What voltage do HO scale trains run on?

What’s the right voltage for HO scale model railroads and trains?

HO Scale trains are hugely popular the world over, especially on American model railroads, and while very similar to other scales they have a slightly different voltage requirement.

While other smaller scales run at 10 to 12Volts, HO is designed for 14V.

This is because they have slightly bigger motors and need more power.

On the controller of a typical HO railroad (as they’re better known in America), turning the throttle up increases the voltage from 0Volts when it’s stationary to 14Volts when the locomotive will go flat out.

Using higher voltages will cause the motor to heat up and possibly burn out.

The best way of ensuring you don’t over supply and damage your trains is to use a transformer and controller provided by the manufacturer (Atlas, Athearn, Bowser, Kato or Walthers) or one of the excellent units made by Gauge Master in the UK. I have no links to them but having used them over many years I’ve come to trust them and now recommend them for N, OO and HO scale model railways. See the lastest prices on Gauge Master controllers.

> 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.

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