Skip to main content

Exhibit Booth Electrical

One of the most challenging aspects of any trade show experience is something we all often take for granted: power. But make no mistake, creating and implementing a solid plan for your trade show booth electricity is absolutely crucial. Even a small mistake or oversight can quickly add up to unanticipated costs and delays that derail your entire trade show experience.

To help you avoid that scenario, we’ve collected some tips to help you address all your convention and trade show electrical services needs. Use our trade show electrical services guide to ensure your exhibit booth electrical set-up runs smoothly and efficiently, saving you time and money. 

Six Keys to Efficient Exhibit Booth Electricity
Understanding Your Power Needs

One key metric to help you gauge power needs is a simple equation: 1000 watts = 10 amps. This information is vital in figuring out your booth's power needs, since electrical power is sold in these units at most trade shows. 

Not sure about the power requirements of your devices? Check the product label or do a quick Google search. For example, a typical laptop usually needs around 65 watts to operate. Also, don't forget to factor in the power usage of items like vacuums and charging devices.

Here's a simple three-step process to help you out:

  1. Write down all the electrical items that will be in your booth. This could include lighting, computer gear, display screens, your company's products, AV equipment, and lead retrieval machines.
  2.  Note where these items will be located in your booth, and check the power they require. You can usually find this info on a label at the back of the item. Most items need 110/120-volt power, but machinery might require 208 or 480 volts.
  3. Figure out how much power each area of your booth will need. Add up the wattage for the 110/120-volt devices in each area, and make sure you order an outlet that can handle this total. It's best to order a bit more power than you think you'll need in order to avoid any tripping or outages. Remember to order separate outlets for each electrical device, with at least 5 amps at each location.

Crafting an Electrical Floor Plan
A detailed floor plan is crucial for the electricians setting up your booth. It should include a scale, booth orientation, the Main Drop Location (MDL), and power distribution points with exact measurements. The MDL is where power enters your booth and is then distributed. To avoid cords running around your booth, you might want additional drops. 

Just remember, these will cost extra. Make sure your floor plan is clear and concise when printed, and always check in before the show to ensure the venue has received your order and there are no questions.

Ordering Trade Show Booth Electrical Labor
Before ordering electrical services, review the union guidelines for the trade show. This will tell you what your team can do and what must be done by the show's contractor. 

There are three main types of work:

  1. Floor Work - involves running power under the booth flooring.
  2. Booth Work - involves making connections during or after booth construction.
  3. Ceiling Work - involves installing rigged lighting and other overhead items.

For safety, we recommend letting electricians handle the final connections. A rough estimate for the pace of floor work labor is three extension cords per hour. Remember, some shows offer packages that include materials, labor, and outlets, while others require you to order each separately.

Packing for the Show: Trade Show Booth Electrical Accessories
When it comes to packing for the show, there are a few electrical essentials we recommend you bring along. These items can ensure your booth runs smoothly, and they can save you money since renting them at the event can be quite costly.

  • Power Strips and/or Surge Protectors: Powering multiple devices at once is common at trade shows. Power strips provide additional outlets, while surge protectors save your expensive equipment from voltage spikes that could potentially damage them. 
  • Extension Cords: Extension cords are a must-have at any trade show, especially at a variety of lengths. They provide the flexibility to position your equipment exactly where you want it, regardless of where your booth's power outlets are located. 
  • Extra Printouts of Your Electrical Diagrams: Mistakes can happen, and documents can get lost while setting up your booth. Having extra copies on hand can be a lifesaver if the original goes missing or if you need to clarify anything with your team, the venue staff, or the electricians.
  • Extra Light Bulbs: If your booth design includes specific or custom lighting, having extra light bulbs on hand is a smart move.
  • Batteries: For any wireless devices or equipment, make sure you have plenty of batteries in needed sizes. Better to have them on hand than to scramble looking for them during the show!

On-Site Check-In
Once you arrive, double-check the electrical placement in the exhibit booth against your electrical floor plan. If you spot any issues, get in touch with the show electrician right away.

Are You Exhibiting a GES Show? Don't Miss Out on Discounts!
By following the steps below, you can enjoy special rates:

  1. Send in your completed Payment and Credit Card Authorization.
  2. Place your order for Electrical Outlets.
  3. Schedule Electrical Labor if needed for distribution or electrical apparatus hook-up.
  4. Return a completed Booth Layout Form, preferably in PDF or CAD format.

Remember, to benefit from these discounts, we must receive all the items listed above on or before the discount deadline date. If any item is missing or incomplete (ie., unreadable floor plans, missing pick-up times, bulk power needs without a main drop location, revisions to power or floor plans), the order will be deemed incomplete, and standard rates will apply. 

Focused on Exhibitor Success 
Helping exhibitors have a successful show is our top priority.  If you’re looking for a partner to help with exhibit planning details, download the exhibitor budget worksheet and continue reading our next article in this exhibitor roadmap.

If you are exhibiting at a GES show, click here to find your show and look for GES Exhibit Flooring+, discount flooring packages, and GES Exhibit Furnishings+, discount furniture packages as well as Exhibit Systems+, trade show booth rentals with custom fabric graphics.