Marquees: Who provides the power?

In marquee hire there are a few common problems you face – one is the question of who provides the power? I’m not thinking of your lighting (as obviously you’ve got to run that power supply) but what happens when the DJ turns round and says where’s his power? Or the caterer, or the bar..

Mal at Premier Party Tent faced exactly this issue recently and to be honest it is a little tricky. You can’t be expected to wire up the marquee like a factory with sockets anywhere required but at the same time most customers would expect the marquee man/lady to sort everything out.

So, what’s the solution?

My suggestion is to sort it out in advance. When you take the booking ask the customer if there are going to be any other power requirements, if so how much power do they need? You then charge a set amount per extension lead.

If you leave it until you’re on site it could look like you’re trying to subtly get the bill up a bit (this never ends well) or you may feel obliged to provide them for free (unless it’s in exchange for tea or food this isn’t so good either).

There’s a few things to note about power:

  • One extension lead can take up to 3KW of power, this is normally enough for a DJ or bar but rarely for caterers. Tea Urns are 3KW each and often they’ll have 2 of those plus ovens etc so consider a generator or getting an electrician to connect a large supply across for large events.
  • You shouldn’t be running more than 3 or 4 extension leads from a house, any more and consider a generator or an electrician. Also when running several power leads plug them in to different areas of a house so they’re on different circuits.
  • A long extension lead from Wickes etc is quite cheap but long term you really want to be using blue arctic cable leads with 16amp connectors. The connectors are splashproof so you can leave them outside as long as they’re not on the ground and you just daisy chain leads together – terminate the lead with a 4-way standard 13amp socket adapter for the bar/DJ and plug in to the house using a 13 amp plug with an RCD to a 16amp connector.
  • If you don’t have RCD’s built in to your leads buy some adapters for them, these protect anyone if a cable’s cut through. These really are a must in the marquee hire industry.

If you’ve got the right kit then running power to a marquee is easy though not hugely lucrative. If you’re scratching round getting different extension leads and trying to weatherproof a normal 13am reel extension lead then it can be a bit of a nightmare.

Ask your customer their power needs in advance and charge for your work.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

PS the marquee and some red, green and honeybeige once used carpet is on eBay (there’ll be more carpet to follow).

  • jamesmo

    Hi Spencer,

    when would you use a distribution board? or would you leave this to a generator hire people/when the power requirements are higher?

  • diymarquees

    Hi James,

    Any kind of distribution board needs a large power supply/feed, generally 32 or 63 amps. The most you can take from a standard household socket is 13amps (ie one standard extension lead) so to connect up a distribution board you need to either use a generator or get an electrician to connect it directly in to a customers household consumer unit.
    I hope that makes sense!

  • BryK

    We don't use RCD's with our marquees. Tried them but they kept nuisance tripping or clients didn't understand how to reset them. Houses have their own RCD's anyway so no point.
    Agree that for big events just get a generator in, let them deal with it. We always leave a jerry of diesel for the client which we learnt from experience.

  • knowall01

    We recently held a party for our parents anniversary and if you’re looking for Event Marquee Hire then Charlesworth Marquee Hire are the ones you should contact!

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