We’ve used many different types of bounce houses as well as the blowers needed to run them. I wrote this article to explain everything you’ll need to know about your bounce house electricity usage.
Bounce houses require electricity to use. The blower needs electricity to pump air into the unit to keep it inflated for the duration of the bounce house use. The exception is smaller bounce houses that are inflated once and sealed. These are typically smaller indoor units designed for small children.
Different types of blowers will use more or less electricity depending on the size of the motor. There are some simple calculations you can make to determine how much electricity you’ll use, and how much it will cost to run a bounce house for an hour, or for the day.
Do Bounce Houses Need To Be Plugged In?
Yes, bounce houses need to be plugged in to inflate. Except for small indoor kids toy bounce houses, all bounce houses will have a blower that needs to be plugged in to keep the bounce house inflated. The bounce house blower will need continuous power, and be running the entire time the bounce house is in use.
Most bounce houses, whether you buy or rent, will come with a blower rated for 115 volt. A blower rated for 115V can be plugged into a normal residential household outlet. If no outlet is available, the next best option is to use a generator producing the correct voltage.
Most people will plug right into an outdoor outlet on the outside of their house and have no issues doing it this way.
Most rental companies will only allow you to use one 50 ft extension cord which they usually provide. So you will need to set up the bounce house within 50 feet of an outlet. A 20 amp outlet is preferred, but one small blower can run on a 15 amp outlet no problem.
If you’re setting up your own bounce house, you may have some wiggle room with the rules here, but there are some safety precautions you should take. I recommend using a 12 gauge extension cord for anything over 50 feet, and a 20 amp outlet. 14 gauge extension cords will work fine for anything under 50 feet.
Most outdoor outlets on a home are 20 amp outlets, and safe to use for a bounce house blower.
A dedicated outlet is recommended, but not many homes have a dedicated 20 amp outlet on the outside of the house. A dedicated outlet just means that the outlet has nothing else on the circuit with it, it will have its own breaker in your panel.
If you simply unplug everything else on the same circuit as the outlet you’re using for the blower, you won’t be risking overloading the circuit. It will essentially be a dedicated circuit (that breaker will only be powering the blower).
Usually an outdoor outlet is on the same circuit as other outdoor outlets and sometimes some outlets in a garage.
The risk of running other equipment on the same circuit as the blower is that you could overload the circuit and trip a breaker. For example, running an electric air compressor, an electric smoker, and the bounce house blower, could overload a circuit and trip the breaker.
Bounce House Electricity Usage
Most bounce house blowers will be rated for 115 volts, and anywhere between 7 to 14 amps. You can see why we suggested a 20 amp outlet above, if you’re using a 2HP 14 amp blower, you would be maxing out the 15 amp breaker and risk dealing with tripped breakers all day.
There are typically three sizes of bounce house blower, 1HP is mostly used for smaller bounce houses, 1.5HP is used for medium sized or combo bounce houses, and 2HP is used for large or obstacle course bounce houses.
Here’s a quick chart to give you more details:
|Bounce House Size||Voltage||Amps||Air Volume|
|Small||115 V||7 A||1170 CFM|
|Medium / Combo||115 V||9 A||1300 CFM|
|Large / Obstacle||115 V||14 A||1440 CFM|
If you notice the larger bounce houses will need more air being pushed into them to stay inflated. The larger bounce houses will require multiple blowers or larger blowers to push the required amount of air in.
To find the amount of electricity you’re going to use, multiply the voltage by the amps to get watts per hour, and then divide by 1000 to get kilowatts per hour.
115 volts * 9 amps / 1000 = 1.035 Kilowatts per hour.
This will be more useful to know later on when I talk about calculating the costs of running a bounce house for the day. I also have a chart of the most common blower sizes and the costs later on, so this will only really be useful to know if you have an odd sized blower and you have to do the math yourself.
What Size Blower Will You Need
In general, a bounce house will need a blower rated for 115 volts and between 7 to 14 amps to inflate a bounce house properly. Larger bounce houses may require a second blower, and an additional circuit to keep it inflated. Blowers between 1 to 2 horsepower are commonly used to keep bounce houses inflated.
Here’s a handy chart to help you decide what size bounce house you have, and what size blower is needed to inflate it.
|Bounce House Dimensions||HP||Amp|
|14′ by 14′ or under||1 HP||7 A|
|Between 14′ and 17′ by 20′||1.5 HP||9 A|
|Above 20′ by 20′||2 HP||14 A|
|Above 26′ by 20′||2 x 1.5 HP||18 A|
For most residential bounce houses a 1 or 1.5 HP blower should work just fine. When you start getting into the higher tiered, more expensive, commercial bounce houses, you will need to worry about getting a 2 HP or maybe even multiple blowers.
Here’s a video that gives some more in depth detail about the bounce house blowers, in case you wanted more info about them.
What It Costs To Run A Bounce House
The amount of electricity a bounce house uses depends on the size blower you’re using. A small 1 HP blower will cost about $0.13 an hour, a medium 1.5 HP blower will cost about $0.15 an hour, and a large 2 HP blower will cost about $0.22 per hour. The average cost to run a bounce house for the day is about $1.28.
Running a bounce house is really not very expensive in terms of electricity costs. Here’s yet another chart to let you quickly see what it will cost you per hour and per day to run the bounce house. These calculations were made based off the US average cost of electricity at $0.14 per Kilowatt hour and an 8 hour day running time.
|Bounce House Size||Blower Size||Cost Per Hour||Cost Per Day|
|Medium / Combo||1.5 HP||$0.15||$1.20|
|Large / Obstacle||2 HP||$0.22||$1.76|
|Large / Obstacle||2 x 1.5 HP||$0.30||$2.40|
Bounce House Generators
If your bounce house is going to be over 100 feet away from an outlet, you may be better off using a generator to power the blower. Many bounce house rental companies will allow you to rent a generator for an extra fee. But if you own you’re bounce house, you will need to get a generator yourself.
The key here is making sure your generator will completely power the blower without any lag. If you use a smaller generator, the blower will struggle to keep the bounce house inflated, which could be dangerous to the jumpers inside.
To determine the size generator you need, you’ll want to find the watts needed to run the blower. If the watts aren’t listed on the blower itself, simply multiply the voltage and amperage of the blower to get the wattage.
I’ve found that a 4000 Watt generator works great for most blowers, even 2 HP blower units. Here’s a 4000 Watt Portable Generator (link to Amazon) to give you an idea of what you’re looking for. You should be able to find a generator that will work great for under $400.