A raceway is a rectangular sign mounting structure that also serves as an enclosure for both signage electrical components (such as transformers) and wiring.
Some property owners require raceway channel letter mounting. This mounting type has one important advantage over flush—fewer mounting holes. That can be an important consideration for a building owner. Raceways are often painted to blend in with the building façade color.
By comparison, a wireway is a slimmer aluminum enclosure and mounting structure. The dictionary definition of a wireway is a “prefabricated, enclosed passage for electrical wiring.” Channel letters are mounted to wireways just as they are mounted to raceways.
Wireways (pictured, left) are also sometimes specified by landlords. A wireway is sometimes needed because a channel letter set is only permitted to protrude a specified distance from the wall, and wireways are thinner than raceways. A raceway could cause the sign to exceed the permissible “protrusion distance.”
Unlike a raceway, a wireway may serve triple duty—a wiring enclosure, a letter mounting surface, and a backing board.
Wireways typically don’t contain electrical components. (Instead the components are usually placed inside the wall.) That is because replacing an electrical component that is enclosed in a wireway requires the entire sign structure to be removed from the building façade. That can be expensive and time-consuming.
In contrast, a raceway requires only the raceway top to be removed for component replacement – simple and quick.
One other distinction: Wireways require more mounting holes than raceways. However, they still require fewer holes than flush mounted channel letters.
Both raceways and wireways makes a sign easier to remove and relocate. However raceways may contain both electrical components and wiring, while wireways are slimmer, narrower, and usually contain only wires.
—John Baylis, Direct Sign Wholesale