Continuous Load is a rating indicating the maximum load (in Amperes) a multifunction decoder can supply under normal circumstances.
A multifunction decoder's basic specifications may look like this
- Maximum continuous load (amps): 1.1A
- Peak amps: 1.6A
- Number of functions: 4
- Function load (amps): 0.8
The continuous load rating is 1.1A, the peak is 1.6A. The decoder can deliver 1.6A for a brief period of time, but no more than 1.1A under normal conditions. Excessive current will result in excessive heat, shortening the life of the decoder. The motor will be the largest contributor to the load on the decoder. A decoder with these ratings may be suitable for installation in an HO scale vehicle, but not in an O scale application.
A multifunction decoder should be selected so its continuous load is below the maximum rating.
For more information see Ohm's Law.