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How to power a small music festival?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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gigawhattt's Avatar
 

How to power a small music festival?

Hi there. long time GS reader, first time poster in a time of need.

WARNING: I know enough about live sound/power to know that I know nearly nothing about live sound/power.

Me and a few friends have been hosting an annual DIY music festival for the past three years. Last year we had someone running sound with a powered PA set up, LR subs, main board, and a couple on stage monitors.

This year we've nearly doubled ticket sales (!). We're at about 120 attendees, the festival is in 3 days. With the increased budget, we hired a guy to run sound. He said he's bringing power amps and a passive (?) PA setup. He just texted us and said we need to tell him if the venue is 1 phase or 3 phase, how many outlets, and what type of outlets.

This is the answer we got when we reached out to the owners of the venue, "I'm pretty sure there are a couple of 20 amp circuits with multiple outlets in the pavilion. In addition there is a single 20 amp circuit with one outlet in the rear of the pavilion behind the bathrooms. There is also power down by the pier on a seperate circuit."

I know there is not nearly enough information here to ensure a definite answer on whether we will be able to run sound, but if anyone could provide even a vague rule of thumb when figuring this stuff out, that'd be great.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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In the US 120 / 240V 1 Phase 3 Wire is the standard for homes and 240V 3 Phase is the standard for small buildings with large loads.*Ask the sound guy what he NEEDS to power his equipment. Then call a local electrician and have him meet you at the venue to verify that the soundman will be GTG. Worst case scenario the electrician can run a pigtail out of the main panel for him... If possible all 3 of you should meet at the venue together. The price for the electrician will be worth its weight in gold when the party goes as planned...
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Bonus points : you’ll also be ready for next years power
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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TexasCat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stones View Post
In the US 120 / 240V 1 Phase 3 Wire is the standard for homes and 240V 3 Phase is the standard for small buildings with large loads.*Ask the sound guy what he NEEDS to power his equipment. Then call a local electrician and have him meet you at the venue to verify that the soundman will be GTG. Worst case scenario the electrician can run a pigtail out of the main panel for him... If possible all 3 of you should meet at the venue together. The price for the electrician will be worth its weight in gold when the party goes as planned...
This is a great answer.

I'll also add that since the sound company is asking about 3 phase, he may already have a power distro as part of his rig that the electrician can hook up for him...
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Mike M's Avatar
Not scientific but.......

Ideally, it would be great to visit the site with a licensed electrician or, even better, have one on-hand at the event. My civic events always take care of this.

The reality is that for private events YOU (the promoter of the event) will most-likely have to pay for the electrician...

The above being said, I would visit the site and ask to see the breaker panel... No matter where I go to do sound, I always ask to have access to the panel...just in case we "throw a breaker" during a show.

Once you have access to the panel you can determine which breaker is for which set of outlets and see their power rating.
You can get one of these https://www.homedepot.com/p/Power-Ge...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
for cheap and check each outlet for its breaker. (Many breaker panels are poorly labeled in my experience.)

You can take things a step further and use a Fluke to meter the outlets, but in my small/local world, the receptacle tester does the trick.

The thing about wall power is that you will need "dedicated" (nothing else plugged into it) circuits for band power/PA/lights.
Two "dedicated" 20 amp circuits for backline/PA plus one 15 amp for lights will work for me. (I've done it with one 20 for backline/PA at small outdoor daytime events..)

My power issues almost every time arise when a "coffee urn" or other such appliance gets plugged into one of my (dedicated??) circuits during a show.... I will gaff-tape-over wall receptacles to discourage people from using them....it still doesn't stop'em as some will remove the tape....
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Instead of you visiting and dealing with this, have the sound guy talk with the venue, since he seems to know what is needed and may have the gear. Less chance of "telephone" missing vital information. If you want to go with him to learn, great, but put the sound and venue people in touch to get what's needed done.

We just did a show on a Showmobile portable stage where the breakers tripped - too much going through one circuit. One thing you can do is to make a sheet that totals up your current draw from PA, amps, etc. The Showmobile PA was fine on its own, but when a large bass rig and a big power amp for monitors was added on the same circuit...

That way you'll know how many amps the gear is pulling, and if you need more than 20 amps.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Mike M's Avatar
Agreed...but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
Instead of you visiting and dealing with this, have the sound guy talk with the venue, since he seems to know what is needed and may have the gear. Less chance of "telephone" missing vital information. If you want to go with him to learn, great, but put the sound and venue people in touch to get what's needed done.

We just did a show on a Showmobile portable stage where the breakers tripped - too much going through one circuit. One thing you can do is to make a sheet that totals up your current draw from PA, amps, etc. The Showmobile PA was fine on its own, but when a large bass rig and a big power amp for monitors was added on the same circuit...

That way you'll know how many amps the gear is pulling, and if you need more than 20 amps.
When I am booked to provide sound for an event, my document (job proposal) states my power requirements. It is up to the promoter to provide such....and they sign to do so.

I (as a sound provider) will visit a site to see what's available, only to find that, on the day of the event, the circuits are not "totally mine" to use.

It's just the way things work out....sometimes I show up to do sound only to discover that a food vendor has a power line running to one of my "dedicated" outlets....or worse.

A case in point:
One time (at an ACS Relay for Life) I was provided a generator for stage power (it was supposed to have two 20 amp circuits...actually, it was more like one 15...we made do with what we had to work with).
In any case, we got the PA up and running. As evening came there was a sudden drop in power.....almost browning-out the PA.
I went over to the generator and found an extension cord plugged in. That extension cord led to the lights of a LARGE tent - in that large tent, nurses were drawing blood from donors to be used for cancer research....

I ended up turning off the sub/mid power amps and only kept the horn amp on so that only announcements could be made... The activities director was furious but I showed her the signed "job proposal" stating that the ACS agreed to provide TWO dedicated 20 amp circuits for the PA.

Sometimes things are not in our control.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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A word of advice: the best advise Was given by Stones in post #2 ...ALL things electrical should be decided and handled by a qualified and competent electrician!!!
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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gigawhattt's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
The thing about wall power is that you will need "dedicated" (nothing else plugged into it) circuits for band power/PA/lights.
Two "dedicated" 20 amp circuits for backline/PA plus one 15 amp for lights will work for me. (I've done it with one 20 for backline/PA at small outdoor daytime events..)
Thanks Mike, this is good to know. We had contacted the sound guy at least a month or two ago and asked what he'll need for power, but I don't think he ever responded/didn't make it sound like a big deal (I'm not the one who's communicating with him). Meeting with him and an electrician on site does sound like the best option, but it's about an hour drive to the venue for us, about 10 hours for the sound guy, and the festival is in 2 days
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

I don't know where you're from, but calling someone for a small festival from a place 10 hours away is just insane.
Fuel and time lost driving to the place will cost you a fortune for an event like this.

By the way, the easiest way of handling this is to just give the owner's number to the sound guy.
Next time hiring a local will probably save you time and many problems.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
We did a show at a dock side venue in Cleveland. The venue assured us they had more than enough power. We get there and what they had was one 20 amp outlet. There was a catering company that had three 1200 watt food cabinets to keep food warm and they were already hooked up to the one outlet. I called the contact person who was not at home but finally called me back. He said "I'M sorry but I thought you were going to use our distro panel which has 8 to 10 - 20 amp circuits". I said that sounds great but then he said "you needed to let us know two weeks in advance and there would be a $500 setup charge which covers renting the distro box and a qualified electrician". He goes on to say " I am sorry but you will have to get by with what there is available". Then he says "there is another outlet 200 feet from the stage that you could also use". We had a small system but it still pull about 20 to 30 amps. Our extension cords were 14 gauge and we had enough to put one at the 200 foot outlet. I talked the matter over with the catering service and they said they would be pulling out their units as soon as the people were fed. We setup the stage but did not turn anything on until just before the show. It went off OK but things could have gone from bad to worse. Oh well the joys of concert sound.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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JayTee4303's Avatar
20 kW Sunbelt diesel.

Done.

:-)
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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OK, so while you can scour the owners manuals and webs to estimate current draw, what tools can be used to check how much current is being drawn on 15 or 20 amp circuits? Not looking for Fluke tester, but something that plugs into power to help folks understand how much power is being drawn from stage, PA, lights, etc.

This is less for full time show people, and more for those lower-rung fundraisers or festivals.

thanks!
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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For relatively modest loads (one circuit/outlet), a Kill-a-watt meter works very nicely.

There are also some panel mount meters of various descriptions available from places like Amazon that display current, voltage, power, etc. for quite reasonable prices. One of those wired up into an appropriate enclosure with input and output connectors would work well, or it could be built into a rack or something.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Having the tools is one thing, making sense of and understanding the information they give is another thing...educating yourself on the principles is more important than buying the tools if you don’t have the knowledge. Even if you’re not a full-timer the scientific laws are always the same....I always equals E/R (E= IxR), and a 20 amp circuit can kill just like a 200 amp circuit.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Rent a generator truck
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
Rent a generator truck
How much power should it be, single or three phase....?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

You're all focusing on the amount of current draw.
But how far is the socket from stage? Are there more sockets on the same breaker? Are the breakers MCB, RCBO or what?
What if he wants to put things on several different breakers?
For example I would never have power on stage from the same breaker where I have pa. Or any idiot who plugs a phone charger in short-circuit would stop the festival.
And more... is he from a professional company or some random guy? I find absurd that someone won't bring his own power distro. I don't know American laws but here you'd be required to provide powerbox certifications and electrical scheme days before the show, even the smallest ones.

There are so many things to learn that it would be crazy to think the OP should just plug a meter and estimate current draw.
This is so superficial. How much does it take to call the sound guy and talk to him?
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Specific rules and laws may differ from country to country or from state to state for various reasons, what’s important is that they follow the applicable laws and rules in their specific region.

Some of the things you say makes perfect sense, but how And why “we” do things in “our” part of the world might not be relevant or even legal in other places...there are things you can do in Italy that probably wouldn’t fly in Germany for example.

I do agree with you about getting a device to measure current draw, especially when the person does not understand the basic principles. Furthermore, knowing the power requirements of the gear before you plug them into a circuit makes more sense since you will avoid tripping the breaker(s).
Old 2 days ago
  #20
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So how did the festival go?
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