Event generator hire can be a complicated and confusing mess of information. Here’s some quick guide to the information you will need when booking.
Size And Type Of Generator
First of all you need to find out which generator you will need to hire for your event. Most hire agencies will be able to provide you a suitable generator as long as you can provide some fundamental information.
What kind of appliances will you be powering?
Are you going to be supplying power to lighting? Phone charger? Cooking Equipment? Luxury Toilets? Or maybe an extreme sound system? The power needed for each use case is different and we will have to cater to that requirement. The energy requirement for each appliance can normally be found on a sticker or will be listed on the product website.
How many items will need power and how much do they need?
Throughout your event you will more than likely have multiple items running off that generator. You need to calculate the maximum amount of Wattage that we will require at any one point, this can be easily calculated by listing all the equipment that needs power, writing the Watts required by each unit and adding them together.
Timetable of Power Requirements
During the events you might require more power at one point more than others. These fluctuations need to be factored in your calculations for energy and fuel requirements.
Whats the physical size of the generator?
You will need to know the size of the generator. This will affect the layout of your event as you might be able to position and hide a smaller unit a lot easier than a larger one. You also will have to consider the size and weight dimensions for when you transporting the unit.
What extra equipment do I need and does it come supplied?
Cable – Heavy duty metal sheathed cable that is long enough, safe and comes with the correct adapters.
Fuel Containers – Large enough to hold everything you need for the event and are safe.
Load Banks – A load bank is a device that develops an electrical load, appies it to a local power source and converts or dissipates the power. This works as a safety feature to prevent generator malfunctions.
Distribution Boards – Allows you to run many types of different applications.
What Fuel Does The Generator Use?
- Emulsified Diesel
- Natural Gas
The main considerations to take in this is the price of the fuel that it uses, how it can be safely stored and availability.
How much fuel does it store?
Your event might go on for hours and you are not going to want to be continuously checking the generator to make sure that you have enough fuel. It is very important that you consider fuel consumption. You will need to know the maximum fuel capacity of the generator and how long that will power the highest demand of Watts that you plan on using.
Do you expect the generator to get wet? Maybe it’s going to be surrounded in mud or will it be in the peak sun during summer day?
Sheltering the generator from environmental risks helps to mitigate the risk of a disaster.
Can I have a generator indoors?
Do not use a generator indoors! Generators can produce deadly carbon monoxide which is odorless and colourless. You could be in serious danger without knowing.
How loud is the generator?
There is no such thing as a silent generator, only some are quieter than others. This is important when deciding where to position your generator for your event. You do not want to put a generator near a microphone neither do you want to place one where guests eat or have personal conversations with each other.
You can normally find generators functioning near facilities which are out of the way such as toilets.
How far away can I place a generator?
Electric cables experience resistance over distance, the longer the distance the higher the resistance. The resistance reduces the voltage of the power which can result in power drops.
To counter this effect you can use thicker cables to reduce the resistance but this comes at a financial price.
The hire service should be able to recommend the appropriate cable in order to accommodate your distance.
Can I hide the generator?
Yes, you can hide your generator in a structure that matches the visuals of your event. Be sure to provide LOTS of ventilation to let out heat and carbon dioxide. When I say lots I mean lots e.g a whole side open.
Weight of the generator?
The weight of the generator should be considered when thinking about transport. If the generator is really heavy it might be difficult to get across a field or up hill. It also means that the generator might require a forklift to lift it off the delivery vehicle.
Does it have wheels?
Some generators have a similar setup to trailers which are easier to transport and move. Other have flat base which might require additional lifting equipment to transport and position. Check in advance to avoid last second problems.
Positioning and stability
Generators should be on a strong flat surface. Consider the max amount of weight that the generator will sit on when you are creating a floor plan. Avoid slopes as this might prevent the generator from working safely and at maximum efficiency.
Set up in advance and collection date?
The generator might require a long set up including safety tests before it can be used on site. Check with your generator provider that the setup time does not encroach on the starting time of the event.
Regulations & Safety
When was the generator last tested?
Checking the last date generator testing can prevent you experiences problems due to wear and tear. Generators need to be regularly maintained as they can be prone to damage due to the ever changing environments they are subjected to. Information about last service can be provided by the generator company and a approved check date on the equipment.
Earthing the Generator
Equipment which generates current MUST to be earthed for safety. This provides the power a faster route to the ground in the event of a fault, rather than an unsuspecting guest.
Cables must not be a trip hazard if you can create a path for the cables which guests can not access the better. If you can’t provide this area then a trip hazard signs should be displayed along with any preventative measures to avoid trips such as cable floor strips and tape.
British Standard BS 7671
This standard is set for electrical installation in the UK as well as other countries. These protections reduce the risks of shock and fire. The standards put responsibility on the event manager to supply a electrically competent member of staff to oversee the electrical system.
Electrical distributions can be split into two sections Small/Simple (Under 6kVA/6KW) and Large/Complex. Small systems are allowed to be installed and maintained if the competent person is instructed to use a simple plug in tester. There are no requirements for documentation to be maintained but PAT history records must be checked and approved when the generator is received.
Anything that classified as a Large or complex system require an electrically skilled professional to manage over the generator.
What if something goes wrong?
If you are spending a lot on hiring at generator it might be a good idea to spend a little bit more on some insurance. The last thing you want is for someone to accidentally cost you an arm and a leg on an already expensive generator hire charge.
What to do in the event of a fire?
Be prepared in advance make sure you have all the correct local emergency services numbers saved.
An Isolation system is to turn off the power and the correct type of fire extinguisher will help reduce risk.
How long until I can get power back on site?
Some hire companies will provide assurances in the event of a generator fail that they will send a trained technician to repair the fault. Again, you might have to pay more for this but it’s better than your guests sitting in the dark.
If you don’t like the idea of waiting for a generator to get repaired halfway through your event a backup generator might be your best choice. Obviously this is the most expensive option as you are effectively hiring out two generators but if your spending lots on something like a corporate event the reassurance is worth it.
Simple things, what oil does the generator take? Is the oil at a right level? Have I got all the right phone numbers to call for help? Fire extinguisher ready? Do I have the correct tools if needed?
I hope this information helps you tick a few boxes when you are going through the sometimes challenging task of hiring a generator for your event.