part of the description means.

Strands and Diameter: The first number, 7 in 7/0.2mm tells you how many individual strands make up the wire. Think of it as having multiple tiny wires all twisted and bundled together. Each strand has a specific diameter, mentioned by the second number, 0.2mm in this case. So, a 7/0.2mm wire has 7 strands, each 0.2mm diameter.

Area Matters: Now, the mm sq part indicates the total area occupied by the copper inside the outer insulation, calculated across all its strands. This millimetre square measurement helps compare the different sizes of different wire types.

The AWG Connection: We also include an approximate AWG value e.g., 22 AWG for reference. This American Wire Gauge system is another way to categorize wire sizes, commonly used in the US but not so popular in the UK. Think of it as a different language for the same wire thickness. What is a bit confusing to some is that smaller sizes of wires have a higher AWG number.

Try to avoid using solid cored wires on your layout as they will break if bent and flexed too many times. Solid cored wire can be used where the wire needs to hold its shape, and also for soldered DCC bus dropper wires as long as the bus wire is fully supported along its length.

Wire insulation

The wires that we sell come with three main types of outer insulation. They are:

PVC: The advantage of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) wire is that it is adequate for most situations and the ends are easy to strip to make connections. However, it can melt, or in severe cases, it can burn when it becomes hot. Also when it is cold, the PVC becomes brittle and can crack if bent.

PTFE: PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) wire is far more expensive than PVC coated wire. The PTFE insulation is more robust and can be used over a much wider range of temperatures. However, it is much more expensive and it is also much more difficult to strip to expose the bare copper wire for making connections or soldering.

ETFE: The ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) insulation is less flexible than PTFE insulation, but has better rubbing and abrasion properties, and can be used over a much wider range of temperatures than PVC. It is more expensive than some other insulation materials but is easy to strip from wires as it tends not to stretch.

MPPE: The MPPE (Modified Polyphenylene Ether) is a thermoplastic material type of insulation that allows a thinner insulation material to be used, whilst giving great protection to the wire inside. It is also environmentally friendly as it can be 100% recycled.

Wire standards

All of our wire products are manufactured to different worldwide standards. Each of the wire listings will mention the correct wire standard that the wire meets. Here is a brief description of each of the standards met by our wire products.

BRITISH STANDARDS You will see reference to some of our wires meeting BS BS4808. This wire also meets the requirements of DEF STAN 61-12 Part 6 and is flame resistant to UL1581 VW-1and IEC60332-1. The wires are designed for internal cabling of electrical and electronic equipment and are widely used in model railways as general wire. It is a flexible cable with a hard wearing PVC protective sheath and usually has tinned copper conductors. It is available in a wide range of plain and multi colour outer making it ideal for easy colour coding of wiring.

DEF STANDARD Lots of our cables are designed to meet the requirements of DEF STAN 61-12 Part 6. The standard covers many outer materials ideally suited to high temperature applications and they are all resistant to oils and chemicals.

UL STANDARD UL Standard cables have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) testing classification. They consist of a wide range of wires which have been independently tested to meet the specifications for use in many applications including general purpose wiring circuits, control circuits and internal appliance wiring. UL Standard cables have single stranded cores, are supplied in various single colour insulations.

TRI-RATED The triple rating of BS6231 (UK), CSA TEW (Canada) and UL style 1015, 1028, or 1283 (America) makes tri-rated wires and cables acceptable across many markets and countries. Tri-Rated is a flexible, single stranded cable with a high temperature rating and flame retardant PVC sheath. Various colours are available as recognised under the European Harmonised designation codes.

There are many other standards for wires, but these are the main ones that we stock.

What is the difference between a single core wire and stranded wire?

Solid Core: Solid core wire has one thick strand making it less flexible It is harder to work with and if kinked damage can occur to the inner core. It is great for fixed installations because it is strong and can carry more current. It is less prone to internal corrosion and offers less electrical resistance. But be careful, bending it too much can snap it!

Stranded: Stranded wire has many thin strands twisted together. It is easier to use as it is more flexible and is harder to kink making it perfect for tight spaces or situations where bending is needed. However, each strand carries less current, so thicker stranded wire might be needed for high-power applications.

So, which to choose? Solid Core is best used for fixed installations and parts that do not move much. It is stronger and carries more power where stranded wires can be easier to work with where bending is needed. It is flexible and forgiving when supported well.

It is possible to use both types in model railway wiring and you should always choose what you believe to be the best type of wire for the job.

Why use a Stranded Wire?

We always recommend that, where possible, you should use a stranded wire. Stranded electrical wire is not necessarily better than solid core wire, but it does have some distinct advantages that make it a better choice for certain applications. A stranded wire carries a similar maximum current to a similar size solid wire, but the stranded wire is far more flexible and is more tolerant to bending. This flexibility makes it easier to work with. A large solid core wire also cannot be used with most crimp and lever style connectors and terminations.

Ultimately, the choice between stranded and solid core wire depends on the specific requirements of the application and personal preferences.

Why use copper cored wire?

Most wire is made from some form of copper internally. The copper core in a stranded wire conducts more current with less voltage loss than the equivalent size aluminium wire. Copper is also easier to solder and does not need any specialist tools or equipment.

Copper cored wires come either plain copper or tinned copper. The difference is easy to see. Plain copper wires are copper coloured, and tinned copper wires are a tin colour. Tinned wires can generally be soldered without pre-tinning first, whereas copper cored wires should be tinned before soldering. The benefit of a tinned wire is that it will not corrode the way a plain copper cored wire will. This is also why lots of wiring connectors are pre tinned.

Wire types and specifications

Below you will find the general specifications of all of the wires sold on the Railwayscenics website. These descriptions are also included in the category headings and on the product description pages.

7/40awg (0.03mm sq) 32 AWG

A general purpose ultra flexible and ultra fine stranded wire, supplied in multiples of 1 metre lengths, that can be used for wiring DCC decoders and power leads between tenders and locomotives. Due to the very fine nature of this cable it can also be used as lighting wire where wires need to be insulated in lamp posts.

Where multiple quantities are ordered we will ship in one length where possible.

Available in 10 plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, purple, red, white and yellow.

Rating: 1.2A @ 250V RMS max
Outer diameter: 0.53mm nominal
Wall cover: PTFE
Core: Stranded, 7 x 40awg tinned copper conductor
Standards met: UL AWM 1213
Link to all 7/40awg products: See all 7/40awg products
7/0.12mm (0.08mm sq) 28 AWG

A general flexible stranded MPPE covered wire, supplied in multiples of 1 metre lengths, that can be used for wiring DCC decoders and other wiring applications where a thin wire is required.

Where multiple quantities are ordered we will ship in one length where possible.

Available in 10 plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, purple, red, white and yellow.

Rating: 1A @ 240V RMS max
Outer diameter: 0.75mm nominal
Wall cover: MPPE
Core: Stranded, 7/0.12 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: UL758, UL1581
Link to all 7/0.12mm products: See all 7/0.12mm products
1/0.25mm (0.05mm sq) 28 AWG

A general flexible stranded ETFE covered wire, supplied in multiples of 1 metre lengths, that can be used for wiring DCC decoders and other wiring applications where a thin wire is required.

Where multiple quantities are ordered we will ship in one length where possible.

Available in 10 plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, purple, red, white and yellow.

Rating: 1A @ 240V RMS max
Outer diameter: 0.55mm nominal
Wall cover: ETFE
Core: Solid, 1/0.25 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: MIL-W-81822/13
Link to all 1/0.25mm products: See all 1/0.25mm products
1/0.6mm (0.2mm sq) approx 24 AWG

A general purpose single strand wire. This wire stays in its formed shape without cable ties and is sold in 2m, 5m, 10m or 100m lengths.

We do not recommend using this wire where flex in the wiring is required as it easily breaks if not supported properly, but it can be used as DC track feeds, and DCC dropper wires if needed. It can also be used for wiring inside buildings and modes as it holds its shape and the small size of the wire is easy to hide.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 1.8A @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 1.2mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.3mm to DEF61-12 Type 2
Core: Solid, 0.6 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6
Link to all 1/0.6mm products: See all 1/0.6mm products
10/0.1mm (0.2mm sq ) approx 24 AWG

We no longer stock this wire as it was similar to the 7/0.2 wire which was a better quality so have left the specifications here for reference only.

A general purpose single core unsheathed, stranded, tinned, copper wire for wiring where there needs to be flexibility within the wire and is sold in 2m, 5m, 10m or 100m lengths.

This wire can be used in similar situations as the 7/0.2 wire that we sell as the wire is a similar size but can carry a lower maximum current. As it is extremely flexible it can be used inside model building or coaches in lighting wiring.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 0.5A @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 1.0mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.3mm to BS 6746
Core: Stranded, 10 x 0.1 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6, BS4808
Link to all 10/0.1mm products: See all 10/0.1mm products
7/0.2mm (0.2mm sq) approx 24 AWG

A general purpose single core unsheathed, stranded, tinned, copper wire for wiring most accessories for model railway layouts including most low voltage building and street lighting that uses either grain of wheat bulbs or LEDs or even for points position indicator LEDs. It can also be used for track power feeds, for wiring isolation switches on DC layouts and for general wiring of low voltage and current electric motors controller by a power supply or batteries..

This wire is not suitable for DCC power bus wires but can be used for DCC dropper wires if nothing else is available. It can be used for solenoid point motor operation as long as a capacitor discharge unit is not used and the point motors are close to the power source.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 1.4Amp @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 1.2mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.3mm to DEF61-12 Type 2 and BS4808
Core: Stranded, 7 x 0.2 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6, BS4808
Link to all 7/0.2mm products: See all 7/0.2mm products
16/0.2mm (0.5mm sq) approx 20 AWG

A general purpose single core unsheathed, stranded, tinned, copper wire for wiring most low current low voltage accessories for model railway layouts including DCC bus dropper wires, DC power feeds. It can also be used as a main feed or return for LED lighting if a larger wire is required.

Can be used as a bus wire or ring main for low voltage interior building lighting or for low current draw electric motors. Also used for solenoid point motor operation where a capacitor discharge unit is used.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 3.0A @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 1.6mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.3mm to DEF61-12 type 2 and BS4808
Core: Stranded, 16 x 0.2 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6, BS4808
Link to all 16/0.2mm products: See all 16/0.2mmproducts
24/0.2mm (0.75mm sq) approx 18 or 19 AWG

A general purpose single core unsheathed, stranded, tinned, copper wire for wiring most larger current or higher voltage accessories for model railway layouts including shorter runs of DCC bus wire, power feeds for some point motors or larger dropper wires on higher power consumption DCC layouts.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 4.5A @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 2.3mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.6mm to DEF61-12 type 2 and BS4808
Core: Stranded, 24 x 0.2 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6, BS4808
Link to all 24/0.2mm products: See all 24/0.2mm products
32/0.2mm (1.00mm sq) approx 17 AWG

A general purpose single core, unsheathed, stranded, tinned, copper wire for wiring most high current draw electronic and electrical accessories for model railway layouts including longer runs of DCC bus cables.

It can be used for some larger power point motors or for return or power supplies on solenoid point motors where several are joined together. It is also suitable for power feeds from most plug-in power supplies, or open cased transformers, as long as some form of circuit protection is used.

Available in plain colours of black, blue, brown, green. grey, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and in four different lengths.

Rating: 6A at 1500v RMS max
Outer diameter: 2.6mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.3mm to DEF61-12 type 2 and BS4808
Core: Stranded, 32 x 0.2 mm tinned copper conductor
Standards met: Def Stan 61-12 part 6, BS4808
Link to all 32/0.2mm products: See all 32/0.2mm products
16/0.2mm (0.5mm sq) approx 22 AWG Tri-rated cable

A tri-rated wire with a plain annealed, stranded, copper conductor that can be used for heavy duty DCC bus dropper wire and is sold in 10m lengths.

It is available in black, blue, brown, grey, orange and red.

Rating: 11A at 1500v RMS max
Outer diameter: 2.6mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.8mm to BS6746
Core: Stranded, 16 x 0.2 mm plain copper conductor
Standards met: BS6231, UL and CSA
Link to all 16/0.2mm products: See all 16/0.2mm Tri-rated products
30/0.25mm (1.5mm sq) approx 16 AWG Tri-rated cable

A tri-rated wire with a plain annealed, stranded, copper conductor that can be used for large runs of heavy duty DCC bus wire where a high power is required and it is sold in 10m lengths.

It is available in black, blue, brown, grey, orange and red.

Rating: 21A at 1500v RMS max
Outer diameter: 3.3mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.8mm to BS6746
Core: Stranded, 30 x 0.25 mm plain copper conductor
Standards met: BS6231, UL and CSA
Link to all 30/0.25mm products: See all 30/0.25mm Tri-rated products
50/0.25mm (2.5mm sq) approx 14 AWG Tri-rated cable

A tri-rated wire with a plain annealed, stranded, copper conductor that can be used for large runs of heavy duty DCC bus wire and is sold in 10m lengths.
Only available in black and red.

Rating: 30A at 1500v RMS max
Outer diameter: 3.6mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC 0.8mm to BS6746
Core: Stranded, 50 x 0.25 mm plain copper conductor
Standards met: BS6231, UL and CSA
Link to all 50/0.25mm products: See all 50/0.25mm Tri-rated products
55/0.1mm (0.43mm sq) approx 21 AWG

This is a general purpose very flexible wire used mainly for making test leads and is sold in multiples of 1m lengths.

Available in 6 different colours of black, blue, green, red, white and yellow.

Rating: 6.0A @ 1,000V RMS max
Outer diameter: 2.8mm nominal
Wall cover: PVC Type 2 to BS6746
Core: Stranded, 55 x 0.1 mm plain annealed copper conductor
Standards met: BS6746
Link to all 55/0.1 products: See all 55/0.1mm products

Multi core cable

Railwayscenics can now supply a range of budget multi core multi strand 7/0.2mm electrical wire. This wire has a white outer PVC sheath and is available in either 4, 6, 8, or 12 stranded options. This wire is suitable for all low current applications and is rated at 1.0amps. Wire colours can be found in the individual product listings.

Click the following link to see our complete range of layout electrical wire.