Model trains are a beloved hobby for many people around the world, and for good reason. Building and maintaining a model train setup can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, allowing you to create a miniature version of the real world and watch your trains come to life.


However, running AC model trains (meaning, where transformers are the power source) can also present some technical challenges outside the USA.


In this article, we explore how frequency converters can improve the way the train transformer operates outside the USA, given that many of these train transformers were designed to operate ONLY in the USA.  We will show you that by literally adding a local US “power station” to your setup will greatly enhance your model railroading experience outside the USA.


Model Train Setup


What’s the problem?  As an example, model railroad train transformers designed for use in the United States typically have a 115V AC 60Hz power requirement. If the system’s train transformer is run in Europe with a step-down transformer alone “in front” of it (converting only voltage from 230V to 115V AC at a frequency of 50 Hz), it may not operate as intended. The train transformer, when operated at the lower frequency, can and will begin to “saturate” and when it does, it may very seriously overheat. To compensate for this, it’s often recommended that the voltage into the train transformer be lowered perhaps 20% (to about 95V AC or so). Unfortunately, this leaves insufficient power to drive the locomotive and accessories, leading to numerous malfunctions.


The other potential (actually, inevitable) malfunction is due to the choice of step-down transformer used “in front” of the train transformer.  There isn’t a worthwhile or economical “regulated output” transformer out there.  And certainly the ultra poor quality “import” transformers available from distributors with jungle rainforest names should NEVER be considered as a solution due to their poor design, tendency to overheat, and lack of any valid safety certifications.


There is also a “group” of folks who will say “well, we can build an inverter and a power supply and slap them together to do this.  Possibly, but at what additional risk?  We have a blog that covers that issue here; give it a read.  Are you a model railroading train enthusiast or competent power engineer?  Probably the former.  And if you don’t know what you are doing, you are back to juggling safety concerns as well as potential damage to your setup.


Using KCC Scientific converters avoids these malfunctions and downsides.  Let us take care of the engineering for you; that way you can focus on the model railroading–the fun part.


Model Train Setup



In conclusion, frequency converters offer a wide range of benefits for model train enthusiasts operating USA-designed AC train systems outside of the USA.  If you are operating a USA-designed model train system outside the USA, consider upgrading your model train setup using frequency converters to take your model trains to the next level.


Hercules Frequency Converter

KCC Scientific has just the models you’re looking for. Check out our 200 Watt Hercules Voltage and Frequency Converter right here.