Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Forgive, if this was discussed before. I did see where someone had advised to use a 500 watt Portable Power Station. I looked at Lowe's today & I am confused. It said 750 Amp & upon reading the internal papers it said it could only pull 200 watts continuously. I plan to use 6 LED lights with comparable 60 watts each. Please help me understand what I need.
Thanks so much, Peggy
The portable power stations are designed to jump start a car or supply power for an inverter for only a short time. The simple way to say it is that more battery power means more weight. Those little stations don't weigh very much.
The 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs draw about 9-12 watts, which is about 1 ampere from the battery. You want to use six lights, so that is about 6 amps plus another amp or so more just from the conversion inefficiency. That adds up to a conservative 8 amps from the battery. You want to go all day long so let's call that 8 hours for a 10-6 show day. That means the battery has to deliver 64 amp/hours (8 amps times 8 hours is 64 amp/hours). That's the minimum you need to run all day long with lights. No way will one of those little packs last that long. That calls for a battery the size of a medium boat battery which weighs about 35-40 pounds.
Your best bet is to invest in a large boat battery, which weighs about 70 pounds, and use your cart or dolly to move it. Even a small folding cart makes it very easy to move. You need a battery charger to recharge it and those can be found at Sears for half price when you catch it on sale. The larger boat battery will run the lights you mention all weekend long with no problem. Find yourself a 300 watt inverter, which are available fairly inexpensively pretty much anywhere, and a three outlet cigarette lighter style connector where all you have to do is connect the red and black wires to the battery and plug the inverter into it.
An extra thing to do is to pick up an automotive outlet USB charger so you can recharge cell phones or tablets while you're at the show.
Don't waste your money on those power stations. Just because it says it can deliver 500 watts or 200 watts is meaningless advertising babble. What they don't say is for how long, and that's what you need to know. If you doubt it, buy one on a credit card and take it home, charge it up, hook up your lights and watch to see how long it runs. My money is on it not lasting more than an hour with a 60 watt load. After that, take it back and get a refund.
A boat or marine battery is specifically called for in an application like this as repeated discharges will damage a car type battery quickly, and boat/trolling motor batteries are made for this type of use. BTW, a battery like that also makes a great tent weight :-)
WOW! Thanks for all this info!
You know, been doing shows over 40 years, but...it's time to upgrade finally. Thanks for help. Us Ole' Timers need it too.
I have one of the little power supply units. For me, they're great for an outdoor show. They supply all the power I need as nobody around here needs lights for outdoor shows.
When I do indoor shows I always spring for the electricity because when I light my booth, it's just plain easier to pay the extra $25 to $50 for the plug.
Robert, you are a wealth of knowledge. Thanks. You say "You didn't say if your LED lights were regular ones that use wall power or run directly from 12 volts DC, so I assumed they ran from 110 VAC." You are over my head here. They are regular spot fixtures with normal LED bulbs.
Hey, check this out! I found this...it has all this contained. What do ya think?
It sells for $550.
I checked the specs on it and it has a 51 amp/hour battery so you would be able to get about 7-8 hours out of it before they battery runs down and shuts off. The Xantrex has the advantage of being 'turn-key" in that all you have to do is plug it in to recharge, and plug in your light cords to run the lights. By comparison a 125 amp/hour battery runs about $125 at Auto-Zone or Sam's Club, a charger can be picked up for around $30, and an inverter can be picked up for anywhere from $25 to $60 depending on what you need. The type of inverter you need doesn't need to be large, around 200 watts is big enough, and should be around the low end of the price range which is probably about $30. You would get over twice the power (about 2.5 times as much) for less than half the price, but not nearly the convenience of having it in one package with a handle and wheels.
Thank you for all this information Robert, and thanks Peggy for kicking off this thread - it's something I've been trying to research as well. I have seen some information about different types of marine batteries (starter vs deep cycle) and also different battery chemistry (flooded, gel, TTPL, Li NMC, AGM). It seems like a deep cycle battery is the type we would want, but I don't understand which type of chemistry is preferable. I saw that gel, AGM, and flooded batteries need to be properly vented, and I imagine that for shows we might be trying to keep the battery hidden in potentially a small space, so I'm guessing TTPL or LiNMC would be a better choice? Or do those have other pitfalls that I'm not yet aware of? Any guidance you have on this would also be appreciated; I want to make sure I can get a solution that will not only work, but also be safe. :)
Here in New England outdoor shows end at 6PM at the latest. The best shows are Friday 10-5, Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 10-4.
I bought one of those little marine batteries, it was around 120 USD on amazon and it is TOO small... I thought it would be plenty, but I can't even run 2 15W LED's for an entire 6-8 hour day.
What was the amp/hour rating? I've used the 125 A/H batteries from Autozone and was able to run 6 CFLs at 75 watt equivalents for 7 hours, and that was a much larger load as each bulb pulled 27 watts for a 160 watt real load. That was close to a 15-16 amp draw from the battery so the calculations worked out about right for me.