Your Questions: How To DJ With Portable Power?

Last updated 28 March, 2018

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Steve on a mountain
Ain’t no mountain high enough when it comes to DJing (that’s Digital DJ Tips scratch tutor Steve Canueto getting some serious altitude in La Concha!) In today’s weekend question, our reader asks about portable power options that they can juice their mobile DJ rig with.

Digital DJ Tips member DJ PayPuz writes, “As a mobile DJ, sometimes I’m challenged with finding portable power – some clients want a DJ in a park or on the beach. It would need to power a MacBook Pro laptop, Pioneer DDJ-SX2 controller, and two 15” Electro-Voice EKX 15P speakers. I’ve been thinking about solar powered generators or anything portable…low noise of course. Any ideas?”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how much power your gear consumes. What you’re looking for isn’t the output in Watts, but the power draw. Figure out the hunger level of your laptop, controller, and speakers and this will tell you how much to feed them. You can typically find this on your equipment or by looking up the model specifications online. If you have trouble getting an accurate consumption measurement you can use a Kill-A-Watt power meter or similar.

Whatever portable power you choose should cover this requirement and then some, using only 75% of its potential and leaving the rest as headroom. Really though, don’t use anything under a few thousand VA (volt-amps), and remember generally people get what they pay for, so avoid the corner cuts if possible.

Inverter or 3-phase power generators do the job well, so something in the Honda EU series is a quiet and clean option. Regardless of what you use, decide whether you need this generator consistently for gigs, or if it’s better to rent one for the day. Quality generators usually don’t come cheap, so if it is a one-time gig, it might prove beneficial to borrow one for the event and include the rental cost in your fees. Either way, be up front with your clients on what you can provide and determine the usefulness of renting versus owning a portable power source.

Have you played gigs in the forest with trees that don’t have outlets? How did you power your equipment? Any generator suggestions or advice to offer? Feel free to share with us below!

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