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I start and run my TIU/WIU on only when running trains. This means for each operating session I need to wait several minutes for everything to boot up, wait for the  DCS internet to start so my iphone can find the network, etc.   Does anyone just leave their TIU/WIU up  and running all the time?   This would reduce the amount of startup time when its time to run trains. As time goes on I'm finding the startup process is killing the spontaneous running of trains for a few minutes here and there.


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I never leave anything running when I'm not in the train room.  It doesn't take my stuff that long to boot up, I think the MTH WIU is the last thing that is on-line for use.  The TIU and Legacy command base are up in a few seconds.  The Lionel WiFi is up in around 15-20 seconds.  The MTH WIU seems to take the longest, but I only use it occasionally as I still prefer the plain old remote.

I always unplug everything when not in use.  A few years ago, I had a power surge (nearby lightning strike?) that fried a TV, cable box, garbage disposal, and the electronics in my tablesaw.  There was just enough loss to make it not worth making an insurance claim.

I'm REALLY happy that my Z4000s and other train-related electronics were spared.  It would have been a case of instant un-gratification.

When I go downstairs to run the layouts, it's for relaxation. I take my time. Sometimes, I just go into the train room and admire the layouts and don't even run any trains. The trains and layouts are interesting to look at, even when nothing is running, although they've been there for many years. So, there's no hurry to get things moving. It's part of enjoying the hobby.


@MELGAR posted:

Sometimes, I just go into the train room and admire the layouts and don't even run any trains. The trains and layouts are interesting to look at, even when nothing is running,

Glad to see I’m not the only one, Melgar!  Just going into that room and looking at the layout is an immediate de-stressor for me. I even love the smell of it, LOL!

I have ( 2) 5 volt transformers that stay plugged in all the time, since they are essentially just phone chargers. They run a few LED lights. They're cool to look at night when I get up to pee (sorry for the's an old man thing...LOL).

Other than that, I have everything on power strips, which get shut off. I have had lightening strikes fry stuff and I think that overall, its a good idea to leave your DCS wifi off. Not to mention, my other devices are always trying to connect to it.

On a related note, my wife asked why there was a fire extinguisher in there. She got the "deer in the headlights look".

Last edited by endless tracks

On a related note, my wife asked why there was a fire extinguisher in there. She got the "deer in the headlights look".

I have three - one near each door and one about 10 feet from where the transformers are located.  Need to get the fire out quickly or get everyone out of the house, call 911, and argue with the insurance company later.

Verbatim from a FDNY Fire Marshal - the most common cause of residential fires is poorly made electrical power strips (read cheap Chinese imports). Not candles and not cigarettes. If you aren’t paying $75 for a USA made, UL tested power strip, you a running a very real risk of having a house fire. No baloney.

Well... maybe, maybe not.

5 Leading Causes of House Fires

The Top 3 Reasons Fires Start in Your Home

I would never leave the train equipment powered up 24 hours a  day your asking for problems, especially because the power company can have any power transients at any time especially if there is a car accident and a pole is take out or power grid sends a voltage spike which can cause hi voltage emf spikes which can damage electronics components easily !


I suspect there are many other places in the house that are far more likely to have fire issues than the layout, especially if you have done proper wiring and have circuit protection in place.  Think of how many toaster ovens and coffee makers burn down houses!

That is why I have extinguishers everywhere in the house, especially the kitchen.  We do unplug appliances when not in use.  Our extended family has had two house fires with injuries (older homes).  And yes, I am overly careful.

I highly recommend you turn off all power to the trains when leaving the room.

Last edited by CAPPilot

Yup - Works for me🥸 Probably guilding the lily, but he was speaking from his experience, not an opinion, nor a statistic from the UFA, or the NFPA. And, I’ll go by his opinion. I’m sure you know that FDNY Fire Marshals teach the Arson Investigation curriculum to the FBI?

"The 356,500 home structure fires in 2020 (26 percent) caused 2,580 civilian fire deaths (74 percent); 11,500 civilian injuries (76 percent), and $8.4 billion in direct property damage (38 percent)."

"According to the ESFI, over 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords and power strips each year, killing 50 people and injuring 270 more."

Interestingly enough, apparently the defective power strips account for about 2% of the annual fatalities, probably because they might happen while you're sleeping.  It also appears that when I search for reasons for power strips causing fires, most of the time it's stated that overloads are the top cause.

Now, I may not be the worlds greatest mathematician, but that looks more like 1% of the structure fires are caused by power strips and extension cords.  I'm not saying that's a good thing, but inflating a 1% chance to the leading cause of fires is a bit over the top, at least IMO.

I'm also sure that one guy can easily be biased against Chinese imports and form an opinion not based on actual facts.  Just because someone teaches something, that doesn't make him unbiased.  I don't apologize for considering the opinion of a national organization over the opinion of one man who I know nothing about.   I try to do a bit more research and not blindly trust a single opinion on matters that are important to me.

I guess you should also consider not buying Chinese manufactured appliances either, since they doubtless have more risk than a simple power strip.  Oops, better avoid those Chinese manufactured trains, they're so likely to catch on fire...

Since I don't wish to get into a shoving contest on this point, this will be my last word on the topic, feel free to have your last word.

I turn everything off. Also have two gas/fire detectors under the layout and an extinguisher ready.

You might be able to turn on your layout with some circuit that you turn on when ever you are home and awake. That way it’s at the ready and still not at the risk of being unsupervised. The gas/fire detectors will go a long way to answer the cautions noted here as well.

There are two smoke detectors in my train room, one is on the central station alarm system, the other one is a local one but it's also wired throughout the house and all the detectors will sound if it detects a fire.  All of the smoke detectors were replaced in 2018 after we moved into this house.  The central station smoke detectors are also CO detectors.  I have a combustible gas detector in the heater room as well.

The train room outlets are all Amazon Echo compatible, and I've set up to turn the lights on with "Alexa, turn the train room on" (there are other scenarios i've set up for different lighting like , sunset, midday and night).  As far as train power goes (controlling transformers, TIU/AIUs, wireless modules, etc, it's a simple "Alexa, turn train power on".

Makes it all simple & convenient.

Short answer: nothing is left powered when I'm away.

I have Alexa everywhere .... and have never had that occur in the 3 years I've had this set up.  I have an app on my phone that shows all outlets currently in-use, and can remotely turn it off too.  

The bigger inconvenience is if my network goes down for some reason, then I have to manually turn the switches on to run my trains.

Last edited by ScottV

When it comes to power strips always look for a testing agency approval such as UL, CSA,  etc. There are others, but those two are the most common testing agencies.

No apparent testing agency approval on the power strip?  Then don't buy it. Look extra hard on very cheap power strips - that testing isn't free, and it gets rolled into the price of the power strip.


For me everything is unplugged when not in use.  Last year a tree root broke the neutral feeding the house, fortunately we were home.   Each of the "Protected" power strips started smoking and would have caused a fire if we were not home to shut off the power, all the dumb strips were fine.  Fortunately none of the major appliances were damaged and are all still working.   What did die along with the protected power strips were all the LED lights that were on, the garage door openers, the Craftsman tool battery chargers, and one radio.   There are still burn marks on the floor where the computer power strip was sitting. 

After the power line was repaired and a new meter put in I looked at getting the garage openers fixed.   After removing the control boards I notice two can capacitors that looked funny.  In my parts box I had the correct items and once replaced the one garage door opener worked.   Encouraged I opened the Craftsman V20 chargers, sure enough there were some swollen capacitors.   When the parts came in from Digikey I got them working again.

  Had I not been home I would have returned to a smoking ruin due to the power strips.  Overall I got off cheap, about $10 in parts and some replacement LED lights.   I now pay extra to have full house surge protection from the power company, but still I keep things unplugged since you never know. 

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