Electrical considerations for event organisers

Louise Smyth

Matt Collins explains what organisers must consider when managing event electrical installations

A recent report from Eventbrite showed that most UK event organisers believe their events will grow in the coming year. Yet this growth can only be realised if every aspect of these events is managed effectively.

The events industry is arguably one of the world’s oldest, with a history that predates accurate historical records.

When you compare the complexity of ancient events, such as the original series of Olympic Games in Greece, to their modern equivalents, it’s clear just how far the industry has progressed.

Whether it’s a sporting event on the scale of the modern Olympics, a national biking event or even a smaller town festival, one of the key components of modern events is the technology involved, ranging from elaborate lighting rigs to speaker systems.

This technology continues to advance, with some music festivals now even using hologram technology to bring late musical legends back to life, most notably with Coachella festival in 2012 featuring a hologram of late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Behind every speaker system, lighting rig and screen is a network of temporary electrical installations, from generators to distribution boards. If this equipment is not up to task, it increases the likelihood of a power and system failure — which will impact the event’s reputation and make subsequent events a harder sell.

Event organisers can avoid unexpected failures by considering power distribution for both the site and during the event.

Site considerations include factors such as site layout, the details and access to any mains power supply, emergency power and the environmental conditions of the site.

For example, organisers of festivals in warmer climates, such as Spain’s Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, will have significantly different site and environmental conditions to consider than that of an event in the more rain-prone regions like the UK.

Warmer conditions mean organisers and electrical contractors must consider factors such as the operating temperature of equipment to prevent failure due to overheating.

Likewise, wetter environments require equipment to perform without fears of moisture causing a fault. This can be addressed by taking measures such as specifying a distribution box with a suitably IP-rated enclosure.

Although these considerations address site power, there are of course different requirements while the events are taking place.

Organisers must ensure that factors such as the timetable of power requirements and installation access are considered.

Where possible, contractors and organisers should locate the main electrical intakes or generator enclosures where they are accessible for normal operations or emergencies, but segregated from public areas of the venue. Displaying danger warning signs around the enclosure, in addition to careful placement, significantly reduces the risk of the public or unauthorised workers touching it.

From ide Systems’ experience delivering event power to organisers across the globe, many of these factors are often overlooked by organisers and contractors alike during the frenzied planning of increasingly large events.

It’s for this reason that ide Systems has put together an electrical checklist for event organisers, which ensures that the critical steps are covered — making for safer and more successful events.

The power behind events may have become more complex since the days of the first Olympics in 776 BC, but the industry remains as popular as ever.

By properly considering power distribution and electrical equipment, organisers can ensure their events meet the expectations of attendees for years to come.

Matt Collins is business development manager of temporary power distribution specialist ide Systems