Pop Up Power Supplies

POP UP POWER: Understanding power distribution units for outdoor spaces

  • 13 Sep 2022

George Parker, Director of Pop Up Power Supplies, answers five of the most common questions asked by specifiers and site owners regarding power distribution units for outdoor spaces.

Q) What is an outdoor power distribution unit?

A) Outdoor power distribution units are permanently installed in locations such as a public park, pedestrianised street or visitor attraction to allow equipment to be connected to a power socket as and when required. There are three different types available from Pop Up Power Supplies – the pop up or retractable unit, the in-ground unit or the power bollard.

Each of these power units is configured and manufactured to suit the requirements of the site, based on a range of different sized units that ensures we can provide a solution for every outdoor application. Within each unit, we can provide a number of sockets up to a total load of 32, 63, 125 or 600 amps, depending on the type specified, which gives users the facility to open up the unit and plug-in easily and safely.

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Q) Where can an outdoor power unit be installed?

A) Our outdoor units are designed to be highly robust and built to stand the test of time, making them suitable for a wide range of outdoor locations. 

Amongst the most popular places where the units are installed are market places, pedestrianised streets and plazas, courtyards and squares in town and city centres. This is because they add functionality to these public spaces for events, such as street food fairs and entertainment/fun days, which can help attract people into town and boost footfall for other local businesses. 

But it is not just town and city centres where outdoor power distribution units are ideal. Adding power units on industrial sites can make outdoor spaces more versatile, useable and productive, visitor attractions can add greater flexibility to spaces and historic sites can benefit by enabling additional outdoor facilities to be connected during peak periods – and they can be used by grounds maintenance personnel too.

Q) Why would my outdoor space need to be equipped with power sockets?

A) It is all about adding functionality to a space and having the freedom to use the space when you want to without having to think about having to hire temporary generators – which can be expensive and noisy.

You could try running extension leads from nearby buildings but that wouldn’t be particularly safe – lengthy trailing cables present a major trip hazard, and when you have members of the public on site in potentially large numbers this is the last thing you want.

Instead, by installing a power distribution unit in the place where you think users might want it makes so much more sense. For example, you might run a restaurant that has an under-used courtyard. This could be transformed into a revenue-generating area by adding a power unit, which would give you the ability to connect lighting, sound systems, TV screens and till points, as well as set up a stage for live music performances.

Q) How do I choose between the different options?

A) Each of the three different power units we offer have their advantages, so it really comes down to the site and the anticipated usage. 

If your outdoor space is historically sensitive or you want to maintain minimal clutter at eye level, you would be best choosing either a pop up unit or an in-ground unit. With both of these, the unit is virtually unnoticeable when it is not in use. With an in-ground unit, the lid can even accommodate grass, paving and tarmac to match the surrounding surface.

If you want to integrate your power distribution unit with other street furniture, the best option would be a power bollard. These are elegantly designed, with a variety of top designs available, and they can be specified in any RAL colour. 

Q) How do I begin designing and specifying outdoor power units?

A) There are a number of key questions to ask to start the process of designing and configuring your outdoor power distribution unit or infrastructure which we cover in our video CPD training module. This is designed to get specifiers thinking about the site’s proposed purpose and viability with answers to questions including:

1) Is your location actually suitable?
2) Are your site conditions right?
3) What is the anticipated usage and demand?
4) What type of unit would work best?
5) How will you maintain safety and security?
6) What sort of aesthetic impact are you looking for?

Once you’re confident you know the answers to these questions, you are well on the way to deciding the most appropriate design and specification. At this point an order can be placed and, once manufactured and delivered, we can also assist in ensuring that installation is done correctly to deliver the perfect end-result.

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