Other Interior Lights
Besides Kato, there is another standard light design for car interiors used by Greenmax, MicroAce, and Tomix. These come in a variety of forms, but for the most part this breaks down into “narrow” and “wide”. Unlike the Kato units, you order different models if you want “white” (meaning it looks like fluorescent) or something that looks more like an incandescent light. Many cars in use until the end of the twentieth-century still used older incandescent lighting (and some loco-hauled trains may still do so, although I think the EMUs in service today are all fluorescent designs).
All of these follow a common design: a clear plastic prism that runs the length of the roof, with two springs at one end that stick down through circular holes in the floor to contact the under-floor metal strips that run between the trucks to collect power. At the “spring” end of the prism, a circuit board on the back provides light the either a bulb or LED mounted at the middle of the prism (perhaps more than one with LEDs). Length can be adjusted by snapping off sections of the prism at the non-spring end, similar to adjusting the Kato lighting strip.
As none of these manufacturers provide DCC and the trains are designed to run on systems with DC power at no more than 12V (and many Japanese N-scale packs are limited to 10V or less), operating these on DCC may be a bad idea. Further, because of the way the springs are used as both collector and support, inserting a dropping resistor into the circuit seems problematic.
Manufacturer Lighting Kits
Micro Ace and Tomix make their own lighting kits. Greenmax notes compatibility with Tomix lighting kits on some of their models.
A typical lightboard (of the MicroAce G0003/G0004 type)
Micro Ace makes two major types of light, narrow and wide, and variants of each in “white” and “lamp color”. All of the ones currently available are LED-based.
G0001 - Wide, Lamp Color, LED, 2-pack
G0002 - Wide, Lamp Color, LED, 6-pack
G0003 - Wide, White Color, LED, 2-pack
G0004 - Wide, White Color, LED, 6-pack
G0005 - Narrow, Lamp Color, LED, 2-pack
G0006 - Narrow, Lamp Color, LED, 6-pack
G0007 - Narrow, White Color, LED, 2-pack
G0008 - Narrow, White Color, LED, 6-pack
The choice of narrow/wide is dictated by the model. The choice of color depends on era, with white being used for more modern cars with fluorescent LEDs. However, the list supplied with each model lists all four lights that are physically compatible, without providing guidance on the color to use.
Tomix has several styles, designated A, B, and C (plus other speciality lighting units). An “L” prefix (e.g., “LC”) appears to indicate the use of LEDs but I’m not entirely certain of that. The “B” units appear to use a shorter spring, for the higher floors in a motor car.
I don’t own any of these, and the online info I’ve found so far is a bit sparse. Items marked with a question-mark below are my best guess. Note that ones marked “25mA” appear to always be LED units, and ones marked “60mA” use bulbs, but I’m suspicious of 0755/0766 as they were marked “60mA” but have the “L” prefix I thought meant “LED”.
0731 - C, White, (details unclear)
0732 - C, “Bulb-color”, (details unclear)
0733 - LC, White, Narrow?, Single, 25mA (LED)
0734 - LC, Incandescent-Like, Narrow?, Single, LED (25mA?)
0735 - C, White, Narrow?, 6-pack
0736 - C, “Bulb-color”, Narrow?, 6-pack
0737 - LC, White, Narrow?, 6-pack, 25mA
0751 - B, Normal, Wide, Single, 60mA
0752 - B, Normal, Wide, Single, 60mA
0755 - LA, Normal, Narrow, Single, 60mA
0756 - LB, Normal, Narrow, Single, 60mA
0786 - LC, White, Single (production cancelled)
0796 - LA, ?, Narrow?. 6-pack, 60mA
0798 - LC, White, 6-pack (production cancelled)
Tomix’s “CL” units are designed to light based on high-frequency AC superimposed on a normal DC track by a “Constant Lighting” power pack. It’s probably not a good idea to use these with DCC.
0781 - A, CL (Constant Lighting) appears to be a wide, bulb-based unit, Single
0782 - B, CL (Constant Lighting) wide bulb-based unit for a variety of trains
0783 - LA, CL (Constant Lighting) appears to be a narrow, bulb-based unit, Single, 60mA
0784 - LB, CL (Constant Lighting) appears to be a narrow, bulb-based unit, Single, 60mA
0788 - CL (Constant Lighting) for KiHa 130, Single (out of production)
0792 - Set of 11 bulb-based wide lights for Odakyu 10000 HiSE
Third-party Lighting Kits
These claim compatibility with Tomix and MicroAce cars.
These claim to be designed to provide even illumination the length of a Shinkansen car, but can be used in 20m cars (typical commuter size) by cutting off some of the prisms.
F5001 - Narrow, White, LED, Single
F5002 - Wide, White, LED, Single
F5003 - Narrow, Orange, LED, Single
F5004 - Wide, Orange, LED, Single
F5005 - Narrow, White, LED, 10-pack
F5006 - Wide, White, LED, 10-pack
F5007 - Narrow, Orange, LED, 10-pack
F5008 - Wide, Orange, LED, 10-pack