Accessories Vs Track Power

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:


Your CW-80 starter set pack already has separate terminals for Fixed AC voltage. As you expand your layout, add additional power supplies to add capacity.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Troubleshooting is much easier with isolated systems.
  5. 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: [youtube=]

0 thoughts on “Accessories Vs Track Power

      • Yes. On the underside of the base you’ll see a resistor connected to the center rail. Disconnect the resistor from the rail and connect it to your AC Hot. You can still use the other connection and the outer rail as ground.

  1. Hi. I have a Polar Express O Gauge set with the CW-80 transformer. I have a 252 Crossing gate that works off of track power but I cannot get it to work off the Accessory power. I would like to get it on the fixed voltage for the very reasons that you state in the video. I measure variable 18VAC off the track power posts and fixed 18VAC off the accessory power posts, but for some reason the 252 will only work off the track power. Am I missing something?

    Thx, Walter

  2. Please disregard my previous post. I viewed your video on setting the Accessory power voltage and got the 252 working on the Accessory posts. Thanks!

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