Deciphering Trade Show Electrical Orders

One of the most common questions we get regarding trade show service order forms is about electricity. In fact, electrical questions run a close second to questions about the dreaded Material Handling form. Most exhibitors know whether or not they need electrical service to their booth, but beyond that, things begin to get a bit hazy. Electrical orders are actually fairly simple once you determine your needs. Of course, the simplest solution is to rely on your exhibit house. They will be happy to figure out what level of service you need and fill out the forms accordingly. Here's what you need to know to do it yourself.

Electrical Provider: First, be aware that you will generally be ordering electrical service directly from the venue where your trade show is taking place. The show decorator (Freeman, GES, etc.) will include the order form in the Show Book, but it will be submitted to the convention center, hotel, or conference center where your show is to be held. Just be sure you submit the form to the venue and not the decorator.


Electrical Needs: Next, you will need to determine your electrical needs. Obviously if your display includes lighting, you will need to know the total wattage that it requires. Ask your exhibit house. They will be happy to share this information with you. Otherwise, the wattage of most display lighting is generally listed on the fixture, bulb, or LED. Simply add up the total wattage. A typical display might have three 150 watt halogen lights, two 50 watt accent lights, and a 15 watt LED light:ElectricalOrder

(3x150 watts)+(2x50 watts)+(15 watts)=565 watts

In addition to your display lighting, you will probably need some additional electrical capacity for laptop computers, phone chargers, LCD screens, and the like. Just add those to your total need. Some typical consumption estimates:

Laptop Computer 20-100 watts
Desktop Computer 60-300 watts
Phone Charger 5 watts
32" LCD TV 70 watts
52" LCD TV 150 watts

Let's take the 565 watts we need for our display lighting and add a laptop computer and a 32" LCD TV.

565 watts (display lighting) +100 watts (laptop computer) +70 watts (LCD TV=735 watts

Now that we know we need 735 watts, lets take a look at the order form. Note that on the example order form, pricing is different for the ballrooms and the rest of the venue. There is also the option to have electrical service 24 hours per day instead of just during show hours.

In either case, the 501-1000 watt (10 amp) service will be needed for this example. It really is just a simple matter of adding up the wattage of your electrical devices and ordering at least that many watts of service.

Here are a few more tips:

  • For typical 10x10 booth spaces, your electrical outlet will typically be located at the back of your booth space, centered left to right. There is usually no need to include a placement diagram for a 10x10 booth.
  • Larger booths will require a diagram showing the location of each electrical outlet. Larger booths with multiple outlets will generally require additional labor for placing the outlets, which is charged on a time and materials basis.
  • Most exhibitors will be adequately served by one of the 120 volt service levels. This is equivalent to typical household electrical service and will operate most all lighting needs and consumer grade computer and electronic devices. The 208 volt single phase and three phase service listed on most order forms is reserved for heavy industrial equipment and perhaps the largest, most elaborate multilevel exhibits. If your needs include the 208 volt service, work closely with the manufacturer of your equipment to determine the level of service you need to order.

Following this guide will be your ticket to easily figuring out your electrical needs. Of course, if you would rather not, Dynamic Displays would be happy to assist you in figuring out your electrical needs for your next trade show.