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Hi Everyone, I just have a quick question that is probably going to be shorter then the answer, But I know someone here will have an answer for me.

My questions is I have 16 Menards buildings and I want to make a power supply for all of them so I can turn them on with one switch. I have a 12V power supply that puts out 14v at 2.5amps. Any ideas?

A;; ideas and suggestions are very welcomed!

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Tony,

I had no idea you could power that many buildings with just 2 of their power supplies.  That's good info.  I do have their accessory packs of cords as I've used them for my holiday displays with Lemax/Dept. 56.  They add a lot of flexibility for connecting a group of buildings like you say.  I have some of the buck converter parts but haven't tried them yet -- got parts list and diagrams from this forum a while back -- I know they will work.  I like the idea of running them through a fixed train transformer like all of my accessories.  I plan to do the same thing with Woodland Scenics buildings.  I find it satisfying to have all of my accessories running through my main transformers -- reduces the amount of outlets needed.  And then it's easier to turn the layout on and off at one central location -- as Mike is trying to do.  

Mike

Mike: I agree with Howard on the use of the buck converters. These are switch mode power converters that run without generating a lot of heat. And the output voltage can be adjusted to achieve the 4.5 volts (or whatever) that you desire. The input voltage must be higher than the output voltage so your 12-14 volt supply would work out perfectly.

You didn't say if your power supply is AC or DC. If it's AC, you'll need a buck converter that can handle the up front rectification from AC to DC. Fortunately, there are buck converters that include a bridge rectifier built into the module. This is the type that I bought, pictured below. I used 12 volts AC input from a train transformer and got out a nice steady 5 volts.

3-3V-5V-6V-9V-12V-24V-Mini-AC-DC-To-DC-Buck-Step-Down-Adjustable-Volt-Converter

These are currently available on eBay for about $3 free shipping from Asia.

If your power supply puts out DC, then you won't need the bridge rectifier and you can choose a DC-DC buck converter that costs even less. However, the above unit will work with either AC or DC.

You may need to get more than one with all of the buildings that you've got. Steady amperage is going to be lower than the 2.2 max that they advertise. I would expect about 1.5 amps per unit.

Hi Guys, thanks for the information, I have a buck convertor for DC to DC and that just happens to be what my 12v power supply is. I didnt know if I could run all my lights threw one convertor or not. I wanted to ask this before I hooked anything up a cooked it! LOL 

I know my 12v LED's I can run 20-30 lights with no problem as thats about how many were on my old airfield that I am still trying to find a place on the layout!

Thanks again, I will keep you all posted and if you come up with any more ideas please let me know!

I will let you all know. I went out and did a little test with the 12v LED's I have and they are really dim at 4.5v. But they have some kind of reducer on them and if I cut it off and wire a new lead to the LED its nice and bright. Here are a couple photos to show the difference at 4.5v.

IMG_20200929_073559383IMG_20200929_073636329

The one on the right is the one with the power reducer and the one on the left is the one I cut it off of. So now I will have to go back and redo all my street lights! LOL

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Hi Everyone,

No need to over complicate things.  

Our transformers can run multiple buildings (as noted by above).

We have 3 sizes of transformers available. For your purposes, I suggest using some of our bigger 5-Amp model (SKU# 279-4050), as opposed to the 1-Amp or 3 amp models.

However, some buildings take a lot more power than others. For example, the World Headquarters building takes much more power than the Melrose Park train station. I've tried to my best to indicate the approximate power draw for each building on our website. This can help you as a guide.

Remember, the electronic signs (which are little computer boards) are the most sensitive components. Anything much over 4.5 volts or not very "clean" current will ruin them quite quickly.

The best idea is to use our transformers. If you do use other power sources, you use them at your own risk. We believe, unless you are pretty much an expert, it's just not worth the risk.

The simple, cheap answer to a single switch are power strips (as mentioned above). Add extension cords in between and you can put them wherever you need them on your layout.

Be safe, have fun and stay well!

-Mark the Menards Train Guy

Thanks Menards for the info above. But I was thinking some of your early xfmrs were not good for your buildings. Seems I remember the output voltages were all over the place and were not regulated outputs. So if I am correct, how do we tell which of Menards power supplies are OK to use? Is there some type of date or model # stamped on the back of the newer power supplies? Thanks for any input.

Hi, FWIW, I have 8 Menards buildings and numerous lighted vehicles and lighted signs, all powered with Menards power supplies which are plugged into a power strip.  The power strip is plugged into a Christmas light receiver which I control with the Christmas light transmitter.  Thus I can turn on/off all Menards products by pushing one button on the transmitter.

i have approximately 150 Dept 56 style buildings powered off multiple power strips controlled using this system.  One three channel transmitter controls all of these.  Very efficient way to remotely power these type items.

sonny

 

Mark,

Your insight is helpful as is the other comments here.  Especially the risk you point out of damaging them.  It still would be nice if there was a conversion device that would allow you to run everything on a fixed transformer -- so you can have the choice to do so.  I like to run long runs of wire under the layout table through drill holes and have them meet where my transformers are at.  The wiring is cleaner that way.  Woodland Scenics products allow you to splice the wires and do so -- and eliminate the need for multiple power strips.  Miller Engineering signs allow you to do the same with their converter.   I do like the new wiring extensions Menards has.  And for smaller layouts and temporary holiday displays, they work fine.

River City 3 Railers has 15 Menards buildings on our 12x15 modular layout.  Two of these (World Headquarters and Parking Garage) have sufficient power requirements that we  use the Menards supplies. To power the remaining 13, we used nine of the AC/DC converters Consolidated Leo mentioned.

They are powered by the accessory circuit of our MRC Pure Power Dual transformer. It puts out 13.3VAC. These converters were checked and adjusted to ensure 4.5vdc BEFORE plugging in any device. And, these converters are rated for 2.5a. We limit the load @ 75% of capacity.

CCTV power plugs prewired on each of 7 modules. It is important for us to be able to plug in the building, set it down on the layout and go. Our goal is to be able to unload the trailer and have the layout operational in one hour or less.

The load data provided by Menards was invaluable. 

Last edited by Gilly@N&W

Morning guys, just a little update. I hooked up a 13.5v power supply to a dc to dc buck converter with 4.5v output. to date I have 8 Menards buildings, a Fuel station, yard lights, a scratch built Tank Farm, and 3 Menards lighted vehicles hooked up with no ill affect to any of them.

Here are a couple photos.IMG_20201006_135100410IMG_20201006_135108400

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@mike g. posted:

Morning guys, just a little update. I hooked up a 13.5v power supply to a dc to dc buck converter with 4.5v output. to date I have 8 Menards buildings, a Fuel station, yard lights, a scratch built Tank Farm, and 3 Menards lighted vehicles hooked up with no ill affect to any of them.

Here are a couple photos.IMG_20201006_135100410IMG_20201006_135108400

Mike,

Thanks for sharing.  This helps me a lot in near term planning for my Menards buildings.  I like how you have the power plant (which I have in a box) in front of the nuclear plant in front of your blue sky back drop.   My train room walls are painted the same.  The detail on the 4.5 volt coverage helps a lot.   

Mike  

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