WHEN IT COMES to ensuring that the event will go on, generators can make all the difference between success and failure. Savvy generator manufacturers are producing units that keep the power flowing without breaking the bank.
When deciding to supply auxiliary power for an event, one of the most common mistakes event planners make is “trying to design their electrical layouts themselves and ordering too much power,” says Gary Meador, North America event manager for The Woodlands, Texas-based Aggreko Event Services. On the flip side, others “will try to skimp on power to find some budget relief and either don't order enough, design something that is not safe, or end up having to order more to get the job done. Often this approach ends up costing more than if they would have let an expert design and provide the system in the first place,” he notes.
To help clients determine their power requirements, Aggreko offers a team of event specialists who can “value engineer your needs,” he says. Aggreko's most popular generators are its Twinpacks — two 100- to 400-kW generator units operating in a 20-foot container — that are connected to each other and share the load, thereby supplying uninterruptible service to an event.
When it comes to questions about generator size, going to the pros for answers can prevent costly over- or undersizing mistakes. “These days we are receiving an increasing number of inquiries on how to properly size a generator and find a fit that offers more flexibility to the event coordinator,” explains Lisa Buchanan of Carson, Calif.-based MQ Power. “The end result is the coordinator can offer their customer much more.” To this end, MQ Power manufactures the Crawford line of studio units in a choice of outputs — from 250- to 2400-amp capacities — that can be customized for use at carnivals and fairs, sporting events and concerts.
For events where silence in a necessity — such as weddings or theatrical productions — Buchanan suggests MQ Power's Whisperwatt Ultra-Silent generators, which are available in six sizes, from 25kVA to 150 kVA. She says the units feature “fuel-efficient diesel engines and compact designs that allow access to even the tightest spaces,” and also utilize “an auxiliary cooling fan mounted inside the housing” that reduces noise levels.
Ken Cannella, national sales director for Minneapolis-based Cummins Power Rent, says that his clients also are demanding quieter, cleaner and more fuel-efficient rental generators. He notes that Cummins' generators feature “advanced sound attenuation,” which ensures that generator noise does not become a problem at an event. To comply with customer demands, the new Cummins 300 kW generator “meets the EPA's stringent Tier II environmental standards and would be a good choice for multi-day events when costs have to be controlled,” he says.
While manufacturers across the board agree that power isn't usually something that can be scrimped on in order to fit into a budget, fuel efficiency is the one area that can make a major difference to a budget without compromising power needs. Meador notes that fuel efficiency is something that planners often overlook when considering generators. For clients with budgetary as well as power concerns, his company offers the Greenpower units, which feature double-walled fuel tanks and skids that will contain all fluids, in the “unlikely event” of a leak, he says. The units are also “very fuel efficient, sometimes burning several gallons less per hour than other generators,” saving money and helping the environment in the process, he adds.
According to Bobby Braun of Kohler, Wis.-based Kohler Event Services, the company's 50kW generator is an excellent choice for catered events, as its larger fuel tank and good fuel economy mean it can run for longer periods of time before it requires refueling. He adds that when lighting systems and HVAC are involved, the multi-purpose 180kW unit “has the ability to power up to four of Kohler's HVAC units, and does so very quietly.” As for trends in generator use, his company is “seeing more events taking place in remote locations, where power isn't usually available,” he notes. “We're witnessing more customers choosing generator power over shore power for cost advantages as well as for reliability reasons.”
Aggreko Event Services, 281/298-9151; Cummins Power Rent, 877/769-7669; Kohler Event Services, 888/769-3794, 920/459-2551; MQ Power, 800/883-2551