Generators: Generating additional revenue

Offering mobile power sources can be a plus for party and event


Mobile generators have long been a staple among equipment fleets of rental companies whose customer base is composed primarily of construction and construction-related services. However, for companies that cater to event and party planners, portable power equipment may be somewhat unchartered territory.

Yet, with the growing trend of events traditionally held indoors moving to outside venues, providing portable power equipment is necessary to complete the total event.

Offering a mobile generator provides rental companies the ability to be a one-stop solution for their customers. If a store that has all of the other party and event items can’t provide a generator to power a heating or cooling system, the customer will have to look elsewhere for that one component of the overall rental package. This is an inconvenience that could jeopardize the relationship with that rental customer.

For rental company managers who recognize the importance of being a total-package, one-stop events rental solution provider, and want to add generators to their rental fleet, it can be best to start small and expand as needed.

The size of generators to carry as part of an inventory should correlate to the size of the party and event rental business. For example, if the majority of event-related customers are considered smaller party services companies — 200 guests or less — accommodating that number likely drives the size of the tents in stock, which in turn, drives the size of the event’s infrastructure. The size of the generator needed to power the infrastructure will vary accordingly.

If a company rents smaller tents, heating and cooling loads will be smaller and lighting requirements will be less, hence overall power requirements are likely to be smaller. This would likely require generator models ranging from 20 to 50 kW. If a company carries larger or multiple tents to handle bigger events, then the size of the power requirements will increase, along with the size and scale of the whole operation.

In selecting generator models that will best fit the company’s needs, rental company managers should begin by analyzing the customer base, keeping in mind that in the generator world bigger isn’t always better. The most important factor for maximizing generator investment is to match all the various event power requirements with generator capacity. Arriving at the appropriate determination involves identifying the power requirements of the infrastructure, which includes all of the components of the event that will require power to operate.

Generator selection for specific venues needs to be properly assessed. Having a generator that is too small is not going to work, but having one that is too big also presents challenges and the most obvious is cost. The greater the generator capacity and output, the more the unit will cost. The amount a store can charge for generator rental is proportionate to output, so if the generator has more capacity than what’s required for the majority of a rental store’s business, the return on investment is going to fall short of the revenue projections.

Matching the right size generator to a specific outdoor venue or event is actually a fairly simple process that involves preparing a thorough inventory of all power requirements. The heating or air conditioning system is the most common and requires the greatest amount of energy. Next, the lighting, both indoor and outdoor, along with catering equipment also will require power.

Considering entertainment needs is the next step. If there’s going to be a band or a DJ with lights and a sound system, these all have power requirements that need to be calculated. Understanding the scope of the event and then tallying up all of the power requirements as accurately as possible from each of the different sub-segments will require making additional inquiries to several different sources, including the caterer, music and sound providers and lighting system personnel.

In addition to the generator unit itself, rental suppliers also need to stock accessories and components to connect the generator to various elements that require power. Accessory needs will vary based on the different elements present within the venue’s infrastructure that need to be powered. The most important accessories are power cables, distribution panels and related connections.

A visit to the event site and a study of the layout is critical for mapping out where the generator should be positioned, and the most efficient and least unsightly power connection routing system.

Rental consultants and setup personnel should avoid running extension cords all over the event site. A well-laid-out plan that pinpoints locations for power cables to be discreetly brought to the point of use with distribution panels is essential. This allows for direct connections, just like one would experience in an indoor venue. The distribution panel has sockets on it, similar to a home. In the end, the rental company should be able to create solutions and provide value beyond simply renting the customer a generator.

There’s a lot of coordination that goes into planning these events. Talking to the electricians on-site regarding how they wish to have the various components powered is extremely important. Rental companies also should be aware of any local regulations or electrical safety considerations before mapping out the plan. Conversations with all of the other event services subcontractors should be initiated to make sure all needs are being met, so that there are no surprises on the big day.

While all of this may sound a bit overwhelming and well beyond the “just sign on the dotted line and we’ll deliver” approach, consider the bigger picture and the ultimate payoff. Event planners, brides, community leaders and performing artists are not only willing to contract through a one-stop solution services provider, but they expect it. Event planners may not have the knowledge or experience to map out a network of electrical cables or debate the pros and cons of positioning a generator on the north or south side of the reception tent.

Quite simply, it’s expected that the rental company handles all the details. Providing generators can be a bit intimidating with little prior experience, but with some careful planning, proper training and establishing an efficient “event power rental system,” a rental company quickly develop the needed expertise.

The additional income also can offset any initial apprehension or anxiety. That said, perhaps the more important motivator in favor of establishing a power generator rental component in an event rental business is the risk of not doing so.

As outdoor party and event venues continue to grow, so too will the expectations of the services offered by the rental company of choice for event planners. If offering generators and related setup services aren’t an option, event planners are likely to exercise their option of taking their event rental business elsewhere. RM

Todd Howe is manager — global generator products, Doosan Portable Power, Statesville, N.C. He can be reached at 704-883-3611 or


Generator selection considerations

If you decide to add generators to your party and event inventory, there are several things to consider when picking the right unit to meet your needs and satisfy your customers. They include:

  • Capacity. Match generator output with power requirements as closely as possible.
  • Noise. Quiet operation is essential for all events.
  • Connections. Convenient access to connection panels for ease and versatility, and illuminated connection areas.
  • Control panel. Easy-to-read, illuminated meters for at-a-glance monitoring capability.
  • Environmental safety. Fluid containment systems for safeguarding event sites in the event of a leak.
  • Fuel capacity. Fuel tank capacity will affect runtime.
  • Versatility. Multiple voltage capability.
  • Safety. Voltage selector switches provide quick and easy configuration, and prevent the ability to change voltage during operation and risk component damage and/or failure.
  • Serviceability. Easy access to daily service points.

— Todd Howe