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A Short Bit About me

I'm Spencer King, an ex-marquee erector. This blog is designed to help those running a hire business or thinking of starting. I don't claim to know everything, I'm just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I made! Check out our event planning section for advice on planning your own marquee event. Please contact us if we can help or offer advice in any way.


Marquee electrical problem

A good marquee electrical problem was posted on the forum, unfortunately it was lost in a database error just before the forum closed. I think it’s worth posting here not to scaremonger but to reinforce my post of a couple of weeks ago stating you should only tackle electrical tasks you are confident in.

This was originally posted by Dean from the excellent Style marquee:

We work as health and safety advisors to several venues. I recently turned up to one of these venues to find the marquee supplier (not us I should point out) had run the electrics out from a barn. The barn had a 63amp socket, a 32amp socket and one 13amp socket. They had plugged in to the 32amp socket with an adapter down to a 16amp plug then run a mixture of 2.5mm & 1.5mm blue arctic cable leads to the marquee. This was then supplying the lights, bar, DJ and catering equipment (including tea urns and ovens) for the whole marquee.

Dean then went on to explain how he’d replaced all the electrics to make it safe despite it not being his marquee. His actions almost certainly prevented a major incident.

To explain, the main issues with the set up were:

  • The lead was overloaded. There is far far too much electrical equipment going through a lead of that size.
  • A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, in this case it’s the 1.5mm cable – that’s where the cable would melt/catch fire when everything in that marquee was turned on
  • Lack of protection. The 32amp socket would be protected by a 32amp trip. Fitting an adapter down to 16amp plugs/sockets/leads means those plugs/sockets/leads are going to get damaged before the trip comes in to play.
  • A very minor point compared to the above is the use of arctic cable. Most of the industry still use it but we recommend best practice is to always use 2.5mm HO7 cable for any 13 or 16amp leads

Possible Solution:

Dean was able to run an electrical supply from the 63amp socket out to a distribution board in the marquee that then safely supplied each element of the marquee. This is the best and safest way of supplying everything required in that marquee.

Unless you work at particular venues or run power from generators regularly you are unlikely to have or be trained in this sort of equipment.

If you turn up to a venue like this (and it is rare, usually venues use the same marquee companies repeatedly) with the power requirements listed above and are not sure how to handle it my recommendation is to get an electrician in to handle the electrics and charge that as a service on your quote. If it’s somewhere you’re likely to work at regularly then you may want to go on a course and buy the required equipment yourself (see our friends at Essential Supplies).

Of course if the only power required is your lights then that’s easy to run the extension lead across to plug in to that single 13amp socket and no electrician is required.

Just don’t try and ‘wing it’. There are many areas of marquee erecting where you can make it up as you go along (eg joining to a building, lining an unusual structure) electrics is not one of them.

In summary:

  • Only tackle electrical tasks that you are very confident in carrying out
  • Always check for power supplies at a site visit so everything can be planned in advance
  • Always confirm the power requirements of everyone involved with the event well in advance to avoid being on site and bombarded with last minute power socket requests
  • Only tackle electrical tasks that you are very confident in carrying out

Thanks for reading

Spencer

 

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