A Railroad with Relevance

Know Your Own Power

Written By: Alan - Aug• 11•16

Detroit Edison (DTE) is currently running an ad campaign with the phrase
“Know Your Own Power.”


Recently DTE replaced our old meter with a new digital version. Its display cycles through various readings one of which is current consumption. With such a handy feature on the meter I decided to get to Know My Own Trains Power. Here is the new meter with the air conditioner, three computers, several monitors, a few lights, and assorted clocks and wall warts – 4.78kW.


I asked my wife to turn on the layout and all of the layout lighting while I watched the meter. A little subtraction and I have my answer:


The railroad consumes 1972 watts of power. Let’s round that to 2000 watts. Now I know whenever I am playing with trains it is the same as having 20 – 100W incandescent light bulbs on at the same time. Incidentally, about ยฝ the amount of electricity the air conditioning uses. At current DTE residential rates it works out to about $0.30/hour to play with trains. That’s a lot of fun for 30ยข an hour!


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  1. John McNamee says:


  2. Clark Cone says:

    Hi Alan – curious as to when you say “turn on the layout and all the layout lighting…” is that just one train running? any train(s) running?…

  3. alan says:

    One train running.

  4. David Oyler says:

    And hence, the dichotomy: a hobby that requires an enormous expense in time and materials (at least at this scale of a project), yet dirt cheap to operate! “But, honey once it’s built, it’ll only cost pennies to run”! thats my justification, anyway.

  5. alan says:

    My wife’s hobby is horses. Trains are cheap. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Rob Dove says:

    they are lots less work too, horses like nearly any living thing are almost like a second job as they all need lots of care and feeding. Nothing against animals but one must realize how much work they are. Obviously you do but some folks do not realize how much work is involved every day.

  7. alan says:

    Worth every cent and every hour. They are majestic animals. My wife and I both derive great pleasure from having them. However, you are spot on Rob. Unlike trains, you can’t simply turn the lights off and leave when you are done playing. They truly are a no option every day all day rain or shine care and maintenance responsibility. And to think some hobbyists complain about cleaning track every once in a while!

  8. Jason Miller says:

    30c an hour! What a bargain for so much fun… Now back to building the layout. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜†

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