One thing that often gets left to the last minute is power. This is because many people don't understand the power required to run an event and how to calculate watts, volts, amps, single phase, three phase and the equipment required to make it happen.
Before starting Oakleaf Marquees I used a marquee for my wedding reception (which was the catalyst......but that's another story) and I believed it would be possible to simply run a few cables from the house (a common misconception). The caterer told me this would be a bad idea in her experience, so I approached a local generator hire company. It was a tiresome experience, as if I was learning a new language from scratch. So here are a few pointers to help the uninitiated!
POINTER 1: Do your sums
Firstly, find out what power is available at your venue: how many sockets, what sort of sockets they are (in amps) and, if the sockets are 13amp or 16amp, how many ring mains there are and what the maximum load of each is (in watts). It's also useful to know how far the sockets are from the marquee.
Secondly, ask your suppliers what equipment they are bringing and how many watts each requires (3,000 watts is 3kw by the way). Also, get an idea of how many sockets they'll need to plug into, where they'll be required in the marquee and give some thought to the timetable for the day so you can work out what's likely to be used concurrently in order to establish a max figure to work with.
If your venue is a residential house, it's likely you'll have a handful of 13amp sockets running on just one ring main. Most ring mains are around 7,500 watts (7.5kw). So if you have a loo trailer (needs 3kw), an urn to make hot drinks (another 3kw) and lights inside the marquee (1kw plus), you're nearly at the max of what the ring main can deal with.......and that's not including any appliances that happen to be on inside the house. This is why caterers wince when you mention powering everything from the house! It's also worth checking that the house's power supply is reliable. Depending on how much power you need, an electrician may be able to wire a supply directly into the fuse box.
If your venue hosts events regularly, it's likely it'll have a beefy supply already installed (like Harry Warren House andMapperton House for example). There will probably be several (blue) 16amp sockets, or a couple of 32amp, or even a 63amp socket. Check whether the socket covers are blue or red (the latter indicates that it's a three phase supply which I won't bore you about now).
We are always happy to help you out with power. Often this is covered at the site visit.
POINTER 2: Some event equipment needs a lot of juice
As touched on above, anything electrical that heats (hot cupboards, urns, turbo ovens, hot lamps, fat fryers etc) use a lot of power. Allow 3kw per appliance to be on the safe side. We once did a job and the caterer had ten electrical appliances on the go because of the complex (and incredible) menu! That equated to nearly 30kw of power - or, to put it another way, 4 regular houses worth of power!! The 'standard' catering spec is in reality around 6-12kw.
Large appliances such as toilet trailers and chiller/freezer trailers use lots of juice too, 3-3.5kw each.
Generally speaking, bands and DJs don't pose too many power problems unless their sound systems are enormous (and we've only encountered an enormous system once).
POINTER 3: Don't cut it too fine
It would be very tiresome if your event suddenly loses power because the house dishwasher cuts in or someone flushes the loo in the loo trailer. Always add a contingency figure just in case and never leave it down to the last couple of hundred watts. Power outages are not fun: loos stop working, it goes very dark, some start screaming, it goes very quiet and even the drunker guests know something's wrong!
POINTER 4: Generators
As you've hopefully done the research covered above, you're nearly there! We can provide 45kva (36kw) modern and super-silent generators that come with a distribution board, cables, sockets, 20-24hrs worth of fuel and delivery/collection for £450+VAT, so you could just hire one from us - job done! Alternatively, you might not need a generator quite so big (you may even need one bigger) in which case we recommend the friendly and knowledgable guys at CES Poole.
You could also try one of the chains like Brandon Tool Hire or HSS but make sure you compare like-for-like: do their quotes include fuel, cables and everything else listed above? Are they available 24/7 if something goes wrong? Also, one important generator point: ensure that whatever you hire is 240v and NOT the building site spec 110v (with tell-tale yellow sockets) - that would be a hell of a mistaka-to-maka.
A common question we get asked is 'how noisy are your generators'. Well, they do make a little noise but it isn't offensive and once you have 50 plus people in the marquee, you'll never notice. Space allowing we can position the generator up to 25m away from the marquee too.