While you can wire your operating accessories to your track, we recommend having a separate power supply. It may seem like a lot of extra work, especially if your layout is small and you have only a few accessories, but the advantages far outweigh the extra labor. If your layout grows, you’ll be even more happy you took the time to start it off right.
Why separate trains and accessories?
Your trains require variable AC voltage to operate. This means that you can increase or decrease the voltage supplied to the train to change its speed. While accessories can work this way, most will look and operate much better on a fixed voltage. That is, they will operate at the same intensity whenever they are turned on. Separating the two has a lot of advantages:
- Accessories work better. With their own power supply line, accessories will not speed up, brighten or dim as you change train speed. They won’t turn off or flicker as you change direction either.
- Accessories will last longer. By using a recommended 14 volts fixed AC power source, light bulbs and motors will not operate at the full extent of the 18 volts they will receive from full track power. So not only will they operate consistently, you’re also prolonging their life.
- Trains will operate more reliably as amperage for lights and other accessories isn’t diverted from track power. As the power demands of your layout near the maximum output of your transformer(s), this could result in noticeable speed reductions when accessories are activated.
- Troubleshooting is much easier with isolated systems.
- Expansion is much easier with separate systems and wiring bus lines.
For more on how to separate and wire your accessories, follow along in this video: