What System Do I need?

People often get confused between layout size and power capacity. The size of your layout has an impact on the actual wire size and wiring practices you use when building your layout. To read more about wiring go here:

DCC Systems are selected based on needs of locomotive capacity and operator capacity. The general rule of thumb is for HO scale locos use .5 amps per loco, in N-scale use .25 amps per loco. You only count the number of locos being used, not parked.

The Power Cab is a complete self contained starter set with 2 amp capacity /13.8v. the Power Cab is suitable for Z, N, HO, S, and On3 scales. Using the numbers above we can guesstimate that the Power Cab has the capacity for 4 HO-scale locomotives or 8 N-scale locomotives running at the same time. For more reading on How many locos?  Read this. You can add up to 3 additional cabs of any kind for more operators or locations.

The second step after is that you add the SB5 5 amp Smartbooster. This increases your capacity from 2 to 5 amps of power. It increases the amount of cabs that can be used from 4 to 6. You also have the ability for true walk around control using Universal Throttle Panels (UTP). For even more power you add DB5 boosters as needed. This is an incremental approach with less initial cost but more total expense.

If you know upfront you will need 5 amps or more of capacity, need more than four cabs, or wireless is a requirement, the best place to start is with the PH-Pro 5 amp starter set. Then add 5 amp boosters (PB5) for more capacity as needed.

Your layout should be divided up into power districts and have short circuit protection. For the Power Cab use a CP6. For any 5 amp system use a CP6 or an EB1. go here to learn more

Do not attempt to run any O-scale or G-scale equipment with the Power Cab!


More Information for Larger scales:

With O and G-scale the discussion involves voltage settings AND current capacity. The combined values of both is what gives you the power to run larger equipment. Most O and G-scale equipment is designed to be used at a minimum of 18 volts. 

You will need to know the recommended track voltage for your equipment and the total current capacity needed for all locomotives.

The Powercab is a 13.8V / 2amp / 24 watt system. It is completely unsuitable for any large scale equipment regardless of size.

The Ph-Pro 5amp System is 5amp system. The maximum power supply that can be used is 16VAC / 28VDC. The output of the box can be adjusted to as high as 22 volts and will run large scale equipment with the right power supply. If you use our P515 5amp power supply that will get you what you need.
The PH-Pro box comes preset for an output of 14v but using the dial to adjust the output between 18v and 22v is a simple matter.

Be aware that increasing the voltage output reduces the current capacity below 5 amps.

It is simple multiplication:  The official system rating: 15v / 5 amps = 75 watts of power. 
using 18v output reduces the current capacity to 4.16 amps
using 20v output reduces the current capacity to 3.75 amps
using 22v output reduces the current capacity to 3.4 amps

Do not attempt to run any O-scale or G-scale equipment with the Power Cab!  

For information on the 10 amp system:

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