Wiring Color Code

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A wiring color code can save your life when trying to determine what wire is doing what within a layout. However, the most important rule to follow is: Whatever the code is, stick to it! It may help to buy your wiring locally, so that if you run out, you can call at the store and buy more. This will help you keep to your color code.

It's best to develop a color code when you're just getting started.

Need suggestions (or example) on color codes? Based on the fact that many modelers want to use regular house wiring, so lets start there. Use white and black from your booster out to the tracks (note: this is not the wire you use to connect directly to the track, this is the main bus wire), remembering that feeds between booster districts are NOT to be connected together! Red and yellow for reverse buses. All that is left is to pick two more colors for bus feeders (sub buses), such as blue and orange.

If you use the bare copper wire as part of your feeder system, be very careful it doesn't contact anything that is grounded to your home wiring.

Digitrax suggested a wiring color code: use this or use your own - it's your choice.

Track power leads red black
Switch machine power leads, Solenoid switch machines Yellow - Closed White - Open Blue - Common
Slow motion and Polarity dependant solenoid switch machines Yellow White
Direct current accessory motor power leads Orange Gray
Alternating current power leads to boosters and command stations Violet Brown

Purchase Wire from a Favourite Home Improvement Outlet

The advantages are numerous. The most important one is that if you run out of wire, you can easily get more, which helps you stick to your color codes. As a benefit, you may get a better price than an electronics supply store.

Heavy stranded wire. At Home Depot, they stock:

  • 14 AWG: Black Beige Red Blue Green White
  • 12 AWG: Black Red(Rose) White Blue Orange Yellow Brown Green
  • 10 AWG: Brown Orange Yellow Black Red Blue White

Similar stock is carried at Lowe's and other big box home improvement stores. Check your local options!

Heavy solid wire for wiring homes. This stuff is cheap, so you may want to base your power distribution buses on this. It is stiffer and more difficult to work with than stranded wire, so try it out before committing yourself.

See Also

  • Wiring - Primary wiring article.