Portable Power Distribution

in Buyer's Guide

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Bob See about the early days of the touring industry  and the development of portable power distribution systems. The more we learn about those days the more we can appreciate today’s pre-packaged technology.


Most of the industry is standardized on single-pole cam-type connectors for feeder cable and 19-pin circular connectors for branch circuit distribution.

PRG Series 400 Power/Data Distribution System



Even when you cross the ocean there are many PDs that will accept your feeder cable and multi-core cable, though there are exceptions, like those PDs that use PowerLock connectors.











Leprecon PD Series



Of course, device connectors are a different story. Even within North America we have the option of using stage pin connectors, twist-lock connectors, Edison connectors or PowerCon connectors. England, it seems, has been moving towards the 15-amp plug (Duraplug) for dimmed power and Cee-17 connectors for non-dimmed power, or what the Brits refer to as “hard power.” But the rest of Europe is not so de-facto in their standardization. You might find IEC connectors, Schuko connectors or some other variant of the CEE standard like the CEE 7/5 French plug.








Indu-Electric North America Disconnect Series



Fortunately, today’s portable power distribution racks are typically very modular and customizable. Most manufacturers offer a range of options for modules and connector types. Some of the module options include voltage and current monitors that display the current status of the system so you can tell at a glance whether or not the mains voltage is at the proper level and how much of a load you’re drawing. Other modules provide convenience outlets for devices like data distributors or a fog machine.










Lex Powerhouse Pagoda Rubber Distro



But what differentiates portable PDs is the quality and safety features. Some PDs have double neutrals to better handle harmonic currents generated by dimmed loads, and some have electronic circuit breakers to more accurately protect the branch circuits from overloading and short circuits. Most all PDs today are listed for compliance and the enclosures meet NEMA codes.








AC Power portable power distro unit



For the amount of power that today’s shows use, our PDs do a commendable job of handling and distributing power with few problems or accidents. It’s a testament to the technology and the people who make our PDs. And most of those people are participating in this month’s Buyer’s Guide on portable power distribution. On the pages that follow, you’ll find a sample of some of the best PDs available.








{mosimage}Motion Laboratories Lighting PD







For a PDF of the July 2008 PLSN Buyers Guide, please click here .