Archive for the ‘marquee electrics’ Category

PAT testing in marquees

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

As I posted a little while ago if you’ve got electrical equipment (anything with a plug) then it should be PAT tested annually. This is from Louise at Essential Supplies:

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After the success of our 2009 PAT Testing Courses we have arranged some dates for 2010. They will be held in March, we have availability on the 2nd and 10th of March and limited availability on the 9th March. The location will be confirmed when we have numbers, but will be in the Basingstoke area.picture1.gif

THE COURSE

The aim of our one day ‘practical’ workshop is to obtain an understanding of why PAT Testing is necessary and be able to demonstrate safely and accurately all aspects of electrical testing necessary to perform PAT tests on your own or other peoples electrical equipment.

The course is designed for those within the events industry, although the testing techniques learnt can be used in any industry. You will be shown how to PAT test a wide range of our products from extension leads to metal light fittings and from simple distribution boards to power tools. There will be a maximum of four delegates per day, to ensure you get the most out of the course.

If you have already purchased a PAT tester you are welcome to bring it along to ensure that you get the best from it. Alternatively we will give you advice on testers to buy.


Price £220.00 per delegate (+ VAT)

Course fees include:

The official IET guide: code of practise for in service inspection and testing of electrical equipment. This is a complete reference for you.

Training at customer’s site shall be subject to extra transport costs.

To sign up…

call: 0800 0432 123

sales@essentialsupplies.co.uk

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I’m not making any money from this recommendation (although a pint at the showmans show wouldn’t go amiss Louise..) and I’d like to point out that others can offer PAT testing training but it’s a lot easier if you’re on a marquee orientated course with like minded marquee people (we’re an odd bunch after all). As I pointed out before it could turn in to a lucrative winter sideline for those quieter months.

Thanks for reading

Spencer.

Marquee electrics need PAT testing annually

Monday, January 25th, 2010

If you’re hiring out electrical marquee equipment (anything with a plug on -including extension leads) then it should be PAT (portable appliance test) tested at least every year. It doesn’t cost much, an electrician would normally charge around £3-6 per item (which can add up if you’ve got a lot of equipment). They then label it up as tested and a retest date in a year (or less if recommended).

For all those small businesses out there that struggle a bit during the winter, why not take a PAT testing course (£160-£250), buy a PAT tester and set yourself up a sideline for the winter?

It’s very easy work, once you get a contract with a company you can normally rely on going back the following year and doing it again so it’s just building up a list of contracts. You can target fellow marquee companies but remember – every company should be doing this every year but most don’t. Just target your local companies pointing out that this is a requirement if they didn’t already know and away you go, a nice winter sideline. You don’t need to be a fully qualified electrician to do this just take the 1 or 2 day course.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Problems with power to a marquee

Friday, September 18th, 2009

At some point in your marquee erecting career you’ll have a problem with the power supply, generally shown by a lack of available light, lack of music or lack of tea facilities.

What to do?

Golden rule: Start at the power source and work your way to the marquee.

There’s no point dismantling a chandelier looking for a fault only to find the extension lead powering it has accidentally been turned off in the house. Trust me I know as I’ve done it several times (an intelligent person would learn..)

If you’re getting your power from a house using RCD adapter plugs (if you’re not then you should be) then they have little red tabs in the top saying they’re working. No red tab means it’s either tripped (reset it) or there’s no power (house has a power cut) or the fuse has gone (replace it).

Next step is to follow the extension lead across to the marquee – you’re checking to see if it’s been cut through or damaged by a lawn mower/hedge cutter/etc.

Once you get to the marquee end of the extension lead disconnect it from whatever’s plugged in and test it with something you know works (you might need a separate 16amp plug to 13amp socket adapter for this step). Ideally this would be a 13amp socket tester but failing that a radio or hoover. Nothing too valuable in case there’s actually problems with the power supply! If you get power at the socket but not the other end then swap the extension lead.

If you have power then the next step (assuming it’s lighting) is to take the dimmer out -bypass it by connecting the chandeliers straight on to the extension lead. If the chandeliers work then you’ve got a problem with the dimmer (if overloaded they can melt inside which is fatal for them. Remember maximum two 5-arm chandeliers per dimmer). If the chandeliers still don’t work then you’ve got a problem with one or both of the chandeliers. Take them down and test them individually to see where the fault lies.

Problems with power happen quite regularly, generally it’s nuisance tripping (a bulb blowing) that means resetting the RCD adapter or even the trip inside the house. We test the chandeliers last as they’re furthest from the house and can mean taking down all the linings. It won’t be an early day.

Whilst talking about power it’s worth mentioning that most catering equipment isn’t electrically tested regularly enough so often trips an RCD. If it keeps tripping don’t be tempted to remove the RCD, it’s there to protect people. If there’s faulty equipment it should not be used.

Bottom line:  Always have a 13amp socket tester, a 16amp plug to 13amp socket adapter, a few fuses and a small screwdriver in your van. A torch wouldn’t go a miss either 🙂

An early blog this week as I’m away next week. Yes, yes more holidays than Santa. I’d point out that we’re having another baby in November when all hell will break loose so we’re going away while we can!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee site visits/surveys

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

When you go out to see a customer as well as creating a good impression you obviously need to take a good look at where the marquee’s going.

Ask the customer if there are any underground cables or pipes you should be aware of -if so have them clearly indicated on a diagram. If there aren’t any it’s worth mentioning at the bottom of your quote “you have indicated there are no underground pipes or cables to avoid when erecting the marquee”.

As well as under the marquee you need to look above. Are there any overhead power lines you need to worry about? Generally this is more likely when you’re putting a marquee up in a field rather than a garden but it should be taken seriously as this article from the BBC shows. Now don’t let stories such as this scare you, especially if you’re starting up a marquee hire business. It’s generally only on larger marquees and when you’re swinging 15ft+ poles around that you should be concerned but I’d always recommend contact EDF energy if there’s an overhead power cable nearby just to be sure.

If you’re getting a bit concerned about the things you need to think of when you’re on a site visit (remember you’ve also got to sell a marquee and come up with suggested plans!) then don’t worry – it becomes second nature after a while and it’s worth having a checklist just to make sure. If I can find them I’ll post our  old marquee site visit sheets up here to give you ideas.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

I’m away for the next 2 weeks so the factory will probably be more efficient but there won’t be any blog posts until I’m back, sorry.

Marquees: Who provides the power?

Monday, July 13th, 2009

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).

Marquee Hire Companies and PAT Testing (Portable Appliance Testing)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Most of this is taken (with permission) from our friends at Essential Supplies:

Did you know:

Under HSE guides and Electricity at Work Act you are responsible for the electrical safety of every electrical item your company owns. You must be able to prove that you have adequately tested all your portable electrical equipment whether it is for your own Staff’s use or hired to customers. For most companies this means that once every year all your electrical equipment is PAT tested, by a suitably qualified person. PAT testing companies and electricians commonly charge £2-£4 per item to be tested.
 
Essential Supplies are able to advise and supply you with all the necessary test equipment, teach you or your colleague how to perform PAT tests and record the results. This could lead to you saving a lot of money over the year, and is a great way to keep your staff busy during the quieter winter months. Any equipment needing repair automatically needs a PAT test which you can now carry out instantly after repairs are done making sure that item is safe.

Essential supplies are offering two training courses at their Basingstoke depot:
PAT Testing for marquees and event companies
to be held on Wednesday 11th February  £220.00

Basic Marquee Electrics
to be held on Tuesday 17th February      £180.00

Now as a qualified electrician I can tell you that PAT testing is a dull job, but it needs to be done and if you can save money by doing it yourself rather than paying an electrician then that seems sensible to me.

If you’re new to marquees or just want to gain confidence doing electrics then their basic marquee electrics course might be for you.

Interesting stuff. If you’re interested in going on one of the courses drop Essential supplies a line, I think places may be limited so don’t hang about.
Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee electrics

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Marquee equipment generally doesn’t take much power, but as the marquee contractor you generally take responsibility for supplying power to the Band/DJ, the caterers and anything else the customer may need.

Get your customers power requirements clarified in advance.

Ask them -do they need you to supply power for the DJ? If so please ask him/her how much power they require. -do they need you to supply power for the caterers? Find out how much they need. Do they need power to the Bar?
Quite often they simply won’t know. A DJ will say ‘oh I just need two sockets’. It could mean he/she needs two 3kw leads, or the most likely answer is one 3kw lead is fine as long as it’s got at least two sockets on the end. Caterers will use the most power. One tea urn is 3kw (they often have 2 or 3) plus cookers, plus hot cupboards. Maybe they should watch the celebrity masterchef episode when they’re cooking in the jungle! Anyway, chances are the caterers will need 6-15kw of power.

There’s three options we used when supplying power to a marquee:

1. The easiest method is to use extension leads. We used blue arctic cable connected together using 16 amp plugs (places like Essential Supplies sell these made up)

  • When plugging these in to a house always use an RCD plug even if the house is covered on an RCD anyway -an RCD will trip the power if there is a fault (someone accidentally cutting a cable for example).
  • 1.5mm cable is okay for short runs (up to 15m say) but 2.5mm should be used for longer runs to avoid voltage drop.
  • One cable can supply up to 3kw.
  • If you run two or three cables have them plugging in to different parts of the house so they’re on different circuits (if more than three leads were required we’d use an electrician or generator)

2. Pay an electrician to take a large power supply out to the marquee. We used this a lot but since then Part P has been introduced. This means before installing a temporary supply an electrician must test the whole houses’ electrics to ensure it is suitable. This will get so expensive it’s simply not economic compared to hiring in a generator. If you do go down this route make sure:

  • The electrician is reliable and tidy – his work and attitude will reflect directly on you.
  • There is a fixed cost, you will pass this on to the customer but estimates that escalate leave a bad taste in the mouth for everyone
  • Make sure the customer is going to be in when the electrician arrives. You can put a marquee up while a customer’s out but you can’t connect the electrics.

3. Hire in a generator. It’s good to build up a relationship with at least one generator supplier -all generators are not the same:

  • Make sure you hire a ‘supersilent’ one, these are the quietest (to my knowledge).
  • Make sure the cost includes cabling, distribution board and spare fuel (these are all usually extras)
  • Make sure the spare fuel isn’t left by the exhaust of the generator. Sounds common sense doesn’t it? Apparently not for one of our jobs -I found the plastic cannister melted down on one side with diesel spilling on to the ground. I assume it’s only because diesel doesn’t have the explosive properties of petrol that there wasn’t a big bang!

Getting a generator company who deal with marquees regularly is ideal.

Thanks for reading

Spencer