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The advantages of overhead power distribution in data centres

Home Engineering Electrical The advantages of overhead power distribution in data centres

WITH the world becoming increasingly dependent on the Internet, the need for additional bandwidth is steadily escalating. This additional bandwidth requires more and larger facilities and infrastructure, which demand more power and a dependable electricity supply.

To address these challenges most efficiently, decision-makers must take advantage of the most advanced technology available, rather than facing the needs of the future, with solutions of the past.

Data centres need to be able to accommodate more servers and facilities managers need to quickly address the constant need for additional capacity. To support the extra elements required, worldwide IT spending on servers, power and cooling and management has increased significantly over the last decade.

In addition to the increase in costs at data centres, the need for a higher voltage of power poses additional challenges. To accommodate this need, the installation of overhead power distribution systems in data centres has proved an effective way to provide increasing amperages of power.

Past power: The way it always was

Power and cooling are two critical requirements of a data centre. Previously, raised floors or concrete tiles installed onto a steel grid above a slab floor, were deployed for cooling purposes. The perforated tiles that make up the floor allowed cool air to flow out of the passage below and onto the server racks. However, this underfloor area also houses cables that supply power to the racks. As the facility expands, more server racks are installed, which require more power, in turn creating more cables under the raised floor; ultimately restricting the flow of cool air.

Disadvantages of the outdated underfloor method also include the fact that raised floors are costly and maintenance is required to remove unused cables, which tend to be abandoned and pose a risk while working with circuit breakers and cables that are not designed to cope with a given load.

Higher, sustainable busway power

Overhead power distribution – commonly known as busway systems – directly combat the traditional power solution of cables installed beneath a raised floor. Overhead systems have been proven to be both scalable and sustainable solutions to providing power.

Select busway systems also provide continuous access to power, enabling the data centre facility to always be prepared for future reconfigurations or expansion. Power is accessible at any location with various plug-in units, eliminating the need for panel boards, long runs of conduit and wire and expensive installation costs for dedicated power outlets.

With an overhead bus system, there is no need to work on live panels or schedule outages to add, move or change outlets. Busway systems eliminate the need to remove and scrap short or undersized cable whips and run new longer or larger ones. Therefore, the risk of unintended potential power outages is avoided, and racks can be installed or moved without disrupting operations.

Busways are highly sustainable systems and can be used for many years, which means there is less material waste than the traditional cables method. In addition, to cope with today’s increasing server densities, an increase in kW power density is needed, which equates to a related increase in cooling requirements. Previously, this would mean the need for additional power cables under the floor that obstruct air flow and make cooling more difficult. With the safe and energy efficient overhead busway system for distributing power, this threat is eliminated.

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