KB209: Amps To Run Your Railroad

This article was last updated on May 8, 2012, 2:28 p.m. | Print Article | Leave Feedback

Fortunately, most DCC railroad wiring is very simple and easy to install. One critical point for any DCC system is power consumption, how much power an individual Booster is able to deliver. The available power is measured in terms of Amperes or Amps. The higher the Amp rating, the more power is available to run your layout.

Amps have often been compared to water pressure in a pipe. When the pressure is low, turning on one faucet will draw from that water pressure. As more faucets are opened, the water flow from each faucet drops. One solution is to turn off some of the faucets. The other solution is to increase the water pressure.

Unlike water pipes, your DCC wiring is not going to explode if the amperage goes too high, but as a practical matter, the amperage is limited to 8-12 amps. This, combined with the Booster’s short circuit protection, prevents your locomotives from being welded to the rails in the event of a short circuit.

If your railroad’s power consumption is higher than the available power, the Booster will most likely shut down in the same way as if there was a short circuit on the track. Another indication that your power consumption is higher than the available power is that you may notice that your locos are running slowly and if you remove one or two locos speed will return to normal.

The solution is to divide the railroad up into power districts, isolating both rails of each district from the others. Then, each power district is connected to its own booster and power supply, and the various boosters are connected together via LocoNet so that they all deliver the same control signal to the entire layout. Digitrax offers 5, 8 & 20 amp power supplies.

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