>> event planning articles > Marquee electrics
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.
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