Entertainment event electrical power

Live music and related events needs lots of electrical power to run the audio, video and light systems. Energy is a big costs for a festival. Besides the cost of the electricity itself, there are typically considerable cost of getting enough electricity for a large event and distributing that electricity where it is needed using temporary electrical distribution systems.

Stages use audio, video and lighting These are the most energy-intensive systems, particularly at larger events. Traditionally over half of stage power is used by lighting, traditionally incandescent lamps and later also LEDs that use less power. Bars use electricity for refrigeration, drinks dispensing, audio and lighting. Also both food and nonfood traders at the events need power. Generally electrical power is one of the five single largest production costs for almost any type of music festival.

Electricity use at outdoor events is often provided by diesel-powered generators because in many locations there is no powerful enough electrical feed available for the location. For example music festivals are often situated in fields and countryside, and most of them lack adequate access to a power grid. To use the analogy of a human body for such event, the generators are the heart, the electricity is the lifeblood of a festival, and our power distribution systems are the veins that get it all where it needs to go.

A key issue at outdoor and indoor events is energy security. Power supplies should not fail, and if they do, they need to be corrected quickly. It takes careful planning to make the electrical power reliable. Electricity consumption for specific activities needs to be calculated for the entire duration of the event. It is necessary to choose an appropriate solution based on all factors such as budget, time, space, available resources, the nature of the event and the importance of each aspect of the event. Equipment that is used outdoors (i.e, subject to the elements or ingress from the elements) should have an appropriate IP rating. Also the power system needs to be able to set up and set down quickly, because you typically pay rent for the location and rented equipment.

The electrical power distribution at large uses many different connectors starting from normal mains power outlets to very high current three phase power connections and multi-pin connectors that carry many circuits with one connector.  In many European countries event power is provided on connectors which are known as ‘cee-form’ defined by their current rating. These connectors come in ratings of 16amp, 32amp, 63amp and 125 amp. Single phase (230V) connectors are blue and three phase (230/400V) connectors are red. For power supplies above 125 amps systems such as Powerlock are used and typically provide up to 400 amp three phase. 19Pin Socapex or 16Pin Harting connector is often used to connect many lamps to dimmer with one connector.

Here are some videos on electricity at large events:

Entertainment industry connectors.

Show power distribution. Edinburgh Tattoo.

InfoComm 2014: Applied Electronics Shows Their Power Distro System

InfoComm 2016: Leprecon Showcases Its New LPD Portable Power Distribution Racks

GMS Distribution Power Box Demo

Whirlwind PowerLink UL Listed Tactical Power Distribution Overview

Introduction To Temporary Power

CEP Training Video 1

PCE Merz Portable Power Distribution Box 63Amp 3P+N+E IP67

“The way of earth leakage” by INDU-ELECTRIC Power Distribution

K-LOK 400A Single Pole Connector

Power Connectors – Overview

Stage Left Audio – Power Cords

50 Amp Power Distro – Spider Box for Audio Visual Productions

PCE Mobile Solid-Rubber power distribution boxes – Series STEYR


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steambrite: 230 Volt to 240 volt Circuit Joiner using two 120 Volt outlets

    Having difficulty finding where to plug in you 230 and 240 volt electric car, appliance, pressure washer, vapor steam cleaner?

    Used on Stopsaws, planers, and other industrial woodworking equipment.

    120 to 240 volt conveter

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why we do not join ground wires and neutral wires together downstream of the service equipment.

    Parallel Paths

    This demonstration shows why we do not want to connect grounds and neutrals together downstream of the service equipment.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Grammy FOH Platform Start-up

    Climbing down to the FOH dimmer platform to turn on all moving lights and dimmers.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Straight vs Balanced Racks

    A short description explaining the difference between straight and balanced dimmer racks. This holds true for all versions of ETC installation Sensor racks, as well as Unison DR and DRd racks. Touring Sensor racks are hardwired in a balanced configuration.

    Cleaning and Maintaining your ETC Sensor or DRd Rack – Interior

    In this video, we will show you all the steps to properly clean and maintain the interior of your ETC Sensor or DRd rack.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Weatherproof 32A Single Phase Power Distro Build – Heavy Duty PDU for Outdoor Event Power

    new heavy-duty weatherproof 32 amp power distribution unit that is used for temporary event power outdoors.
    This video documents the build process, modifications and workarounds

    This unit takes a single 32A Ceeform input and breaks it out into 3x 16A Ceeform outputs. The distro also provides overall overload protection, output overload protection and features dual 16A 30mA RCBOs (RCD + MCB combined). The split RCBO outputs mean that in the event of an earth leakage fault only some power would trip off and experience outages.
    This is ideal for my use in live sound at music festivals as I can run the stage power from one side of the distro and the front-of-house main PA system from the other.
    That means in the event somebody on stage plugs something faulty in (phone charger, guitar amplifier etc..) it will take power out to the stage only and I can still play music out front uninterrupted.

    The build is actually based on a factory-built Mennekes “Menn 459913″ unit

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Meet The Gaffer #52: Power Distro for a Sitcom Stage

    Set Electrician Sheila Greene takes on a tour of the power distro on a “small” sitcom stage.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rack Power (PDU) terms and technology

    This video is a primer on the terms and technology behind the rack Power Distribution Units (PDU) that are used in data centers.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ide Rental – Power Distribution Hire

    19-Inch Rack Mount 3U Mains Distribution Unit 32A 230V 2P+E to 6 x 16A 2P+E (Individual MCB’s)

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A “Neat” Way to Wrap an Extension Cord

    Best Way to Store an Extension Cord

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    GMS Distribution Power Box Demo

    A quick look at the features of a GMS Power Box and Adapters.

    DIY 6,000 Watt Power Strip, US 220 to 110 Volt Converter

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    HOSA TECHNOLOGY | PDX 250-Power Distribution | PRODUCT DEMO

    This cable is designed to distribute line power to various components along its length. It is ideal for use with lighting equipment and pro audio gear in live venues.
    Connectors: NEMA 5-15R to NEMA 5-15P

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    InfoComm 2014: Applied Electronics Shows Their Power Distro System

    Power Supply Distribution Board. (POWERSAFE) Stage Equipment’s.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Phase 3 Connectors Ltd – Powersafe Single Pole Connectors

    Phase 3’s Powersafe range are the highest rated, safest and finest quality single pole connectors as used by the power, events, military and cable assembly industries worldwide.


  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lucy Zodion – Westminster In-Ground Power Distribution Unit – product video

    an in-ground power distribution unit that provides power from ground to socket in a matter of seconds. With improved set-up and safety features, the retractable feeder pillar is the ideal solution for the on-demand power requirements of event spaces, market stalls, stations and more…

    Mobile Power Distribution Center – 240 Volt Stepped Down to 120V – (8) 120v GFCI Outlets – Spiderbox

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Neutrik’s powerCON Explained – ISE Show 2016

    Neutrik’s powerCON series includes lockable, extremely robust and reliable 3 pole equipment (AC) connectors.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Converting a Surge Protector / Power Strip to Neutrik PowerCON TRUE1 for Daisychainability

    A guide to adding a Neutrik PowerCON TRUE1 panel connector to a Furman SS-6B power strip to allow daisy-chaining of multiple strips.

    Neutrik guarantees that the passthrough connectors can handle daisychaining

    Neutrik PowerCON TRUE1 – How to install male and female cable connectors

    A helpful guide for installing male and female Neutrik PowerCON TRUE1 electrical connectors onto a cable.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Meet The Gaffer #39: Basic Distro

    In this episode Alan Steinheimer walks through a basic distribution plan for feeding a set with power.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Meet The Gaffer #40: Cable Wrangling Tip

    Quick tip on how to save your back when pulling out heavy cable.

    Meet The Gaffer #36: Plug-In House Power

    This video discusses how to go about distributing power when plugging lights into existing circuits in a house rather than bringing in power from an outside source, like a genny.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    30 Amp RV vs 50 Amp RV

    What is the difference between a 30 amp and a 50 amp RV electrical system?

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    1 of 3 – DIY EXTENSION CORDS: Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck

    If there is a sale, you can save a lot of money if you buy a 50 foot cord extension cord verses buying the electrical cord by the foot.

    In this video series I modifying a 50 ft extension cord into 3 versatile electrical shop cord systems

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why some power plugs have 3 prongs instead of 2

    “why does one of these have 2 prongs, but the other one has 3?” Well, the answer all boils down to your personal safety. Here’s why.

    Bizline-Why Do Different Countries Use Different Power Plugs?

    Why Do Different Countries Use Different Power Plugs?
    Power plugs come in different shapes and sizes across the world, and they can be broadly divided into 12 main types.
    Why do countries have different outlet and voltage standards? Is there any way they can be harmonized into a single standard ?

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Plugs : 32A plugs (240v & 110v) BS EN 60309-2

    The plugs and couplers in this video are the 32A size, and are the Yellow 110v plugs and couplers, and the 240v Blue plugs and couplers.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Phase 3 Connectors Ltd – Powersafe Single Pole Connectors

    Phase 3’s Powersafe range are the highest rated, safest and finest quality single pole connectors as used by the power, events, military and cable assembly industries worldwide.

    Powersafe single pole connectors are 100% manufactured and assembled in the UK by Phase 3. The plug’s mating system is mechanically keyed and locked, meaning they cannot be mis-mated accidentally under load. Powersafe are the industry’s safest high current powerlock type connectors. The UL Listed power connectors are rated up to 800 amps and are perfect to mate with the Powersafe Box.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PLASA 2016 Awards for Innovation – Clarke Cable’s Socapex Power & DMX solution

    David Broadhurst of Clarke Cable introduces the company’s custom power & DMX cable

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IEC 60309

    IEC 60309 (formerly IEC 309 and CEE 17, also published by CENELEC as EN 60309) is an international standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for “plugs, socket-outlets and couplers for industrial purposes”. The maximum voltage allowed by the standard is 1000 V DC or AC; the maximum current, 800 A; and the maximum frequency, 500 Hz. The ambient temperature range is −25 °C to 40 °C.

    There is a range of plugs and sockets of different sizes with differing numbers of pins, depending on the current supplied and number of phases accommodated.

    they include IP44 weather-proofing

    The cable connectors and sockets are keyed and colour-coded, according to the voltage range and frequency used; common colours for 50–60 Hz AC power are yellow for 100–130 volts, blue for 200–250 volts, and red for 380–480 volts.

    The blue fittings are often used for providing weather-proofed exterior sockets for outdoor apparatus. In camping situations, the large 32 A blue fittings provide power to static caravans, whilst the smaller blue 16 A version powers touring caravans and tents.

    The standard defines connectors with 3, 4 and 5 pins

    Series I preferred current ratings (in Amps) are: 16, 32, 63, 125, 250, 400, 630 and 800, with wire gauges specified as mm2

    IEC 60309 connectors come in IP44 (splash-proof) and IP67 (waterproof) variants. In both cases, the rating applies when detached or mated, but not during the mating process.

    The more common IP44 variant features a spring-loaded hinged cap over the socket.

    The red 3P+N+E, 6h (180°) plug allows connecting to the widespread 400 V three phase power network. The most common ratings are 16 A, 32 A and 63 A, with 125 A less common. Construction sites in central Europe have most of their higher power cabling setup with this three phase socket type as the single phase to neutral voltage of 230 V is available for other devices. So called power splitters with this connector as a 3 phase inlet and 3 groups of single phase outputs with individual circuit breakers are generally used to achieve this, and allow load balancing across the phases, important on generator supplies. Similar configurations are used for outdoor exhibitions, festivals and large events.

    The blue P+N+E, 6h (180°) plug is a single phase connector. In particular the smallest (16 A) variant has become especially common in camping vehicles and sockets found in caravan parks and marinas throughout Europe. The so-called ‘Caravan Mains Socket’

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Neutrals from transformers and in electrical circuits

    What a neutral wire is and how it is derived at the transformer.
    Also how part of a circuit is a neutral, how it isn’t once disconnected and possible dangers of disconnecting wires which have apparently no voltage on them.

    Isolated Electricity Supplies – Why they are not used for everything

    An isolated supply is not referenced to ground, and so the only way to get a shock from it is to touch both conductors at the same time.
    They are not used everywhere as it is very difficult to ensure they remain isolated – any fault to ground anywhere would go unnoticed but convert the system to ground referenced.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Types of MCB / Circuit Breaker, BCDKZ

    Different types of circuit breaker, tripping current and considerations when using them.


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