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Hello,

 

We are going to be doing Howard Alan's new Spring Shadyside show in Pittsburgh next weekend. It's an outdoor show, hours are till 8 or 9 p.m., and they recommend that exhibitors bring lighting.

 

Does anyone have any experience with power sources for electricity at outdoor shows?  We've heard that a marine battery can be used, but that we'll need some kind of converter so we can plug our lights into it.  Also a charger. 

 

Any input would be very helpful!!  Thanks!!

 

~Emily

 

 

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I'll reply with some brief information, Emily, to give you something to work on until others with a bit more first-hand experience than I can reply.

If you go to any marine/boating store you can get detailed information about this. In a nutshell, you would need a marine battery and an inverter (not converter), plus a charger for the battery (so you can plug the battery into an AC outlet overnight for recharging). The battery and inverter are amazingly lightweight and compact, and not expensive. Assuming your power draw is not outlandish, total cost outlay is less than $250. It will help if you can tell the friendly sales rep what your total power load is for all your lighting (this is measured in amps, or amperes, and is listed on the labels of the lights you are using).

Some (not all!) shows allow a gasoline-powered generator that can handle a higher power load, but they are much more expensive: The best of the lot, a Honda 2000 ei, is about $1000 used and close to $2000 new. (Presumably, one could be rented.)

Because of exhaust and weight/space/noise issues associated with any generator, the marine battery/inverter/charger solution is a much better one if your power considerations are more modest.

The cheapest and lowest-tech solution is to go out and buy portable battery-operated lanterns. Each runs off 4 D-cell batteries, and you can hang 'em from the supports on your tent with bungee cords or zip ties. They provide a broad, fluorescent light source that may not be the best solution for a jeweler, but if this is a one-show requirement, they may get you through the night. Good luck!
You only need lights for Saturday night.

Depending on where your space is or who you are next to. If you are within five booths at the S. Aiken end of the show, you can get electricity from an outlet up above the windows at the drug store. I worked that out years ago and always provided enough electricity for each of the last few booths on both sides of the street to run two lights. Just having lights on when your neighbors don't won't be as much of a draw as a section of booths being light up. Be friendly with your neighbors if they are using a generator and ask if you can borrow electricity for a single light. Carry a few simple clip on lights with 60 watt bulbs and a few long extension cords.

Honda makes a silent generator and the older ones are quieter than the newer ones. I still have my old Honda EX 650 which can run 550 watts continuous and almost not be heard even if standing a few feet away. But it's heavy because of that insulation, about 60 pounds.

Howard is one of the few promoters that allows generators but it's really up to the Fire Marshall. If you do use a generator, lock it to your display or a tree with a bicycle lock so it won't disappear if you take a bathroom break. Some artists chain it around the corner and run a 50 or 100 foot extension cord. Make sure to have an extra quart of oil and a gas can to refill it if you run it all day.

Never leave the generator in your booth at a show overnight, even chained up. Chances are it won't be there in the morning if you do.

Larry Berman
Digital Jury Services
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100
I just picked up some lights for my booth, and plan to run them on a Black & Decker Power Pack. The lights I got are swing-arm lamps from Office Max and I plan on using 60 watt day-light CFLs in them. Right now my local Lowes has the power packs on sale for $75. The lights and bulbs come to about $16 each. I found a 3/8 inch bolt inserts into the bottom of the lamp, or the lamps can be inserted into a piece of 1/2 inch conduit - which I think is the same size as Pro Panels. I use gridwall and plan on attaching 3/8 bolts to the panels with gridwall panel hinges.

I've found that even in bright sunlight coming through my white tent, some pictures just look better with a light on them. Inside shows sometimes have shadows, depending on where the overhead lights are. I will probably use the lights inside and out at most shows. Just another 2 boxes to carry, and a few more cubic feet of space filled in the back of my truck!

Dave, I tried this with some CFL's.  Each was about 35W. Equivalent of 100W.  The B&D Power Pack just din't hold up.  It only has a 7.5aH battery, or something like that.  If you don't have the Power Pack, or just bought it, hook up all your lights, turn it on and give it a time test.  Hope you have better luck. 

 

Further down there is mention of the Xantrax 1500.  Good unit with the case, wheels, inverter/charger built in.

Thanks, Walter. More questions: what kind of actual light fixtures are you using to place the bulbs in? And . . . how do you plug these fixtures into the power pack? (We had one of these power packs a while back [actually for jump-starting the van we had at the time] ) and couldn't seem to find any kind of adapter to allow us to plug our lights into the power pack.

I'm still somewhat of a newbie to forums in general so am really thrilled to get your answer so quickly! Thanks again, ~Emily

Walter Klein said:
Don't use a Battery. Use A Battery pack, the ones they use to jump a car Battery. Plug it into a wall plug days before so it can be fully charged. Charge it in the Motel. Use 5 -60 watt Floresent bulbs and it will last 8 hours. Also a RV fan will run on the same back up for 9 hours. Walter
Thanks, Geoff, for all the good info regarding lighting options! A few more question: First of all (because I found out from Larry Berman's reply that Howard Alan does allow generators), are the Honda generators heavy? How many gallons of gas do they take, and how much gas would they use up for, say, 4 to 8 hours of lighting (our ideal lighting situation will draw at least 500 watts, but we may not run the lights all day)? Can you fill the generator at the gas station, or do you have to carry gas with you? (We drive a smallish SUV that's already packed to the gills.) And one more . . . when you say that the marine batteries are surprisingly light . . . would that be, say, under 50 pounds? Thanks again, and also I appreciate the prompt reply! ~Emily
Geoff Coe said:
I'll reply with some brief information, Emily, to give you something to work on until others with a bit more first-hand experience than I can reply.

If you go to any marine/boating store you can get detailed information about this. In a nutshell, you would need a marine battery and an inverter (not converter), plus a charger for the battery (so you can plug the battery into an AC outlet overnight for recharging). The battery and inverter are amazingly lightweight and compact, and not expensive. Assuming your power draw is not outlandish, total cost outlay is less than $250. It will help if you can tell the friendly sales rep what your total power load is for all your lighting (this is measured in amps, or amperes, and is listed on the labels of the lights you are using).

Some (not all!) shows allow a gasoline-powered generator that can handle a higher power load, but they are much more expensive: The best of the lot, a Honda 2000 ei, is about $1000 used and close to $2000 new. (Presumably, one could be rented.)

Because of exhaust and weight/space/noise issues associated with any generator, the marine battery/inverter/charger solution is a much better one if your power considerations are more modest.

The cheapest and lowest-tech solution is to go out and buy portable battery-operated lanterns. Each runs off 4 D-cell batteries, and you can hang 'em from the supports on your tent with bungee cords or zip ties. They provide a broad, fluorescent light source that may not be the best solution for a jeweler, but if this is a one-show requirement, they may get you through the night. Good luck!
I'd check with Howard's office to see if they do still allow generators. The last time I did the show they did but that was about three years ago. 954-472-3755.

Larry Berman
Digital Jury Services
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100
Thanks, Larry. I think we'll skip the generator this time, but will definitely check with Howard if and when we do decide to use one.

Larry Berman said:
I'd check with Howard's office to see if they do still allow generators. The last time I did the show they did but that was about three years ago. 954-472-3755.

Larry Berman
Digital Jury Services
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100
David,

Thanks for the info. I agree that sometimes even at outdoor shows lights can be helpful. Once we nail down how we are going to light this show, we'll probably take the lights to a number of outdoor shows!

Dave Hinde said:
I just picked up some lights for my booth, and plan to run them on a Black & Decker Power Pack. The lights I got are swing-arm lamps from Office Max and I plan on using 60 watt day-light CFLs in them. Right now my local Lowes has the power packs on sale for $75. The lights and bulbs come to about $16 each. I found a 3/8 inch bolt inserts into the bottom of the lamp, or the lamps can be inserted into a piece of 1/2 inch conduit - which I think is the same size as Pro Panels. I use gridwall and plan on attaching 3/8 bolts to the panels with gridwall panel hinges.

I've found that even in bright sunlight coming through my white tent, some pictures just look better with a light on them. Inside shows sometimes have shadows, depending on where the overhead lights are. I will probably use the lights inside and out at most shows. Just another 2 boxes to carry, and a few more cubic feet of space filled in the back of my truck!
Will home depot have the right kind of plug? This was a couple of years ago, but the outlet on the battery pack looked kind of like a car cigarette lighter outlet.

Walter Klein said:
You can buy 12 voit bulbs at Home Depot and a fixture to hold them. We use a bar that spans the front of the display to hold the light bar. I got ahead of my self about the 60 watt bulbs. That is for you have regular power and you are limited to 200 watts of power. As far as how do I plug into the Battery back up, change the plug on the light bar you choose to plug into your battery back up.
Hi Emily,
Heading out to a show so this reply will be quick (you may have gotten your questions of me answered by others): The marine battery is light enough for almost anyone to carry. Generators are quite heavy.

I don't recall Honda capacity, but I have a 5 gallon gas can that I fill at a gas station when I arrive at a show, and that gets me through 2 days with a little left over. As Larry mentions, you should always have gas and a quart of oil with you if you're going to run one. (You'll also need a long extension cord, a power strip (if you're running >2 outlets) and runners (rubber mats that will cover the cord so no one steps on it and trips). So it's a chore.
Thanks, Geoff! Good luck at the show. Looks like we are going to go the marine battery route! Will save the generator ideas for the future though.

Geoff Coe said:
Hi Emily,
Heading out to a show so this reply will be quick (you may have gotten your questions of me answered by others): The marine battery is light enough for almost anyone to carry. Generators are quite heavy.

I don't recall Honda capacity, but I have a 5 gallon gas can that I fill at a gas station when I arrive at a show, and that gets me through 2 days with a little left over. As Larry mentions, you should always have gas and a quart of oil with you if you're going to run one. (You'll also need a long extension cord, a power strip (if you're running >2 outlets) and runners (rubber mats that will cover the cord so no one steps on it and trips). So it's a chore.

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