Introduction Power generally Generators


The following paragraphs provide some more detailed information about power supplies, but they aren’t exhaustive. If there’s anything that’s not covered, or if you have queries or simply want to investigate a bit further, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

Power generally

If we use our usual lighting and sound rigs, there’s 3kW of lighting and 2kW of sound, which is just over 20A. That’s not a huge amount, a house power supply can provide that easily. It is more than one standard socket, though, so we will need at least two outlets. A standard ring- main can provide 30A, so we shouldn’t cause any problems, though it’s worth bearing in mind that things like kettles and dishwashers take lots of power, too, so if things like that are likely to be in use while we’re playing, make sure they aren’t all on the same circuit. If the nearest available sockets are more than a few metres away, let us know in advance and we can bring some long cables.

In an ideal world, the power, especially for the sound, should be as “clean” as possible — that is, without heaters, catering equipment, floodlights or fluorescent lights etc running from the same supply. Unless we’re playing somewhere like a factory, this is very unlikely to be a problem, but as ever, if you’ve got any concerns, let us know in advance.


We’ll use about 5kW of power, but it’s never a good idea to run a generator flat out (they become very sensitive to small changes in the load, and since we’re flashing lights, the load’s changing all the time), so we need a 6kW supply as a minimum, which is 8.5kVA in the units that generators usually work in. That’s assuming there’s nothing else (background lighting? interval coffee??) that also needs power. That sort of size is likely to be either a small tow or a flat-bed truck to deliver, so you’ll need to make sure there’s access for it to arrive, and somewhere solid for it to stand (they’ve very heavy, and will sink in soft ground!)

The generator needs to provide that power as 240 Volts (which might sound obvious, but a lot of that size of generator is hired for building sites, where 110V is the standard). We could do with knowing the size of socket it uses in advance (only a few days in advance, not urgently — just so we can bring the right plugs!), given the choice, we’d like two, 16A single-phase sockets, but we can bring adapters from most things given a little bit of warning.

Most modern hire generators are pretty good as far as quality of supply goes — though it is worth making the point when hiring it that it’s to supply a PA system, not just lighting.

Generators aren’t as noisy as you think, once they get up to that size, but they are far from silent. They come in various “grades” - for preference, look for one that’s “super silent” (that’s probably the most common, these days). Alternatively, plan on putting it a fair way away (that might be dictated by access anyway, especially if it arrives on the back of a truck) — but then you’ll need long cables to go between the generator and the stage (it’s usually easiest usually to hire them with the generator, though again we can bring them given some warning).

Finally (!), check that it will run all evening without needing to be refueled, or at worst, that it can be refueled while it’s still running.

There are plenty of generator-hire places around, a quick trawl through Yellow Pages or the online equivalent will find them. High-street tool- hire shops like HSS will hire you one, but you’ll be better off with a specialist supplier who’ll know their kit well, and almost certainly also be cheaper. If you’re hiring a marquee, the marquee people are the place to start — they’re likely to have preferred supplier(s), because it’s a very common requirement, and they may be able to do a good deal, as well.