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Author Topic: Specifying power requirements  (Read 5401 times)

Gerry Seymour

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Specifying power requirements
« on: April 14, 2010, 06:39:49 PM »

I've run into the first hotel that hasn't just made their distro available, so they're charging us for it and need to know the wattage requirements.

From the lighting side, this is pretty simple - max draw is all lamps at full (12 kW). Of course, I'll also have to toss in some nominal amount to cover the computers and such, which is easy enough to estimate.

What wattage should I specify for my audio rig, though? Should I quote maximum amperage for my amplifiers?
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Gerry Seymour

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anything that moves will eventually die

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2010, 09:20:45 PM »

Gerry Seymour wrote on Wed, 14 April 2010 17:39

I've run into the first hotel that hasn't just made their distro available, so they're charging us for it and need to know the wattage requirements.

From the lighting side, this is pretty simple - max draw is all lamps at full (12 kW). Of course, I'll also have to toss in some nominal amount to cover the computers and such, which is easy enough to estimate.

What wattage should I specify for my audio rig, though? Should I quote maximum amperage for my amplifiers?


Hi Gerry-

Welcome to the "hospitality" industry.

They will charge you by rating of the service.  Over-specifying will cost you more.  Without knowing what you're running, how loud you get, or what tiers of services the hotel offers it's hard to make a suggestion.

I've seen hotels that come in and count the number of regular Edison outlets in use and multiply by $20.  For service that requires a little plug-in distro our local Hyatt Regency gets $75 for 4 20 amp circuits.  If you need more, the 100 amp 3 phase 120/208v. service is $200/day.  That's CHEAP in the "real world."

That's hospitality electricity in a nutshell.  There are many many horror stories from clients and providers that just presumed that electricity came with the rental fee.

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2010, 09:36:10 PM »

To underscore what Tim said, the standard for hotel power is that there is no standard.  The hotel I do the most work in doesn't charge for use of the high-current outlets, but charges for using their distro.  This was pretty easy to get around - I just bought a couple of the goofy plugs they use (NEMA 14-60) and I'm good to go.  I've paid for most of my distro equipment over the years by not paying their rental, which I think is $375 for a weekend.
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2010, 09:58:12 PM »

Up to now, I've managed to only work in places where they threw in the "spider box" (what they called their lame-ass distro) for free. The one I'm in this time will let us use wall power free, but I want the distro to reduce ground loop issues. They'll probably rape us for that use, but that's how it goes.

I'm just trying to figure out how much power I need for my audio. I'm running two amps (Behringer EP1500 and EP2000) - total 3500 W nominal. Most of what we do will be spoken word, but I push the system pretty hard during the walk-up music, so those short times are my peak usage. I'm pushing the amps pretty close to clip - momentary clipping on the kick drum is normal in these times.

Do I need to leave room for the entire 3500 W, or am I safe specifying less - maybe even running both off a single 20A circuit?
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Gerry Seymour

Professional Trainer and Speaker
(with lighting/audio experience)


anything that moves will eventually die

anything that doesn't move is probably already dead - James Feenstra

Gerry Seymour

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2010, 10:01:11 PM »

That's about what I think they're going to charge. However, I don't have a distro of my own, so I'm kinda stuck using theirs this time. I'm just trying to specify the smallest distro possible, because they apparently have more than one they could charge me for.
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Gerry Seymour

Professional Trainer and Speaker
(with lighting/audio experience)


anything that moves will eventually die

anything that doesn't move is probably already dead - James Feenstra

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 10:01:16 PM »

If quantity of circuits is a problem, you can run your system on one 20A circuit.  If you are given more then splitting them up is good.
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: Specifying power requirements
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 10:04:11 PM »

Thanks. If it saves some money, I'll go with a single circuit for the audio. If not, so much the easier.
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Gerry Seymour

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anything that moves will eventually die

anything that doesn't move is probably already dead - James Feenstra

Gerry Seymour

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Time for my own distro?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2010, 11:01:37 AM »

I'm considering getting a distro in the immediate future. Nothing big - probably just 6-8 20A circuits of 2x Edison. That's way more than enough room for my entire rig, even when I do bigger events and add rental lighting to what I have.

This is all prompted by the $250/day charge by a hotel for their 10-circuit distro. I'm pretty sure I can get a basic distro for less than the 2-day rental cost.

But I'm wondering what the complications are, and hoping for some input.

1. How routine is the connection in most hotels for a distro? Will I be able to get by with the same connection in most places?

2. Are there code requirements for these connections that I might screw up? I've done some wiring, but I'm definitely NOT an electrician.

3. In a separate thread, someone mentioned that they'd bypassed this cost from the hotel by using their own distro. Has anyone had a problem with a hotel still trying to charge for power usage, when they originally were charging for a distro. Is there any problem getting to the connection?

Anything else I should be considering in this? This will be a new step for me, but one I eventually have to take.
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Gerry Seymour

Professional Trainer and Speaker
(with lighting/audio experience)


anything that moves will eventually die

anything that doesn't move is probably already dead - James Feenstra

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Time for my own distro?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2010, 11:24:45 AM »

As I mentioned earlier, the only standard is there is no standard.

I work in the Midwest where rules are apparently less stringent than in other places (Chicago, East Coast, etc.) so I can't speak to other experiences.  

Generally if there is a receptacle of some kind (Edison, NEMA outlet of various kind, twist lock) you can legally make connections to this yourself without calling an electrician.  Tying into a disconnect requires an electrician.  Cam Loks in my experience can be looked at both ways, depending on the venue.

The venue may keep the breaker powering the high-current outlet powered down and may charge to power it up.  If so, you're stuck.

Assuming the power is on and the plug to your distro fits, you're usually OK.  If the venue has a different plug, you can probably make an adapter tail to connect it to your distro.

The dangerous reality is many high-current receptacles are incorrectly wired or not suitable for the purpose at hand, and put you in danger of nuking your stuff and/or hurting yourself or someone else.  Unless you are very comfortable with electrical testing procedures, I would strongly suggest not getting into the distro side of things.  I NEVER, EVER plug into an unknown supply without testing first.  This is doubly true for non-Edison circuits.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Time for my own distro?
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2010, 11:55:34 AM »

Gerry Seymour wrote on Thu, 15 April 2010 10:01

I'm considering getting a distro in the immediate future. Nothing big - probably just 6-8 20A circuits of 2x Edison. That's way more than enough room for my entire rig, even when I do bigger events and add rental lighting to what I have.

This is all prompted by the $250/day charge by a hotel for their 10-circuit distro. I'm pretty sure I can get a basic distro for less than the 2-day rental cost.

But I'm wondering what the complications are, and hoping for some input.

1. How routine is the connection in most hotels for a distro? Will I be able to get by with the same connection in most places?

2. Are there code requirements for these connections that I might screw up? I've done some wiring, but I'm definitely NOT an electrician.

3. In a separate thread, someone mentioned that they'd bypassed this cost from the hotel by using their own distro. Has anyone had a problem with a hotel still trying to charge for power usage, when they originally were charging for a distro. Is there any problem getting to the connection?

Anything else I should be considering in this? This will be a new step for me, but one I eventually have to take.


In order:

1.  Routine is a matter of what kind of business the hotel normally does.  Some do "events" and others host wedding receptions and simple business meetings.  They are the least likely to "get it."  I was in one of those places last week, but the house electrician found 60 amp service in the kitchen he could tie into; and the second answer is "probably NOT."  High current distros in the USA are typically connected by bare tails into lugs of a safety disconnect switch.  Hotels typically use the oddest connectors that Might Meet Code so the chances of someone having it low.  It's revenue preservation.  Back when I did a lot of ballroom work I carried 4 or 5 oddball connectors just so I'd know the quality of the connector (had a few hotel-provided distros with partially melted connectors).

2.  Yes.  You lack the knowledge and experience and publically state that on the internet.  Honesty is fine but if you ever have an electrical failure (fire, electrocution, etc) problem Google will come back to haunt you.

3.  Yes.  They lock up the access to the disconnect switch or the cover to the 50 amp outlet.  Or they turn it off upstream and when you call to get it turned on, they send an "event coordinator" over to the room with a form to sign, authorizing the charges for power.  While the hotel says they charge for the distro, they are really charging to make a profit.  That's why many hotels charge for regular Edison outlets, too.  Someone from the banquet/sales dept walks through the room and counts the use.

You won't escape paying for power.  You seem to have this cozy relationship with your client that is incredibly price sensitive (IIRC).  I'm not sure if you have some spiritual or financial involvement with the client, but if yes or not, the client needs to understand that *everything* has a cost and a price (they aren't the same thing).  In our contracts we specifically make the client responsible for power hook up fees, electricians, generator parking permits (bring your own power and the facility charges you a fee to park the gennie and run cable through their hallways) and everything else that results in additional expense beyond our contracted fee.  We'll make the arrangements but the client puts up the credit card to pay for stuff; or we'll handle those expenses on their behalf for an additional 20% markup and we require advance payment based on estimates.

HTH.

Tim Mc
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"Will you stand by me against the cold night, or are you afraid of the ice?" Crack The Sky
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