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"...the risk of a fire from overloading the outlet?"

Assuming that the receptacle is wired according to the NEC, there will be no fire.

Why would you expect it to catch fire? Do your other household receptacles burst into flame occasionally? Probably not, I would guess. That's because they are protected with circuit breakers of the correct rating, are fed by the correct gauge of copper wire, and are wired correctly.

For comparison, a typical microwave oven draws 1200 Watts. A typical large transformer, such as a Lionel ZW, draws 275 Watts.  That's the equivalent of about 3, 100-Watt light bulbs, or one-third of the microwave.

With a properly rated breaker (typically 15 or 20A) in your home's electrical panel and the breaker(s) in your transformer(s), you should be safe from fire.

The thing to watch out for is if you have more than one house circuit, and therefore multiple CBs, feeding the receptacles in your train room. Multiple house breakers and receptacle circuits MUST be on the SAME leg of the power feed into your house! Otherwise you have out of phase power sources feeding to the same point, a BAD situation! A qualified electrician will understand this immediately.

Chris

LVHR

@lehighline posted:

With a properly rated breaker (typically 15 or 20A) in your home's electrical panel and the breaker(s) in your transformer(s), you should be safe from fire.

The thing to watch out for is if you have more than one house circuit, and therefore multiple CBs, feeding the receptacles in your train room. Multiple house breakers and receptacle circuits MUST be on the SAME leg of the power feed into your house! Otherwise you have out of phase power sources feeding to the same point, a BAD situation! A qualified electrician will understand this immediately.

Chris

LVHR

Chris, you've raised a good point, but I need some clarification please.   Our new-to-us 105 yr old house has a 100-amp breaker panel & an 80-amp breaker panel next to it.  If I run my trains off a dedicated 20-amp breaker from either panel will phasing of the panels be a concern to me ?   If so, how would I check the phasing ?  ps. everything electrical in the house seems to work ok  (despite the sloppy wiring which I'm correcting)  Thk you !    Rich in SD

Rich, household 220 volts comes in on two separate legs. The phase problem arises if you have transformers hooked to outlets on different legs. Using a single outlet will not have this problem, because it is only using one leg . You would still have to have all transformers on that one outlet in phase with each other, which is just a simple orientation of the cord plug if needed.

@John H posted:

Rich, household 220 volts comes in on two separate legs. The phase problem arises if you have transformers hooked to outlets on different legs. Using a single outlet will not have this problem, because it is only using one leg . You would still have to have all transformers on that one outlet in phase with each other, which is just a simple orientation of the cord plug if needed.

Makes sense John.  I can't imagine using more than a 120V-20amp breaker to power my layout,  thks !

Rich,

John is spot on: One receptacle, no problems.

But for the benefit of others, let's go a little way down this rabbit hole. To check of the receptacles are all on the same circuit, plug a known good lamp into one and turn it on. Find which CB turns it off. Leave the lamp on, and plug it into the remaining receptacles in the room. If the lamp stays off, and only one CB is off, all those receptacles are on the same circuit.

If the lamp becomes lit when you plug it into another receptacle, that one is on another CB. Check the remaining receptacles to see if any others are lit. Now turn the original CB back on, and find the CB the turns the other circuit off.

Have a qualified electrician look at the identified CBs to determine if they are on the same leg or not. Different electrical panels have different internal configurations, so I'm not going to give advice on that. BTW, the house wire connections to the CBs usually can be reconfigured so that the separate circuits are on the same leg. Again, a qualified electrician is your friend. I do NOT recommend your changing house wiring yourself, unless you are electrically qualified.

Chris

LVHR

I just want to note that using receptacles from the same or different sides on the 120/240 mains is not an assurance of transformer OUTPUT phasing.  Transformers, even the same make & model, can and often do differ in their internal wiring.  Phasing transformers has been a frequent topic on this forum.

Rare indeed is the layout that requires obtaining 120-volt input from more than one receptacle.

@lehighline posted:

Rich,

John is spot on: One receptacle, no problems.

But for the benefit of others, let's go a little way down this rabbit hole. To check of the receptacles are all on the same circuit, plug a known good lamp into one and turn it on. Find which CB turns it off. Leave the lamp on, and plug it into the remaining receptacles in the room. If the lamp stays off, and only one CB is off, all those receptacles are on the same circuit.

If the lamp becomes lit when you plug it into another receptacle, that one is on another CB. Check the remaining receptacles to see if any others are lit. Now turn the original CB back on, and find the CB the turns the other circuit off.

Have a qualified electrician look at the identified CBs to determine if they are on the same leg or not. Different electrical panels have different internal configurations, so I'm not going to give advice on that. BTW, the house wire connections to the CBs usually can be reconfigured so that the separate circuits are on the same leg. Again, a qualified electrician is your friend. I do NOT recommend your changing house wiring yourself, unless you are electrically qualified.

Chris

LVHR

Chris, thks.  Not to hijack the OP's thread, but IMG_2438I am tackling some rewiring here, I enjoy it & take my time.  It's going to be better than what I found in the attic when I went to add some insulation !   Can't believe people left hazards like this & then slept in the house !   

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  • IMG_2438

I see at least 3 National Electric Code violations: 1. All splices are to be in an enclosed box. 2. No wire nuts or equivalent.  3. I see no green wiring, meaning the house does not have a ground circuit and any 3-prong receptacles and plugs are not able to do their job.

It is common in older houses, say from 1920's & 1930's, that there is no ground circuit in the house wiring.  Some of those old houses used BX cable.  Trestleking, you have some problems.  Good luck.

You are lucky in one respect.  I had a neighbor who, after buying a house, found that a prior owner had used lamp cord to do some wiring.

Being electronically stupid, and desiring to render these types of concerns substantially moot, I just ran a brand new dedicated 20 amp line from my breaker box over to my train layout, with a GFI breaker in the outlet.   I bought and pulled the romex myself, and also installed the box and outlet, so all the electrician needed to do was to put the end of the line into the box with a new breaker.   I left him lots of extra wire to do this.   He only charged me $75 to come over and do this, including checking my outlet box and testing the line.

If your layout is in the basement, with all of the overhead floor joists exposed, then just to it.  :-)

I guess that if somebody tells me that this is "too much juice" I can always just use the old 15 amp outlet that was already there.

Mannyrock

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