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Power for New Layout Room

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  • Member since
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  • 6 posts
Power for New Layout Room
Posted by MGAMike on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 11:05 AM
Hi There!  I am currently preparing to build a room (second floor of garage) to house my model railroad.  As I am designing and planning, I am having a hard time estimating how much power will be needed for the room (trains).  Does anyone have any opinions or thoughts on how much power I will need to have?  How many outlets on any given 20 amp circuit, how many different 20 amp circuits, etc?
My planned layout will be an around-the-walls double deck shelf layout with peninsula.  Initially I plan to use standard DC with the ability to run up to 5 trains at once.  My power packs (x5) are MRC Tech 6 Sound Controller 6.0.  I currently only have one sound equipped loco, and I may someday switch to DCC.  Figuring in scenery and signal lighting, any thoughts on power needs?
Once I estimate my layout needs, then I can add in my HVAC requirements and what is needed for rest of garage to determine overall breaker box size and amperage for the entire building.
Thanks in advance for your help!!
  • Member since
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 4:59 PM

 I am sooon to be in the same boat, redoing my basement. My main panel is in the garage, opposite side from the basement, and it is a true pain running wires over there, so I am planning to have a sub-panel installed for the basement. Things already on a dedicated circuit can stay, like the furnace, but anything sharing a circuit will get reqired to the new panel. There will be a dedicate circuit for the laundry, and another for the freezer. One or two for overhead lights - I have a drop ceiling and I plan to install overhead lights pretty much only where aisles will be. A pair of circuits for wall ooutlets should eb plenty for a layout - one will be for layout lighting power supplies and the other will be for the actual layout electronics. Both will be switchable from the top of the stairs - so I can leave the room and know power is killed to everything - particularly during construction so there are no soldering irons left on or any other such hazard.

 Fairl amitious but in the end the layout space will have 3 or 4 circuits, that's it. And that should bee plenty. Remember, 40 amps of DCC output draws well under 10 amps from the wall. Drop the voltage 10x, you increase the current 10x, if the power supply is 100% efficient. No such thing, but even cheap ones are more than 50% efficient. At 50%, you'd get 40 amps out with an 8 amp draw.

 Since I'm not even sure how anything else in the basement is wired, this is subject to change. I wouldn;t put it past the original owners, based on some things I've found, to have the curnace and water heater just sharing with the wall outlets or something stupid. I have plenty of spaces in my main panel to put a 240 drop to a sub panel - and I should have plenty of capacity since I removed two 240 circuits when I moved in and replaced the electric cooktop and electric built in ooven with a gas range. And I have a gas clothes dryer so I don't need a 240 circuit to the laundry. 

                             --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 6:04 PM

Don't forget to consider normal appliances that may be used in the room: vacuum cleaners, air compressors, power tools, lamps, drop lights, fans, even the hair blow dryer used to shrink heat shrink wrap, etc.

Robert

LINK to SNSR Blog


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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 8:01 PM

MGAMike
...How many outlets on any given 20 amp circuit, how many different 20 amp circuits, etc?....

I'd suggest that you check your local or state regulations regarding the allowable number of outlets on a circuit.

Here in Ontario, where a standard circuit is 15 amps, we are allowed twelve light fixtures and/or outlets per circuit.  This assumes a nominal one amp load per light or receptacle, so well within safety considerations.   I have four circuits serving the layout room, which has 29 light fixtures (mostly 4' double-tube fluorescents) and 6 standard two-outlet receptacles (there were originally more of the latter, but once the layout was in place, the surplus ones were removed) well within the allowable limits.  Anything which can be plugged into a standard outlet is allowable. 
You'll likely need a permit to do or have-done the wiring, and the inspection of the finished work will note any shortcomings.

Wayne

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 8:17 PM

In the US, unless someone changed things without telling me, you can have as many receptacles on a general purpose circuit as you want.

One 15 or 20 amp circuit is way more than you need to run a layout.

The lighting, on the other hand, may be something else.  Luckily, with lighting, the load maxes out with all the lights on.  So the load calculation is simple.  Add up all the wattage.  Allow 1920 watts for each 20 amp circuit and 1440 for each 15 amp.  With all the "high-efficacy" lighting we have now, it's probably pretty minimal.

As far as appliances, you add up the loads of all the permanently installed items.  Don't forget electric heat, a biggy.  But, other than heat, there's probably not much.

I would recommend adding one more 20 amp circuit for plugging in heavy loads, like vacuums, and etc.  If I was building a layout room from scratch, I'd have the receptacles on this circuit be a different color than all the others.  

 

Oh, yeah.  I've been an electrical contractor for almost 40 years.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 8:40 PM

I'm kinda thinking you should find an electrician buddy to help you.  A licensed one perferred.

All my layout stuff is on one 15 amp breaker, and the lighting is on another, way more than enough.  Usually, but maybe not always, lighting is seperate from outlets.

But I do NOT have a room filling layout, but I do have a couple of extra outlets in other areas of the basement room my layout is in.

Mike.

EDIT:  I just read through Ed's post again, and if your going to need the electric space heater things to warm things up when it's extra cold,  that is a biggy.

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 10:10 PM

One other thing:

Look at that room yer gonna build for your trains.  Pretend you're someone coming in who doesn't give a (x) about trains, but might buy your house.

Does the electrical layout in that room suit the needs of this unfeeling, soul-less, imitation of a human (but rich enough to buy your house)?

Just a thought.

 

Ed

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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:56 AM

 Given how frequently we need outlets (usually more than the standard - but not necessarily more than the standard capacity), most former train rooms would appeal more in that regard to prospective future buyers. Don't have to be rich to afford my house - bank said I could afford a much bigger house, but the heck with that, I need money left over to buy trains. I don't want a bigger house, just a bigger basement. If I didn't also like my cars so much, I'd have a MUCH bigger basement by extending into the garage.

 My workbench i upstairs, as soon as I finish the other half that will be the trains part. Oh yeah, also coming off that new panel will be a couple of circuits in this bedroom which we use as the office/workshop. I'm already pushing it with 4 computers and my electronics workbench, so I am going to run one dedicated 20 amp for my server and my main desktop (and the laser printer), and another for the workbench, which covers the electronic and moodel building tools plus the workbench computer, leaving the old existing room circuit for my gf's desk which just has a single computer. ANd place to plug the vac intoo, although there won;t be much to vac when we're done, this is the last room left we didn't pull the carpet out of, there's real hardwood floors under here. May end up with small squares in places - hauling the electronics bench and my desk out of here are next to impossible.

 And moost wood cutting using the larger saws will be done outside or in the garage, not in the train room. Most I expect to run in there is a small airbrush compressoor and a handheld jigsaw. 

 I COULD do all the wiring, but I suspect the previous owner just did random stuff and never had a proper inspection, so I am having a licensed electrician do at least the final finish work. I will do a lot of the grunt work myself once the new stud walls are up and just have the electrician finalize things and make sure it's all correct for the inspector.

                                                      --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by MGAMike on Thursday, May 10, 2018 8:45 AM

Thanks Everyone!!  Good things to keep in mind here!

I guess one thing I am curious about is how much power my power packs will draw from the wall outlet.  The MRC Tech 6 says that it can supply 6 amps of DC power, but what will the translate to in terms of 110V wall amperage?  

I already know my HVAC requirements for the room and the lighting and applicance needs, so if I can determine my layout amperage needs, then I will know how large of service to run to my new breaker box in my new room.

Thanks!!

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Posted by nealknows on Thursday, May 10, 2018 10:54 AM

7j43k

One other thing:

Look at that room yer gonna build for your trains.  Pretend you're someone coming in who doesn't give a (x) about trains, but might buy your house.

Does the electrical layout in that room suit the needs of this unfeeling, soul-less, imitation of a human (but rich enough to buy your house)?

Just a thought.

 

Ed

Ed hit the nail on the head (sorry for the pun). When I built my train room, I had it designed with the room to be used for purposes other than my trains. It's a 20'x20' room with a slider door to the outside deck. a Trey ceiling with high hat lights using CFL bulbs. 4 rows of four and each on its own switch. I probably had the electrician add a few more outlets than he normally would in a room that size, but most people don't count electrical sockets (OK, maybe some do..). When I show the room to friends they asked where the pool table is going, so down the road when it is a great rec or entertainment room. 

Neal

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Posted by Ladder1 on Thursday, May 10, 2018 9:10 PM

When finishing the basement for the railroad.  Put the railroad on one circuit with its own switch.  Lights on another circut with its own switch, and wall outlets, on there own switch.  When leaving the train room, flip the switchs and all the power is dead.  Very handy.

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Posted by wvg_ca on Thursday, May 10, 2018 10:58 PM

MGAMike

I guess one thing I am curious about is how much power my power packs will draw from the wall outlet.  The MRC Tech 6 says that it can supply 6 amps of DC power, but what will the translate to in terms of 110V wall amperage? 

 

at 15 volt , 6 amps is 90 watt, less than 1 amp of 110 power , at maximium, each pack would draw the same ..

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Posted by bearman on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 12:56 PM

MGAMike, check your local building codes and have a licensed electrician do the work.  My guess, and it is just a guess, is that a 15 amp circuit would be plenty.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 6:22 PM

Hello all,

As a retired electrician this IS a job for an electrician!

Yes, there is a national electrical code but each state, county and municipalities make changes or adopt stricter standards in many cases. 

How about GFI requirements?

When designing electrical panels electricians build in "head room". No, that doesn't mean extra space so they don't bump their noggin.

Your service panel and breakers are rated in Amps. Many electrical components are rated in watts.

I am assuming (yes I know what happens when you...) you are tapping off a north American power grid; 110V @ 60Hz.

To figure the amperage draw you need to divide the wattage by the voltage (500w/110V=4.6A±0.1A)

How many phases are available in your area?

I was working on a house and the wife decided to add a ceramics studio!

The kiln she wanted was 3-phase. In this particular neighborhood the power company had to run a third phase from another location.

When she found out about the delay time to pull the service she went with a single phase unit.

The pottery wheel needed 220v and had a peak load at startup of over 40A it's running load was 5A. That required a 60A/220V service on it's own.

Startup, running, peak and surge loads from automatic fans, refrigerators and other appliances need to be factored in as well. 

Will this be a "Green Acres Kitchen" scenario- -You can only run the trains when the washer/dryer is off. 

What can the power company provide?

In some areas the power company can only "expand" an existing service so much before you need an additional service and panel. 

All of these questions, and more, can be answered by a qualified electrician.

By using the formulae I listed you can estimate your potential power load. I would add 20% for headroom.

This will give you a ball-park figure but I would still run the numbers by a qualified and licensed electrician in your area. 

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by BRUCE E ROBINSON on Thursday, May 17, 2018 4:27 PM

I read these questions with a lot of interest a a lot of caution. PLEASE hire a professional that knows how to do the calculations and required sizing of electrical equipment.

 

The comment from "electricians with 40 years experience" are chilling. All electrical installation work is governed by the National Electrical Code throughout the US and the sizing of equipment (panelboards, circuit breakers, wire, wiring devices, etc.) is determined by mandated calculations. You can not "put as many outlets as you want" on an electrical circuit. The number of devices is determined by circuirt breaker/wire size. On a 20amp circuit it is 10 and on a 15 amp circuit it is 8. There is also a maxium distance between outlets that comes into play.

 

The project you described is not complicated but should be done by a professional designer and go through the local inspection process before the new system is accepted and used.

 

I base my comments on working as an electrical engineer for over 40 years. Please head this advise and do the right thing.

 

Bruce

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Posted by joe323 on Friday, May 18, 2018 6:32 AM

I might be a bit off here but I would have a licensed professional do the estimating bearing in mind that its not just the layout you have to think about what about your workbench? Compute? Cell Phone Charger etc. 

Joe Staten Island West 

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