What Size Generator Do I Need To Run A Sound System
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Are you looking to power a sound system for an event? We look at what size generator you need to run a sound system. Read more about finding the right generator for you.
Generator Size for DJ Equipment
A DJ playing at an event of any size should know the basics of generator size and what the best unit is for them. Whether that event is at a house party, at a remote festival, on the beach or elsewhere, your performance will benefit from hiring a generator.
There are many factors to consider before purchasing or hiring a generator, but it can be daunting. If your generator is too small, you will not have enough power to support all your audio equipment, and the venue and event will be left lacklustre. More damaging outcomes could also happen with the generator being overloaded, leading to electric shocks and bodily harm.
To avoid all of that, this article will go over the best generator size for your DJ equipment and ensure that your event is a success.
Most people would calculate the total of their wattage for their speakers and allow themselves a slightly bigger generator to accommodate for power surges. Since most generators are calculated and rated on their starting watts, you need to ensure that you're buying the right generator.
You can use diesel, petrol and other fuel supply powered generators, and each one offers its own pros and cons. Diesel generators are the most common type of generator, but there are more variations now than ever before.
When it comes to hosting a music event, either a festival or a concert, you will notice more benefits from a diesel gas generator than a petrol engine. They are longer lasting and more fuel-efficient, meaning you're topping up the diesel less often than with petrol.
It's worth noting, however, that both diesel and petrol generators produce dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide. This is why you must install them outside and away from guests; otherwise, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, there are more fuel-efficient generator options available to you, as inverter generators are becoming more flexible in the range that they can produce power to.
How To Power A Soundsystem Using A Generator
If you want to avoid that, here are some tips on how to power a sound system and all the equipment at your event safely using a generator.
Electrical Trip/Breaker Devices
A trip breaker device is crucial for protecting the generator and your sound equipment. Generators can sometimes experience power surges, and these electrical trip devices can prevent your equipment from malfunctioning or being damaged beyond repair. They can also protect you or other nearby guests from electrocution and other injuries and, in some cases, death.
A breaker device works by stopping the power from the generator to the sound system in a few milliseconds, significantly quicker than you can react. You can either invest in an RCD (Residual Current Device), MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker) or a Domestic surge breaker, which all have specific pros and cons. A domestic surge breaker is ideal for smaller sound systems and generators but won't protect large projects.
An RCD can safeguard against shocks and fires, especially when live wires are present.
MCBs protect electrical circuits from an over-current, and they are electromechanical devices that don't need replacing when an overload has been detected.
Keep Your Power Feed Stable
Most higher-end generators that are responsible for dealing with large amounts of electrical currents will have a voltage regulating feature (AVR) within. However, you may not have one if you hire a smaller generator, so our tip is to keep the generator powering something stable like a halogen light.
This provides you with continuous power and won't overload as often when powering more sensitive appliances and equipment such as audio amplifiers. You don't want to waste a large portion of your energy as that will only increase the fuel cost and overall budget.
Monitoring Your Power Supply
Many generators come with a monitor installed, allowing you to check the voltage and ampere supply at any given moment. This is important when running a generator to power sound equipment as there will be voltage swings and drops throughout, which can cause damage to equipment when they are too drastic.
If your generator does not have a monitor, you can buy one from an external third party, and they will work wonders. Inverter generators can produce clean power, but they will not power larger areas. If you are interested in hiring one, please contact our professionals today as they are ideal for those that want a small sized generator.
Running Two Or More Generators
You must never run two generators or more at any one time, as this can lead to severe equipment damage, bodily harm, electrocution, death and wasted electricity and power. While you may believe this can lead to greater power distribution, you would be wrong.
The electromechanical stress of two generators on the same system would be too great, and where a voltage swing may happen can lead to one or both completely burning out or underloading. Cross phasing will occur where the RCD and MCB trip breaker devices will not protect you or your equipment from electrocution due to the excess current.
Power Distribution Units
Power distribution units are another excellent way to power your sound equipment and protect them at the same time, with some models coming equipped with monitors to check levels.
Generators can produce dangerous electrical currents to your equipment, and power distribution units can contain RCDs and MCBs to stop any currents from damaging sound systems.
'Single Phase' & 'Three Phase' Output
Depending on the generator model, you will either have one phase or three-phase output, which essentially means how many supply sources you have. When you turn on a piece of equipment or light, the current flows to power it, creating a single-phase current.
A three-phase output, however, provides three live voltage lines. In this usage, 'phase' means the voltage provided, so in a single-phase source, a 230 voltage difference can be noted between the phase and neutral. As long as you're using the correct output from your generator for your sound system, and you can adjust this with an extension cable that matches the amp and voltage, you will be fine.
When you're tallying up your total wattage for your equipment, you would be wise to add an additional 20% for your generator's headroom. This refers to the surplus power that a generator has to offer, as you want to ensure that your unit isn't working at 90-100% all the time.
Having some headroom or a surplus amount of power means that your generator will provide a more consistent power supply and not struggle as much. Voltage swings and generator power cuts are also going to be less likely if you do this. Of course, the amount of headroom you require on top of the set value depends on how much power you need to generate for the scale of your event.
Choosing the correct power cable is almost as important as selecting the right generator, and they do go hand-in-hand. To ensure that you, the guests and your sound equipment are safe, here are some things to remember.
Use as thick a cable as possible, but keep it within reason. 2.5mm minimum for 10-metre length and 6mm or thicker for over that distance is the ideal.
If you can keep the cable management between the generator and your sound system as wide as possible, you will experience fewer voltage drop-outs and voltage swings, along with less chance of the cable breaking.
Generators can also produce a loud noise, which may not be an issue when the music is playing, but it can sometimes irritate. Despite this, you must keep them as close as possible while leaving a distance to ensure that no bodily harm or carbon monoxide poisoning can happen to guests.
Keep the distance between the generator and your sound system as short as possible.
On top of using thicker cables, be sure to keep the two points as short as possible, as this prevents issues from arising later down the line.
Long cables can provide more hazards to guests and are unnecessary for larger outdoor shows
When hosting a DJ event in an outdoor area such as a field or festival, be sure to use good quality cable protection and cable sheath.
The mud and abuse that comes from hosting outdoor events can take detrimental effects on your equipment, so be sure to do your research beforehand. Use the right cable ends for your equipment.
Cee-form ends must match along your cable run, so be sure to use the right plug and socket also.
Earthing A Generator
In situations where you are using a 10kva generator or smaller, there will be a frame to earth the generator with. However, models that are larger than that will require the use of an earthing rod.
This will be essential for ensuring that the generator and the output is secure, and the earthing rods must go a minimum of four feet deep.
This keeps the access to the generator easy, ensuring that your ability to repair with tools and top up oil is not ruined, but the generator is safe during the show. You must also use earthing rods if you are going to use your generator across multiple days or on a daily basis throughout your event.
Power Up Your Soundsystem
When everything has been set up, you should begin slowly powering up your sound system. You should not start everything all at once, as you will overpower the generator.
The power amplifiers use a huge amount of starting wattage, so you should be aware of what equipment will cause the most power drainage. Test out every piece of equipment and LED lighting to ensure that the generator doesn't go idle when the amps aren't being used.
What Size Generator will Power my DJ Equipment?
To calculate the correct generator for your DJ equipment, you should begin by adding up the amps peak load of all your gear. Standard gear can be run on a generator that ranges from 2,000-2,8000 watts, but larger events will need more.
A 2000w sound system won't be running that figure continuously and will only have peaks at startup and random intervals. For the most part, you will find that the continuous rate for all equipment is lower, so it'll fall around 600 continuous watts for this instance.
The power specifications and rated wattage are generally written on a label on the gear or somewhere within the manual for that device, which allows you to begin to total the requirements for all. You should be focusing on the power draw of each device, which can be listed in volts, amps or watts.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to what size generator will power your event. Some will benefit from smaller generators, but this depends on your powering needs. You can create an impressive show for your stage with the right generator, but you must do your research as there are more options than you realise.
If you have further questions about how to power DJ equipment, please reach out to us, and we will happily advise you on the best measures to take and ensure your event is a roaring success.
Do you need a generator to power DJ equipment?
If you are looking for a generator to power DJ equipment , call us today on 01172 541069 for help choosing the right generator for you.
Now you know the requirements for common appliances you might be using at your events, get in contact to find the right generator for you.
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