What’s the best voltage for N scale trains to run on?
They may be small but inside every model train is a motor that needs electricity.
And for DC models, the ideal and maximum voltage for N scale is 12V, with 10V being the recommended.
In DC trains, electricity is passed pass from the rails, through the wheels to the motor. As you turn the dial on the controller up, increasing the voltage, the motor runs faster, increasing the speed of the train. Turning the dial down has the opposite effect.
At peak, a controller designed for N scale will send a most 12V, which is what the motors in the trains are rated for. Any more than this may damage them.
Any less, as they will run slower until they stop.
This is a defined international standard, set by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) in America and in the Normen Europäischer Modellbahnen aka NEM (“European Standards for Railway Modelling”) standards managed by the European model railway association — MOROP.
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 (Graham Farish, Bachmann or Kato) or one of the excellent units made by Gauge Master. 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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