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How to choose a generator for an inflatable cinema system

Any modern Audio Visual Equipment requires a power supply for its operation. When planning an outdoor movie screening you can almost always count on private houses, community centers and public venues to power up your inflatable cinema system.

But there may be cases when an on-site power supply is not available or its quality is very poor, which cannot guarantee a smooth run for your movie show under the stars. This is where generators come into the picture.

Types fuel generators run on 

Generators, in most cases, run on gasoline or diesel fuel. These two types of generators have a fundamentally different structure. However, at the output, both rotate an electric motor, which generates electricity.

1- Diesel generators

They are more complex in their design and more expensive. The cost of their maintenance is higher than is the case with gasoline generators.

The advantages of diesel generators include their greater potential power -- so they are usually chosen for emergency power supply to homes and businesses. Also, their advantage is the possibility of round-the-clock continuous operation.

2- Gasoline generators

For the tasks described in this article, our technical team at Big Screen Pro recommends using gasoline generators. They are more compact, less noisy, and much cheaper than the diesel ones.

Yes, their power is lower than that of the diesel generators, but it is enough to power the whole inflatable cinema system, as well as related devices.

The disadvantages of gasoline generators include the impossibility of round-the-clock continuous operation. Depending on the manufacturer, gasoline generators can work from 6 to 24 hours, after which it is recommended to turn them off and let them rest.

You can use such generators beyond the recommended time limit for continuous use. However, their durability before repair will be significantly reduced. You can get acquainted with the time of continuous operation in the operating instructions provided by the respective manufacturer.

Gasoline Electric Generator

Which power generator to choose for an outdoor movie screening - 6 Factors involved!

1- Power consumption

The greater the maximum power of a generator, the more it costs. The weight and dimensions also increase. If your plan is to use your generator only for an inflatable theater set with all the components, then you need to understand the consumption of your system.

As a rule, an inflatable cinema set-up requires about 1-2 kW of power, depending on the model. To find out the total power consumption, you need to sum up the power of each component of your cinema system (featured on each unit of your gear) or contact the respective manufacturer for this information.

After you learn the power consumption and make sure that you will not use the generator for any other (more energy-intensive purposes) you can proceed to the choice of generator power. The power of the generator you choose should be 30% (or more, but not less!) higher than the power consumption of your system.

Why is that? Generator manufacturers normally claim the maximum possible output power. In any system, there are peak surges in consumption, which means you must have a power reserve to compensate in case of such surges. Also, using 70 % or less of the peak power of the generator, you extend its service life -- since it will not constantly work at its peak.

2- Fuel consumption

Modern generators adapt the power output to the load they receive, which means: less fuel consumption with less power consumption. Also, fuel consumption depends on the brand that the manufacturer uses.

The more well-known and reliable generator manufacturer is (like, for example, HONDA), the more technologically advanced the product will be and, as a result, the lower the fuel consumption.

If, for example, you use ¼ of the maximum power of the generator, then its operation time on one tank will increase by 3 or 3.5 times. On average, a 2200 W generator consumes 1 gallon for 4 or 5 hours of operation.

Always have a spare canister

3- Refueling

The principle of refueling a generator is the same as that of a car -- nothing complicated there. You open the tank and fill it with fuel, while keeping an eye on the level indicator. Note that it is STRICTLY forbidden to add fuel while the generator is running. ALWAYS read the instruction manual before refueling.

Always calculate your generator operating time based on its characteristics before the event -- and monitor the fuel level on the indicator once an hour.

Always keep a can of fuel on hand when using a power generator.

And also make it a rule to fill a full tank before the movie screening event.

4- Noise

Simply put, there are no silent generators. Well-known manufacturers improve their models to reduce their noise (following the example of Honda with Super Quiet technology). But it is as of now impossible to completely get rid of the working generator noise.

To minimize that noise, use an extension cord to position the generator 100-165 ft away from the audience. Do not use an extension cord over 165 feet to ensure all systems work smoothly. We strongly recommend that you use only high-quality extension cords.

Here is how you can reduce air blower noise during your outdoor movie show.

5- Voltage 

Output voltage is a very important point when choosing a generator.

In the United States, a network of 110V and 60Hz is used. It's 220V and 50Hz in Europe. Some generators allow you to switch the output voltage between 110V and 220V. But most of them are made for one specific voltage. Before choosing a generator, make sure that its voltage matches the voltage of your gear.

6- Safety engineering

During operation, be sure to follow the safety precautions: use the generator ONLY outdoors, do not cover it and do not lean on the areas marked as "HOT!". Keep the generator in sight and fence off the area around it with some sort of warning tape.

Caution! Hot!

Remember that manufacturers build overload protection as well as short circuit protection into their generators. But you want to rely on the generator's normal operation range, and not on the generator's failsafe systems.

Always read the instruction manual before use!

You might also be interested in reading our article: How to choose the best outdoor speaker for your backyard theater system.


In this article, we tried to answer the main questions that our customers face when choosing a power source for their inflatable cinema set-up.

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