Advice On Fuse Protection For Entire Model Railroad

Hardcoaler Oct 3, 2021

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I need some advice on providing fuse protection for my model railroad. I've installed a small main power control toggle switch in my control panel rated at 6 Amps @ 125 VAC which I think should be sufficient. As listed below, my three power supplies will draw 2.4 Amps total. The toggle switch matches the others in appearance used in the panel. It looks nice and I'd like to keep it if I can.

    If my toggle switch fails or one of my supply wires shorts on the 110 VAC side, will the household 15A breaker protect my house?

    For a margin of safety, can I add a simple fast-acting 5 Amp glass fuse as shown here?

    Fuse Diagram.jpg

    The railroad is a modestly-sized N Scale railroad that will use three power supplies:

    1 - Kato Power Pack = 110 VAC / 0.8 Amp In, 13.5 DC / 1.5 Amp Out
    2 - Power Supply 1 = 110 VAC / 0.8 Amp In, 12.0 DC / 3.0 Amp Out
    3 - Power Supply 1 = 110 VAC / 0.8 Amp In, 12.0 DC / 3.0 Amp Out

    I'll try to remember to unplug the railroad when I'm not using it, but I'm worried about the hazard if I forget. Perhaps I'm worried about nothing or perhaps there's another way to handle this. Thanks y'all.
     
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  2. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Just some thoughts...
    Since all the electronics is underneath my layout, always had a tough time knowing whether power on or not during construction, so drilled a hole in the foam and installed a temp led light with series resistor to 12V supply until structures are complete so as to know when power on. A foam hole is so easy to patch so didn't care in addition to possibly ending up where a lit structure may will be. If structures are in the future controlled by DCC, then I'll take System Power On LED from the Pi's GPIO. Using 1 12V 5A supply with a barrel connector that plugs into the mate barrel connector mounted on side of layout frame. I like breaker and surge protection( especially here in FL) and the 12V 5A supply AC plugs into that.

    Curious, your first question.. How are you "plugging In" the Kato and 2 other power packs to the main AC In as shown in the diagram? A surge protector, mounted near power supplies, with "breaker" protection, safety switch and distribution for all 3 power supplies would still allow using the panel toggle (in series). How are you planning to "tie" the 3 supplies together for AC input?
     
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  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Good idea on adding a highly visible power on light and on finding a power strip that would provide safety measures. I also thought about replacing the wall outlet with a GFI outlet for super-sensitivity. From what I read, the things you plug into a GFI outlet don't need grounding plugs to be protected -- hair dryers, electric razors and the like. (the GFI outlet itself would have a ground) So, I'm thinking that if there's trouble of any kind with my power supply master circuit, the GFI would trip in an instant.

    Yes, the Kato and the other two power supplies will be supplied by 110 VAC power, all three controlled through my one toggle switch. My diagram wasn't clear on this.
     
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  4. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Once going to DCC in May, and with the Pi, booster and Arduino mounted underneath, looking under layout to see if system was on or off was too much..... Plus, I'm kinda of a nut for following proper startup and shutdown sequence with electronics

    Like good power protection and typically use either APC or Cyberpower UPS's or Surge Protectors (1000-2500 joules + they offer breaker protection too.) If for some reason the input transformer to the power supply shorts or is shorted, the breaker inside surge protector will activate and if that fails, presumably the house circuit breaker will trip.

    Can't see how GFI can hurt though thought it tends to be used more when electrical circuits-devices are operated in areas subject to moisture and/or water and to reduce chances of shock. Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) might be something to consider to protect against fire. Not knowing any of your particulars, just wanted to throw it out there...
     
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  5. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    These are some excellent solutions guys and I really appreciate the suggestions. I didn't know that power strips were made that also protected on the output side and the remote switch on Point's suggestion is perfect. At 60+ years old, I'm less inclined to get down on my hands and knees to tend to a switch every time I run the railroad. The switch would be a cinch to conveniently mount.

    Again, great ideas here. Thanks!
     
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  7. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    That one, the Isobar, is really nice especially with remote switch. A little too heavy duty and expensive for a small layout like mine.

    As an alternative... Guess it can mount underneath layout or on side frame, close to control panel, to keep switch well above floor level too. My frame members only 1x2s so wouldn't work for me. The surge protector is mounted on one of the layout build jig legs, up about 2' from floor level to avoid the bending. .. It offers breaker protection too.

    https://www.apc.com/shop/us/en/prod...et-with-Phone-Splitter-Protection-120V/P-P8T3
     
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  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    As I looked at Tripp-Lite's products this afternoon, I thought of that option too. Their IBAR4 is affordable, has four outlets and keyhole slots in the back for ease in mounting. It's 2-1/2" Deep. I have 2" hidden by fascia under the layout, so it'd hang down below the edge 1/2". Not too bad. If I wanted to get into it, I could cut a rectangle in the HCD bottom to recess the housing.

    upload_2021-10-4_20-54-6.png
    I'll check APC's products next ......
     
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  9. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    That one is nice too especially if it fits better. Gee, if the HCD door was a little thicker.. Recessing the housing is definitely something to explore..
     
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  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, your household circuit breakers protect your house wiring (in the walls) and the outlets/switches hard-wired to them.

    If your power supplies are UL rated (or similarly for your country), then the power supplies incorporate features to also protect their supply cord and plug from failures in the supply or downstream thereof. However, that protection does not cover mechanical damage (e.g. abrasion/cutting) and resulting short circuit in the power supply's AC cord/plug. It is quite unlikely that such damage could draw enough current to cause a fire, and yet not enough to trip the circuit breaker for that circuit in your house's breaker panel.

    In a benign environment, the chances of such damage are slim, but we each have our own thresholds of allowable risk. Think of it this way: your table and floor lamps in your house have this exact same vulnerability.
     
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  11. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    If the remote switch feature is not essential, then you have many more options available in outlet strips.
    Belkin is another brand to consider: https://www.belkin.com/us/chargers/surge-protectors/c/home-office/
     
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  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I like the remote switch a lot, but they offer it only on an eight outlet model. Thanks for the links to these manufacturers. Their sites are very informative and their products appear to be a cut above the products found at most retailers.
     
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  13. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I just checked the Kato pack and my power supplies and all are UL Rated, so that's a comfort. I'm no doubt overreacting to the risk of my 6 Amp master power panel switch (as seen here), but I think it'll be sound. If I really want to get crazy, I suppose I could instead have it activate a relay housed within a metal box to handle the 110 VAC switching.

    2021-10-05 DSN Master Power Panel Switch.jpg
     
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  14. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    I use one of these ( actually 2 of them ), for my 2' x 4' layout, but they DO NOT take a 3 prong cord, and the RED switch on mine is not lighted, but my Bachmann EZ Command Controller does light up so I know when it is OFF or ON. Bought extra's on Christmas Clearance back a few years ago. But they are NOT surge protectors, just extensions cords. I think this one from Home Depot lights up? It's $5.88!

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Home-Ac...3jx6jAY158wrCe0w6YRoC8RsQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    I actually use my foot to turn it OFF & ON! Really cool and cheap! I think I got mine for $1.99 each! We also use them a lot at Christmas time, so I have about 6-8 of them :)

    Once again, NOT A SURGE PROTECTOR!
     
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  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks in2tech. This is embarrassing, but we use one of these for our Christmas tree lights! I never thought of using one of these in my application.

    I really appreciate everyone's input. I now have options I'd have otherwise never known about and I can certainly find a solution amongst them all. (y)
     
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  16. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Hi, you mentioned having a 2x4 layout which is what I have too. If you have handy, would love to see pic of the track layout. .
     
  17. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Regardless of which way you go, I'd still suggest some surge protection.

    When the layout is in coffee table mode, using;

    https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/product/surge/professional/p600wu/

    and

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y1V7C1Q?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

    These are great for disconnecting devices without switch. Use to "truly" shut off and protect devices when storms or other AC power issues exist.
     
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  18. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Added the link to my Signature, Have to put up some recent pictures. I'll do that later today! Thanks

    @Hardcoaler You can also use a combo, surge protector & Christmas cord :) Let us now what you decide in the end?
     
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  19. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Looks very nice! Curious about the frame work and foam board so followed the whole thread.

    HD sells 1/4 2x4 ply which is over my frame. Had no choice since using 1x2s for frame and needed bottom side for attaching things. Thought about going to the 2x2 pieces pink foam from HD that you have in the picture but bought the thinner 4x8 sheet. Used some for sub terrain and a layout cover and actually have less than 25% left. If you were to build another 2x4, would you do anything different?
     
  20. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    The GFI would be a great idea in protection, I like that idea better than a fuse. A 5 amp input fuse may not be enough during the initial start up as inrush current into the power supplies can spike that current for a second or so as the capacitors charge. Once they are charged the overall draw will be minimal.

    Also be careful of the smaller toggle. A standard home light switch would be a much better choice, or just use the switch from a surge protector or power strip. By using a GFI outlet you wouldn’t need a surge protector type power strip, a standard type like you use for the Xmas lights would be adequate. Just my $.02 into the fountain.
     
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