Taking the Shock Out of the Trade Show Electrical Services


Electrical services are a must for all trade show exhibits, but can be one of the most misused and misunderstood trade show utility. The service offerings can be confusing and complicated to some because of how a particular vendor lists their power selections.

First, let’s discuss Amps to Watts and Watts to Amp conversions. To make it very simple if you are converting Watts to Amps simply divide the Watts by 100. This will give you approximate Amps.

  • For example a 500 Watt outlet will yield roughly 5 Amps. A 1000 Watt outlet will yield 10 Amps and a 1500 Watt will give you 15 Amps.

To convert amps to watts do the opposite, multiply the Amps by 100.

  • For example 5 Amps = 500 Watts, 10 Amps = 1000 Watts and 15 Amps = 1500 Watts.

The numbers are approximate, but very close.

Now that you know how to convert power, it’s important to calculate how much power is required to run your equipment. Simply look up the power requirements for each piece of equipment and calculate the total Wattage or Amps required. Once you have that information, you can simply calculate the number of outlets required. Multiple outlets may be required if you need more power at a certain point than cannot be handled by a single circuit.

The best thing you can do is to keep each power point on the show floor on a separate circuit. This will make it easier to reset your power and will not compromise losing the power of all your connected equipment if there is a power surge. Simply tag each line with a number on each end of the extension cord. It will help you quickly identify what goes where.

Main power drops are required for most island and peninsula exhibits. This is where the main power will be distributed. Main power may come from the ceiling as it does in the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Expo Center. Other convention centers may come from floor ports as it does at McCormick Place in Chicago, Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL and at the Georgia World Congress Center. Be sure to check your with your venue regarding their trade show electrical availability and specifications.

It’s also important not to order too much power. Things like lead machines, charging stations and LED screens take less than 500W/5Amps. Halogen lights and other more power hungry exhibit components may take more power. Remember to simply add each component together to get total power required. On a side note Las Vegas Conventions do not allow Halogen lights, your only option is LED.

Finally, always submit a detailed floor plan with your electrical order. Make sure you have the booth orientation called out on your drawing so that the power is correctly installed. Keep your order deadlines in mind because you can save money by having the order submitted early. Most discounted prices require the electrical drawing to be submitted with the show service order.

We hope that the blog will help select the right trade show electrical requirements at convention centers. When you are ready to discuss your next event, be sure to contact us at 855-MYSOURCE.