Planning Your Exhibit Booth Electrical Needs
Every event manager knows that planning the electrical components of your booth is one of the most challenging parts of attending exhibit shows. Not only is it a complex process, but any flaws or miscalculations can cause serious delays and extra costs, potentially ruining your exhibit show experience.
There are two components to ordering electricity for your booth: you need to know the amount of power your exhibit needs. You need to have the correct placement diagram for the electricians on hand. Keep in mind that this topic can vary significantly from booth to booth, so this piece will only be covering the basics of ordering and planning the electrical components of your exhibit.
Determining Your Wattage
The first step in making an electrical order for your exhibit is to figure out how much electricity you need. You can do this by considering all the electrical elements you’ll be using in your booth. How many computer screens are you bringing? Laptops? Charges? Electronic displays? After determining the elements you’re bringing, you should next calculate how many watts each device needs.
Devices will list their power requirements on their label, but Watts = Amps x Volts, and the number that this sum spits out is what you’ll need to order. The best way to make sure you don’t miss listing any devices (sometimes they can be less than obvious) is to look at a paper printout of your booth’s schematics, mark where all the electrical elements will be, and then make a list of them.
Composing your Electrical Diagram
To begin making an electrical diagram, you must first locate your main distribution point, located wherever your main electrical drop is. In-line exhibits will have their drop at the back of the booth, while island and peninsula exhibits may have their drops from a column, ceiling, or floor port.
After marking your distribution point (as well as your booth’s placement amidst neighbor stands and where your booth’s entrance is), determine how many outlets you’ll need, where they need to be, and what devices can be powered by which outlets. This is where your prior booth printout (where you marked where all your devices are) will come in handy–with this in hand, all you’ll have to do next is transfer the locations of your devices to an electrical diagram. Note that the more devices you can combine into a power strip, the more money you’ll save.
The electrical diagram that you submit with your order should include measurements of the perimeter of your booth so that the show electrician can have an easier time laying lines on site.
Remember that any rigged equipment will require a separate overhead outlet order with a different diagram.
When preparing to order electrical services, you should first review the union guidelines of the show you’ll be attending. This will tell you what work your own team can do and what must be done by the show’s contractor.
Electrical services are broken down into three different types:
- Floor work – the placement and wiring of your main electrical drop, laying of electrical cables & outlets along or under your flooring
- Booth work – above-floor components that will need to be connected to power
- Ceiling work – installing any rigged lighting and otherwise
It’s generally advised that electricians make the final connections to avoid any injuries or fire.
Packing for the Show
When packing for the electrical components of your show, there are three things we advise you to bring:
- Power strips and/or surge protectors
- Extension cords
- Extra printouts of your electrical diagrams
Power strips, extension cords, and the like are great items to bring since they often cost an incredible amount of money to rent at an event. Extra electrical diagram printouts help yourself, the electrician, and the installation-and-dismantle team. They can keep everything in your booth safe and on point.
When you arrive on-site, you should take a moment to double-check your own work against the layout of your booth. This way, you can find anything troubling before it gets to the point of no return by contacting the show electrician for help.
Getting your electrical order in is an incredibly important aspect of any exhibit show. Orderly and correct electricity can make or break your booth, budget, and show experience–make sure to have your electrical orders and drawings submitted on time as well to avoid any delays or extra costs.