Lionel Trains: Power & Control logo

Lionel Power and Power Controllers!​

Since Lionel’s beginning in 1900, every train has been powered by electricity. In order for your locomotives to run, they need to be powered by a transformer or wall pack that connects directly to the track. Lionel offers many power options that fit your model railroading needs.

There are 3 tiers to layout power that are determined by your layout’s needs:

Entry-level #

This includes DC wall-packs and the AC-powered CW80. These transformers are perfect for those starting in the hobby, operating only a couple of trains at one time. The CW80 is also the perfect transformer for powering a layout’s accessories.

Mid-Tier #

For those with moderate-sized layouts looking to expand on a budget, the PowerHouse 180 and GW180 are perfect power upgrades to run numerous locomotives at time. The PowerHouse 180 is designed for command-controlled layouts where power is either on or off. The GW180 gives conventional control of a PowerHouse 180 and also provides a separate constant-voltage accessory output.

Both products output AC power.

High-end #

The top-tier transformer product is the ZW-L. This transformer was designed to meet any and all model train layout needs. This product outputs AC power.

What do I need? #

The following chart lists example train layouts and recommended power products to meet those needs.

Example LayoutPower Recommendation
Loop of track around a Christmas tree with a single engine, 1 to 2 operating/lighted accessories-DC Wall Pack included with Ready-to-Run set
-72W DC Wall Pack
Small-sized layout: 1 to 2 powered switches, 1 to 3 engines, 1 to 3 operating/lighted accessories-72W DC Wall Pack
Medium-sized layout: 1 to 8 powered switches, 1 to 7 engines, 1 to 8 accessories-PH180
Large-sized layout: 8+ switches, 8+ engines, 8+ operating/lighted accessories-2+ PH180
-2+ GW180
Accessory power only (bus line): 1 to 9 powered switches and/or operating/lighted accessoriesCW80
Accessory power only (bus line): 10+ powered switches and/or operating/lighted accessoriesGW180
Power Needs Chart

Note: for connecting accessories to power, we recommend the Plug-Expand-Play system. 

Updated on August 28, 2023