Generator Care

What Size Generator Do You Need to Run DJ Equipment?

What Size Generator Do I Need to Run DJ Equipment

As a DJ, you’re obligated to keep your audience entertained even during an outage. If the event is outdoor, you’ll need a way to power your equipment to start and keep the show running. That’s why a generator comes in handy for DJs.

It provides you with reliable power during an emergency, allowing your audiences to stay engaged in your playing. It can also give you portable power to take with you wherever the music takes you.

But for you to enjoy the best out of a generator for DJ equipment, you want to make sure you buy a model that suits your power needs. You cannot go and buy any generator that you come across. You want to make sure it runs your DJ equipment.

This post is here to guide you on what size generator to buy for DJ equipment, how many watts you’ll need, and the type of generator to buy, and how to use a generator safely when powering DJ equipment. Let’s jump right in.

How to Choose a Generator for DJ Equipment

Every electrical DJ equipment needs the power to run. In case there was a power outage, they would all die and cut your show short. But when you have the right generator for the devices, you can keep your fans engaged and keep your show running. If you decide to buy a generator to run your tools, you will understand the following selection factors.

What Size Generator Do I Need to Power DJ Equipment?

The best point to start when choosing your generator for DJing equipment is knowing the size generator ideal for running them. Typically, the sizing isn’t for physical structure by instead the wattage the generator can deliver, which changes the question to ‘how many watts do I need for DJ?’

First, you need to determine the amount of power all the DJ equipment requires to stay running. For this, I recommend you check for a power rating of all the equipment. You’re looking for watts or amps and volts of the electrical devices.

You will find these details on a sticker or print on the bottom or side cover of the appliances. If not available, check the product manual. If still indecipherable, check the manufacturer’s website; most manufacturers will list these details in the manual or on their website.

If the power ratings are given in amps and volts, you will have to convert them to watts. Most DJ equipment use 120-volts – very few run on 240 volts. For this reason, you need to take each device’s amp and volt ratings and convert them to watts by multiplying them.

Power (Watts) = Amps x Volts

The starting and running watts are almost the same when it comes to speakers, DJ controllers, and Laptops. So, you don’t have to worry much about it.

But if you still need to know it, multiply the rated watts (what you got after multiplying the amps with volts) and triple the outcome to get the starting watts.

If you still have issues know how much power your DJ power equipment needs, you can get yourself a power meter to help you get the actual power consumption.

If your power meter expresses the power rating in amps and kilowatts, you’ll need to convert the wattage from kW to watts as generators are mostly sized in watts.

1kW (Kilowatt) = 1000W (watts)

So, what Size generator is ideal for you?

Take the power consumption (in watts) of all the electrical devices you usually use for your gigs and sum them up. Assuming the rated watts of all the equipment summed up to 2200 watts, you will need a generator that can deliver 20% more to give it allowance to avoid straining the engine.

So, you need a generator delivering:

2200 watt + (20/100 x 2200 watts) = 2200 watts + 440 watts = 2640 running watts

Wattage Estimates of Most Used DJ equipment

ProductAmpere Rating (approximates)
Mixer / Controller1 Amp
Turntables1 Amp
Speakers x 214 Amp
Subwoofers3 Amp
Laptop1 Amp
Total20 amperes
Total Wattage20 x 120 = 2400 watts
= 2400 Watts
Size Generator Required2400 watts + (20% of 2400 watts)
= 2880 watts

What size generator do I need to run DJ equipment?

Now that you know the size generator you need, the next factor to consider is the type of generator ideal for DJ equipment. Here you want to make sure the generator is convenient for you if you’re a mover, safe for the equipment, and quiet enough to avoid disrupting the speaker sound. Here are a few things to consider while choosing the perfect generator type for DJing.

1. Size and Portability

If you’re buying a portable generator that you can use in most of your off-grid gigs, you will want to know how big and heavy the generator needs to be. You want a unit you can pack in your vehicle, requiring you to access the amount of space available.

A smaller generator can go a long way when it comes to portability. You can get a unit that fits in your small car boot and leave some space. However, the question of whether it has enough power will come up.

So, you want to size your generator based on the power requirement first before thinking of how much space you have. Work out the spacing by picking a generator delivering enough wattage to fit the space you have.

Don’t forget you’ll be carrying your DJing gear. So, as you work out the space available, consider the extras you’ll carry together with the generator.

2. Runtime

Now you know how big the generator has to be and how much power it has to provide. The next thing to consider is the generator runtime. You want a unit that can keep your equipment running for as long as the show runs or till the mains power is restored.

Remember, you cannot refuel a fuel generator while the engine is running or hot. So, if you pick a generator with a short runtime, there is a moment during the show that you will have to pause the music, shut down your generator, allow it to cool down for you to refuel it.

You can avoid this by getting a generator with a decent runtime, something that can cover your gig time. Estimate how long your most extended shows have gone for and use the time to pick a generator with the same run time or more when delivering the needed power.

If your longest show is 14 hours and your equipment’s power rating is 2400 watts, you need a generator that runs for 14 hours plus while delivering the 2400 watts.

Generator runtime is rated in quarter load, a half load, or full load. I’d advise you to work with either half load or 75% load. That way, you have an allowance of attaching other devices to your generator and still get the same runtime.

3. Noise

Generators produce a lot of noise depending on size and type. Some generators can get quite noisy while others are relatively quiet. What you need for your DJ equipment is a generator that isn’t competing with your speakers. You need a generator that stays quiet and does not disrupt your show.

4. Outlets

With most DJ equipment requiring 120-volt outlets, you shouldn’t worry much since most generators will have one or more 120-volt receptacles. Some even use 120/240-volt receptacles allowing you to select either of the two.

However, if you have some equipment that needs a 240-volt outlet, you’ll have to be keen as not all generators have such a receptacle. Check the generator specs for these details.

If you plan to run the equipment through the RV outlets, consider an RV-ready generator, a model with TT-30R or 14-50R receptacles.

5. Safety

Almost all DJing equipment is sensitive electronics that require pure sine power. Unfortunately, you cannot get this kind of power from all generators. That means you’re limited to inverter generators.

However, you could also get an inverter device to help make a convectional generator safe for your electronics. However, you might end up breaking your budget to get a perfect size.

So, what is the best generator for DJ Equipment?

The best generator for DJing is an inverter generator delivering 20% more power than your equipment’s power requirements. Inverter generators are quieter models with decent fuel-efficient and desirable runtimes. However, they are expensive compared to conventional generators.

You can still use a conventional generator, but you’ll have to pay attention to the amount of noise it produces and how much you’ll spend on a power inverter. What’s more, don’t forget to check the runtime.

How to Power DJ Equipment with a Generator Safely

Assuming you have an idea of the generator you’ll be purchasing for your DJ equipment, it’d be best to know how to use the generator the right way to avoid accidents, damages, and even disruptions during a show.

1. Run the Generator Outdoors and Away From the Setup

Generators need to be set like 60-100 feet away from the speakers and subwoofer; otherwise, you will mostly hear the generator. Even the quiet, high-end Honda whisper-light ones are noisy and unpleasant to be around.

If your DJ gig or show is indoors and you want a generator to run when there is a power outage, you must run the generator outdoors and away from the house.

That will not only take the generator noise away from the speakers but also protect you and your audience from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The same applies when you’re hosting the show outdoors. If you’re hosting it under a tent, you must place your generator outside it for the same reason as above.

If it’s an open-air event, place the generator a distance from the speakers. However, make sure it’s a secure spot or get someone to watch the generator as you entertain your audience.

2. Use the Right Size and Length Generator Cords

Extension cords are made differently. Each extension cable is made to handle a certain amount of current. If you’re using a 20A outlet, you need a 20A extension cord. You can use a cord with a higher rating but not lower than 20A.

When it comes to length, you want to make sure the cable you’ll be using can handle the resistance and not overheat. The table below shows the cord gauge to use for various lengths. It’ll help you pick an ideal extension cord for your generator.

DJ Equipment Extension Cord Recommendations

Equipment Amp Rating (110-volts)Cord Gauge for up to 25 feetCord Gauge for up to 50 feetCord Gauge for up to 100 feet
0-3 A181816
3-4181816
4-5181814
5-6181814
6-8181612
8-10181412
10-12161410
12-14141410
14-16141210

Never join two extension cords to extend their length. Also, make sure your extension cords don’t have compromised insulation before hooking up the generator. If you want to connect multiple devices to one extension cord, get a Generator Adaptor Extension Cord.

3. Avoid Getting the Generator Wet

Your generator must never get wet. Electricity and water aren’t buddies. If your generator were to get wet, you’d be risking electrocution and damages to the generator and your DJ equipment. Get a generator tent or canopy. It can help keep the unit dry.

4. Get a UPS

Generator power isn’t safe for use with sensitive DJ equipment unless you’re using an inverter generator. If you intend to use a conventional generator, you’ll need an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) device to hook your appliances. It will protect your equipment from unstable power and also give you time to refuel the generator.

It will also give you time to start the generator when there is a power outage – it ensures the gear that needs continuous power doesn’t shut down when the main power goes.

5. Use a Surge Protector

Generators can experience voltage surge anytime. It’d be best to use a surge protector for all the DJ equipment. Considering the amount of investment you used up during their purchase, it’d be frustrating to lose them or incur expensive repairs because of not using an inexpensive surge protector. When purchasing the device, make sure it’s a surge protector and not a power strip.

6. Watch the Generator Maintenance Cycle

Watch your generator maintenance cycle. Stick to the manufacturer’s period of changing the engine oil. Ensure the oil level is ideal before starting the generator.

Don’t plug the equipment before starting or shutting off the generator. It’s pretty tempting to leave the devices plugged in when refueling. It’s possible the generator could die on you while you’re in the middle of your gig.

Store your generator correctly after the show not to frustrate you next time you need its services. Close the fuel valve for short-term storage (one month) and allow the generator to run dry. For extended storage, make sure you drain all the fuel to the last drop and add fresh oil to the engine.

Related Questions

Is it safe to run DJ equipment on a generator?

It depends on the type of generator you’re using. If you’re using an inverter generator and the right way, it’s 100% safe. However, you will need to take some safety measures to protect the equipment if your generator is a conventional model.

These generators don’t produce a pure sine wave. That means their power output is subjected to surges that can damage your DJ equipment. However, you can make it safe by pairing a UPS and a surge protector and using them when running the equipment.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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