Running power over CAT5e cable

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MinnMonkey, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I am wondering if there would be any problems with running all my power to the tracks over CAT5e cable.

    I am running DC, and CAT5 would really help with the cable management
  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Cat 5e cable is actually pretty darn small isn't it?

    How big is your layout? What scale?
  3. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I've seen people use Cat5 for controlling remote turnouts, not for the main power bus. It's pretty small gauge cable (24g) for handling that kind of job I think. I think 16g or 14g is usually the recommended smallest you go for the main.
  4. CowDung

    CowDung New Member

    You don't want to use 24 gauge wire to carry anything more than 1 amp--especially for continuous loading.

    You can probably find multiconductor cable of a heavier gauge at your local electrical supply store or mail order from Newark or someone like that.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Cat 5 cable should only be used for low power data, just like regular telephone cable. Not only is the wire gauge too small, but it has a tight twist and so your wire length is even longer than your cable length. You will not only have a larger voltage drop, but at higher currents, the wire will actually get hot. Not a good idea to use for power.
  6. JR&Son

    JR&Son Member

    If you are talking about a small 4X8 layout or something simular, I would give it a try by pairing or even quadrupling the "running" leads. Cat 5 has 8 wires, that would give you 4 negatives and 4 positives, Im guessing several amps worth. NOT ideal for a huge layout, but should work fine something smaller. Im using 22 gauge every six feet, all of them tied to an 18 guage wire near the center of the layout, measuring with a DVOM im not seeing more than a 1/10 of a volt difference anywhere on the lay out. phase 2 is 4 x 8, phase 1 is 3 x 6 and is wired the same way, phase 3 is 2 x 8 and is also wired the same way.

    Dont wire from Cat 5 to Cat 5
    14, 16, or 18 to Cat 5
    Then do it again

  7. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    On the whole, I'd say there are much better choices. Even something like doorbell wire would be an improvement.

  8. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I've used it on turn outs, powering lights, and other things. What I would avoid using it to power the tracks. I would use 12 to 10 gauge wire.


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