N and HO scales are the two most common worldwide standards for model trains an common question for those thinking about this wonderful hobby then is which is cheaper.
The answer is undoubtedly that while both are inexpensive to started, N scale is cheaper than HO scale in the long run. However there are some considerations you need to think about.
For starters, the range of N scale models is more restricted than HO.
HO trains and model railways have been around for decades and decades so there’s simply more variety available. And it’s not just the rolling stock that’s in greater numbers. There’s a great variety of buildings, figures and track, in fact every aspect of a layout, available in HO and it’s closely related UK counterpart OO gauge.
Secondly, if you’re thinking of setting up a DCC railway (read what’s the difference between DCC and DC if you’re unsure), N scale is again more limited.
N scale trains are obviously smaller than HO and it’s therefore harder to fit in the additional circurity for DCC into the shell of N scale locomotives. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of DCC N scale trains, it’s just and if you plan on building a DCC layout HO or OO (in the UK) is probably a better path to follow.
You should also read OO Gauge or N gauge where I discuss other some further points about N scale that you should consider.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.