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So, I'm at the stage where I am planning my electrical...  2 questions please...

1. My layout is "basically" a fancy 17x12 loop that I will control from in the middle.   Do most folks with this size layout bother to wire in a Master Emergency All Stop button at the far outside of the layout?  So if I'm not right next to the big ZW-L that powers it all, and something goes wrong, ie: serious short/crash, etc., I can slap that big red button to freeze everything.  Basically a cut off from the wall to the transformer?  Or, in line from transformer to layout?   Please show me what you did!  I don't even know if I should be concerned.  Pics please!

2.  When you shut down, do most of you just turn off the transformer button before you leave the room?  Or is there another fire safety type protocol I should wire in like a master on/off for all power to the transformer.   I was thinking the switch on the surge protector the transformer is plugged to?   Is this enough?


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When we built our house, I had two 20 amp circuits put in the basement (train room).  Each circuit is controlled by its own 20 amp wall switch near the stairs.  I also have my transformers plugged into surge protectors.

I used to turn off the surge protectors and the wall switches, but now just the wall switches.  The wall switches are hard to miss and easy to check when I leave the basement.

Having these “master” switches gives me a good level of comfort that there is no power to the layout when I leave the room.

I used Wireless switches to turn off the entire layout and also to be able to power cycle individual transformers.  As a final warning, I have a nice bright red light that tells me that the layout is on.

DEWENWILS Remote Control Outlet, Upgraded Version Wireless Remote Light Switch for Lamp, Household Appliances, 15A/1875W, 100 FT Long Range, ETL Listed, White (2 Remotes + 5 Outlets Set)

I have four of these remotes that are scattered around the layout, the four transformers are on the first four buttons, the 5th button is the master off for the entire layout.  I normally stick one of these in my pocket when I'm running so I have instant control of the layout power at any time.

The receivers here are for each of the PowerHouse 180 transformers.  If I need to reset the breaker for an individual power district, I can cycle just that transformer from anywhere in the room.


This receiver turns off all the power to the layout.

Up on the wall I have an additional receiver with an LED bulb that is slaved to the main power, whenever the power is on, that bulb is on.  This alerts me to the fact that the layout is on if I'm leaving and forgot to turn it off.


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I have one key switch mounted in my control panel which is at the train room exit that energizes or  de-energizes three 3 pole contactors.  There are 6 - 20 amp lines on the contactor that go dead when I turn the key switch when I exit.  The only thing active is voltage to fire the contactor. Then there are 7 wall switches to turn off the ceiling high hats if I had them on - they are zoned by area.  This all was a requirement by you know who so she feels safe when I leave the train room.   JP

John I hear what you are saying but I would guess he turns off the power strip to kill the load as you don't want to unplug with a load on it.  Then he unplugs the power strip so that won't catch anything on fire.  I have seen with my own eyes a power strip that sparked out and caught the carpet on fire,  Homeowner put out carpet.  Surge came from a car that hit a pole a few houses away.  So it can happen.  Rare - yes. Who wants to gamble......

When clearing out my father's house two years ago, I found power strips that were 30 years old, and built like industrial grade devices.  Very heavy units, heavy wire, great lights, hefty positive click switches.

The ones that are sold today seem like total and absolute lightweight junk, made in China.  I do not trust them at all.

So, I always end my sessions by turning off all power block switches, and unplugging the transformer.  Currently it is plugged into a wall socket, but I am going to install an outlet box on the side of my table, with a 20 amp wire going to the outlet, to be plugged into the wall outlet, so that I can plug and unplug my transformer at waist height, right next to my control box.

As far as an emergency kill switch, Johns use of the remote fob devices seems to be the way to go.



I couldn't help but notice that those look like 18 gauge wires that are connected to all of the breakers, DCS unit, and other equipment under your table.  Are those carrying the full 16 volt load from your transformers to the bus lines?  (Not criticizing, just trying to learn.)

I don't have separate breaker units on my power supply out of the transformer, which I think are a good idea, and may save the poster from having to do an emergency unplug.   What model and manufacturer are those breakers please?


@Mannyrock posted:

I couldn't help but notice that those look like 18 gauge wires that are connected to all of the breakers, DCS unit, and other equipment under your table.  Are those carrying the full 16 volt load from your transformers to the bus lines?  (Not criticizing, just trying to learn.)

You're noticing incorrectly.   All the feeds from the transformers to the TIU channels are #16 and they're short runs.  The output of the TIU goes to the terminal blocks next to them, the wiring out to the track is #14.  Current carrying isn't an issue, so I only concern myself with voltage drop at maximum current, that's a little less than 1% for the roughly four feet of #16 wire used.  I can assure you, even running three trains on the mainline, all with smoke, no issues at all with power drops.

I have a GFI outlet and  a standard rocker switch integrated into my control panel.   There is a 12 gauge stranded cable feeding the GFI than switch.  The switch feeds a gang of 10 duplex outlets under the table for transformers, power supplies and the like.  There is also another switch mounted under the table edge fed off the rocker switch which controls under table lighting.  The control panel outlet is handy for soldering, IPAD charging, upgrade equipment, etc.

As such, there is a single switch controlling primary power to the entire layout all of which is GFI protected.

John your wireless plug adaptors are a great idea. I currently turn off an old surge protector (with a dead battery backup) that I get free from work when the battery dies. these are much more "protective" than the traditional power strip. However, I have to bend down to access the on/off switch under the layout.

With your idea, I can add these wireless switches to my wall plugs. I am actually using a few wall plugs, in different locations around the room, which are connected to two different circuits. This will save the "bending down" to access the power strips under the layout, lying on the floor. I also like the idea of cycling only one transformer to repair a trip due to a derailment. I currently have to turn the entire layout on/off, which is not always desirable when multiple people are working the layout. Its hard to hide your derailment (usually an operator error) when you kill everyone's power, and they have to re-start their MTH engine.

I am a big proponent of switchable power strips.  I have dozens of the around the house, shop and train room.  I lost a stereo receiver to a lighting strike to my apartment wiring, with the receiver plugged in but not operating.  Now, I use power strips to plug in the receiver, TT, CD, RTR and cassette recorders, to turn them on and off.  This also saves wear and tear on the the hard to replace equipment on and off switches and turns them all on and off at one time.  Then I unplug the power strip, taking all that audio gear off the house wiring.

My layout is plugged into a power strip that I do not unplug as I have post war transformers and no modern delegate electronics to protect.  But after leaving the layout on, over night a couple of times, I have added a Christmas light timer the allows 2, 4 or 6 hours of time "on" and to turn the layout on and off if I forget to turn it off.  I have small pilot lights on each control panel but they are to easy for me to over look.


I have a heavy duty 12 gauge 3 wire grounded extension cord from the wall outlet to my layout. I mounted a 2 gang box with a 3 wire grounded plug coming out of it that the extension cord plugs into. The plug is wired first to a 15 Amp rated switch and then a 15 amp rated duplex outlet. My 8 outlet surge protector plugs into one of the duplex outlet slots and I have a LED Night Light with the light sensor covered up plugged into the other slot so it is lit up if the switch is on, if the switch is off, everything is off.

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