Event Lighting Requirements

How Much Electricity Do I Need For My Event Lighting?

The question we get most often is “How much power do I need for my event lighting?”. This article will strive to answer your most common questions about power usage for all rental products that require power and provide you with other facts for decision making. For you safety and for the safety of our equipment we suggest the following facts when trying to consider power for your event or party location. 

Do I need a generator?

If the location has power that is not more than 100 feet from the event set-up area then you should not need a generator unless you are planning to use more power than the location offers. If the area does not have any power at all, then you need a generator.

How do I figure out how much power I need or have?

To figure out how much power you need, you need to know the following equation; amps x volts=watts. Volts are generally 110 or 120 and is printed on the appliance/or rental unit, amps is on your circuit; residential electrical panels carry either 10, 15 or 20 amps per circuit and possibly more for commercial. If you have an older home or an outdated electrical panel it will likely be 10 or possibly 15 amps. Sometimes the watts are known but you are missing amps or volts, in this case you divide (go backwards) by the number you know Watts / Voltage = Amps or Voltage / Watts = Amps.

If you think you will need a lot of power at your event, we suggest figuring out how many circuits are on each panel and how many amps each circuit has by locating your electrical panel. The electrical panel is a metal cabinet and is usually located in the garage or on the outside of the home, however on some homes it is in a closet inside the house (it’s the metal box you go to when the power goes out or you trip a breaker and need to reset it).

Each circuit has a switch that will have a number; 10, 15, 20, etc. That number is how many amps you have on that circuit. If your electrical panel is not marked (ie living room, garage, etc) then we suggest labeling your circuits so that you know which is which. To discover what circuit provides power to what areas of your home you can simply turn on all the lights interior and exterior, flip a circuit breaker switch on your panel and see what areas lose power, then label the circuit.

When planning your power needs it is important to remember all of the items you need to power. This includes; DJ equipment, speakers, string lighting, up lighting, electric heaters, catering equipment, photo booths and any other item that requires electricity. Distribution of power throughout the circuits requires planning but is worth the security. *We strive to offer the latest equipment rentals with LED lighting if possible, this saves power automatically.

For continuous loads (on for more than three hours) the limit is 20% lower.

So for a 15-amp breaker, you can’t draw more than 12 amps from the circuit for more than three hours, or 1440 watts (12A x 120V). It’s no coincidence that the wattage of a huge window-unit AC or a large electric space heater is… 1440 watts.

Some people are tempted to swap out a breaker with a larger one to keep it from tripping. Don’t.

Your home’s wiring almost certainly isn’t thick enough to handle a higher load. If you put more current through the wiring than it’s capable of handling, it can heat up and burn your house down. If you keep tripping a breaker, just plug some of the offending items into different circuits (or replace your light bulbs with low energy or LED bulbs to help redistribute the usage, this is “green” and helps you save energy).

Can I use the dance lights and speakers on the same outlet?

When we purchase rental equipment we consider all aspects of the rental including power. Our speaker systems can be plugged into any modern outlet without overloading it. All of our dance lights and up lighting are LED, which is a low energy product and can be on the same outlet as the speaker system. Generally the installer will use a power strip for all A/V rentals. *The only item that is not low energy are black lights because we have yet to find a suitable black light made with LED bulbs. If you have hired a DJ who is providing his own equipment, be sure to ask about the power needs of his equipment as to not overload your breaker.

The 110v and 120v & AC/DC is confusing me, how do I figure it out?

There is no real difference between 110v and 120v. As voltage rises – the current draw, goes down for any set load. Meaning, if the voltage is 120v, you will draw less amperage than if it was 110v. This is important in the wiring, and circuit protection areas. Lower amperage means you can use smaller wire and lower rated fuses/circuit breakers. However you will still use the same amount of watts (power). In addition, electricity from the wall is AC and is 120 volts. Some adapters changes that to low-voltage DC, usually 3, 6, 9, or 12 volts. Output is always less than input, because the conversion process is inefficient.