Exhibitor Tips – Electrical Tips

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Cost saving tips – Electrical Services

Organizing Electrical Service for your trade show display rental can be a bit confusing and intimidating. When ordering, you’ll be ordering electricity, and the cords and labor to get the electricity distributed around your booth. Here’s what you need to know:

Once you know the basics, it’s comforting to know that most trade shows are setup to service your trade show booth similarly. As a starting point, it always helps to find out where the Exhibitor Service Center is located. For smaller trade shows, all the service desks might be located in the same area on or near the show floor, including an “Electrical Desk” staffed by Electrician employees. For example, Mandalay Bay is one of the primary convention centers in Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay maintains a permanent in-house electrical department that is located just outside the trade show floor, whereas The Las Vegas Convention Center, another prominent convention center in Las Vegas, uses a preferred Electrical company (Edlen Electrical) that moves people and equipment on the show floor for each event. Edlen’s service desk is located on the trade show floor with the other service desks, typically in a central location, so it’s not too far from any one of the trade show booth spaces. Typically the differences are subtle, but the fees for items that involve labor and lift equipment can sometimes be surprisingly different.

Tip: Electrical Services are usually either in-house or subcontracted. If these services are in-house you may be going to a separate office outside the trade show floor. If the show facility doesn’t have an in-house electrical department, then it’s typical that the electricians are located at the Exhibitor Service Center. For big trade shows it’s common to find Electrical desks strategically located around the show floor.

Tip: Don’t make your trade show booth electrical diagrams overly complex or small, make the dimensions readable. Remember the show will likely copy and print your diagram onto a 8×11 sheet of copy paper, which can be hard to read. Electricians will make assumptions when they can’t make out details, dimensions or text explanations.

Tip: It’s good to know that you’ll pay for 500 watts minimum for every location that you need power coming up from beneath the carpet into your booth space.

  • Electrical forms are found in your Exhibitor Services Manual. Alternatively, you can call Exhibitor Services directly.
  • Advance pricing typically ends one month before the show starts. It’s 30-50% cheaper.
  • Your electrical service order should be placed before you arrive to setup your booth space.
  • A legible CAD electrical diagram of your display should be attached to your order.
  • There are two kinds of Electrical work: floor work and booth work. Plan for both separately.
  • Floor work is typically done just before exhibitors move in.
  • Check your floor electrical placement before starting the setup of your booth.
  • Don’t hesitate to go to the Service Desk to check status if the work is not done on time.
  • Event facilities can handle Electrical Services differently with in-house or preferred contractors.

Electrical Basics

Once you know the basics, it’s comforting to know that most trade shows are setup to service your trade show booth similarly. As a starting point, it always helps to find out where the Exhibitor Service Center is located. For smaller trade shows, all the service desks might be located in the same area on or near the show floor, including an “Electrical Desk” staffed by Electrician employees. For example, Mandalay Bay is one of the primary convention centers in Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay maintains a permanent in-house electrical department that is located just outside the trade show floor, whereas The Las Vegas Convention Center, another prominent convention center in Las Vegas, uses a preferred Electrical company (Edlen Electrical) that moves people and equipment on the show floor for each event. Edlen’s service desk is located on the trade show floor with the other service desks, typically in a central location, so it’s not too far from any one of the trade show booth spaces. Typically the differences are subtle, but the fees for items that involve labor and lift equipment can sometimes be surprisingly different.

Electrical Tips

Tip: Electrical Services are usually either in-house or subcontracted. If these services are in-house you may be going to a separate office outside the trade show floor. If the show facility doesn’t have an in-house electrical department, then it’s typical that the electricians are located at the Exhibitor Service Center. For big trade shows it’s common to find Electrical desks strategically located around the show floor.

Tip: Don’t make your trade show booth electrical diagrams overly complex or small, make the dimensions readable. Remember the show will likely copy and print your diagram onto a 8×11 sheet of copy paper, which can be hard to read. Electricians will make assumptions when they can’t make out details, dimensions or text explanations.

Tip: It’s good to know that you’ll pay for 500 watts minimum for every location that you need power coming up from beneath the carpet into your booth space.

Tip: Don’t make your trade show booth electrical diagrams overly complex or small, make the dimensions readable. Remember the show will likely copy and print your diagram onto a 8×11 sheet of copy paper, which can be hard to read. Electricians will make assumptions when they can’t make out details, dimensions or text explanations.

Tip: If your booth display is a trade show display rental, then ask your rental project manager to provide you with the Electrical diagram that indicates the location of the power, how much power is at each location, where the main drop is located, and how the power will be coming into your booth space. Additionally, the diagram should indicate the booth numbers for the neighboring booth spaces. This is the booth “orientation.”

Tip: It’s good to find out how the main power will come into your booth space: from the ceiling, from under a plate in the floor, or from a panel next to a structural column. It may vary booth to booth, even within a show. It’s a good idea to email the electrical contact with the question, to avoid assumptions. If the “main drop” is located under your reception counter, you won’t want a thick cable running from the ceiling to the reception counter.

Union Tip: Most Electricians are members in their local Electrical union. Every show has a main Electrical Steward whose job is to make sure everyone ‘plays by the rules.’ As the Exhibitor you will get away with more than union labors setting up your trade show booth. Use common sense, and if you do some self service work and get caught, don’t argue. More often than not, Electricians are just protecting their hours, so bigger booths are more closely watched them smaller. Most of them are reasonable if you are considerate.

Computer Tips: When it comes to what’s allowed, computers and monitors on your booth display are somewhat of a gray area. Electricians know watts, volts, amps and wires well, but they aren’t trained in connecting monitors to computers or splitter switches etc. Worst case scenario. you’ll be directing the electrician looking over his shoulder. Best case scenario, the Electrician will allow you to do the electronic and computer wiring yourself.

Halogen Tip: Most show lighting uses Halogen bulbs. Halogen display lighting has excellent output of bright white light. The challenge with Halogen is that it generates heat, the bulbs and fixtures become very hot, and the oils from handling the bulb can cause the bulb to burst. There have been fires as a result. The Las Vegas Convention Center has restrictions about Halogen Lighting; all halogen bulbs are to be sealed so that the bulb cannot be touched. Many portable “boom fixtures” that are sold have removable glass plates. This is a telltale sign that your lights are not sealed. We get lots of last minute calls from desperate exhibitors who have been told they cannot use the lights on their display. Please talk with us if you’re not sure about your light fixtures.

Transformer Tip: Keep in mind that many display lighting fixtures have bulky transformers with prongs. These transformers pose a challenge with power strips; a typical 6 outlet power strip can only accept 2 of these bulky transformer plugs. However, there are other alternatives to a power strip. Talk with us to get a recommendation for a product that fits your application.

Rental Tip: One clear advantage in renting your trade show display is the attention to electrical detail that you get for each rental. By default, your rental company is responsible to make sure the power is correctly ordered, the connections properly compatible, and the wires properly concealed, for each show.

Terms Tip: ‘Trade Show Exhibits’ and ‘Exhibition Stands’ are the same as ‘Trade Show Booths’ and ‘Trade Show Displays.’ At one time, “Displays” were portable and “Exhibits” were custom, but there is no longer a distinction between the two terms. Outside of the US, ‘Exhibition Stands’ is the term most commonly used. ‘Portable,’ ‘Modular,’ ‘Hybrid,’ and ‘Custom’ are also common industry terms. These terms, like ‘displays’ and ‘exhibits,’ have lost their distinction, and many booths can be classified in one or more of those categories. For example, some portable displays are modular and custom as well. Most Exhibit Companies offer portable, modular and custom displays and exhibits.

Our Rental Project Managers are happy to explore your Display lighting and Electrical options and make suggestions so that your trade show experience is the best it can be. Call us at 888-323-2830.

Talk with one of our experienced Exhibit People

Talk with one of our experienced project managers. Chances are good that there are ways to cut your electrical costs through streamlining electrical labor, or using LED technology to reduce your electrical needs.