In 2017, data centers consumed an astronomical 416.2 terawatt-hours of electricity. That accounts 2 % of total global use, and it’s expected to reach an unprecedented 5 percent of global electricity consumption by 2020. The energy efficiency of data centers has changed rapidly over the years.

As any data center manager knows, ensuring continuous uptime is essential to business continuity. uptime means effective distribution of power within the data center facilities  in a safest and most efficient possible way. 

Continuously, the needs of a data center are always changing, as it expands and facility managers add new equipment. The power consumption of data centers increased by 150 % between 2000 and 2008.

Surprisingly,  at that time most companies weren‘t even aware of the amount of power their IT was consuming. 10 years ago, not even 10% of data center operators were able to provide information on the power requirements of their data centers. As a result of these advancements in power-distribution equipment have made it  irresistible for facility managers to look at upgrades as a way to increase efficiency and reliability as well as to support data center expansion.

But how can data center managers know exactly which equipment they need and when is the right time to upgrade? The following questions are critical to ask when evaluating your need for new power-distribution equipment in the data center.

Question 1: How Are Current Investments Meeting Your Power Needs?

Data center as an industry is energy-intensive, with the total cost of operations (TCO) significantly affected by the cost of energy. The number of data centers has grown rapidly over the past several years to power our connected devices and always-on lifestyles. But the energy needed to support that growth has actually been flat.

The first question to ask when considering whether to upgrade power-distribution facilities is the simplest one: how is your current facility meeting your data center’s current needs?

Of course, it’s capital intensive Replacing aging power-distribution equipment with newer ones. more effective solutions requires an investment in time and resources (not to mention capital), so it’s important to thoroughly evaluate the products you’re currently using to distribute power throughout the facility and determine whether it’s up to the challenges you’re currently facing. And if, after reviewing current investments, you find that the products you’re using are adequately meeting your needs, it may not be worth upgrading right now.

On evaluation, however, you may uncover opportunities to more efficiently distribute power or free up valuable space that can be used for more revenue-generating equipment. In this case, it may be worth investing in new technology that better meets your needs while preparing your facility for future growth. For example, cable and conduit has long been an industry standard for distributing power throughout the data center, and for many data center managers, it still works just fine. In recent years, however, busway has emerged as an attractive alternative to cable and conduit solutions, offering several distinct advantages, including the following:

  • Ease of installation. Installing cable and conduit is complex, labor-intensive work. Busway, by contrast, is a far simpler technology that most electricians with only rudimentary mechanical skills can assemble without expert help.
  • Reduced implementation cost. Paying specialized electricians for the hours of effort required to bend and route conduit is a costly proposition. Facilities that use busway can save money.
  • Space savings. Space is frequently at a premium in power facilities. Busway offers a compact technology relative to cable and conduit that leaves more room for other uses.
  • Cost-effective adaptability. With busway, facilities installing new equipment can simply add new bus plugs to their existing busway, and companies that need to move equipment can quickly and easily reconfigure their existing busway or even replace feeder busway with plug-in busway where required. This flexibility provides minimal service interruption compared with a traditional cable solution.

Busway is an especially attractive solution for power-distribution systems that are likely to undergo frequent reconfiguration or evolve and expand over time.

Question 2: How Fast Is Your Data Center Growing?

generally,Data centres have been designed to allow operational and capacity changes as well as expansions, the exponential utilisations of energy by data centers  is not new, with the amount of power consumed increasing 9% between 2010 and 2015, according to KPN Integrated.

 with the emergence of hyper-convergence and the shift of critical IT resources to virtual infrastructures, many data centers are expanding rapidly to support this growth. In such instances, new power-distribution equipment isn’t just worth considering. It’s essential to keeping the data center running efficiently and ensuring business continuity.Fortunately, this approach also enables data center managers to strategically consider future scenarios and install technology that enables them to position for and protect against power outages and other situations that could be critical for the business.

for example, as the data center expands, it may be worth considering upgrading panelboards (which are used in smaller facilities to protect against electrical overloads and short circuits while distributing electricity throughout the facility) to switchboards or even low-voltage switchgear. For larger buildings or sites, a large single panel, frame or assembly of panels can be used for mounting overcurrent switches and protective devices, buses and other equipment. These freestanding solutions are most often accessible from the front, mounted on the floor and close to the wall.

In some cases, however, more highly functional low-voltage switchgear may be necessary to protect, control and monitor critical power-distribution systems safely and efficiently. Low-voltage switchgear provides central control and protection of low-voltage power equipment and circuits in commercial installation involving transformers, generators, motors and power-feeder circuits.

Switchboards and low-voltage switchgear are essential elements of a power-distribution strategy for large and multitenant data centers, so it’s important to ask yourself how quickly your data center is expanding and seek out these solutions to ensure you can support that growth.

Question 3: How Well Can Your Data Center Handle Power Outages?

Energy inefficiencies encountered in power conversation are not to be overlooked. Power outages are inevitable and, depending on where your facility is located, can be frequent owing to weather or a host of other factors. As we have already established, downtime due to power outages can be catastrophic for any data center, making it even more essential that your facility has the right equipment to help ensure continuity even in the event of an outage.

To do so, you should look at your installed power-distribution equipment to determine how well it can switch emergency power loads, and look at one particular piece of equipment specifically: transfer switches. Transfer switches are responsible for quickly and safely shifting all electrical power consumed by the circuit, equipment or systems between normal and emergency power sources, such as a generator or backup utility feed.

Yet there are myriad options and configurations when it comes to selecting and identifying transfer switches, so it’s important to ensure that the configuration in your facility is the right one to support your needs, or whether another transfer switch is a better fit.

Transfer switches can move loads between normal and emergency power sources in two basic ways: open or closed. An open switch breaks its connection to one power source before making a connection to the other. Open-delayed switches build in a short pause before the switch to prevent higher than normal electrical current (also known as “inrush current”) from developing. Open-in-phase switches automate this process with greater intelligence and precision.

In closed-transition solutions, the transfer switch makes a connection to the emergency power source before breaking its connection to the old one. In this case, downstream loads receive continuous power throughout the transfer process.

We haven’t even begun to discuss the different types of switching mechanisms available, or the different sub-types of circuit-breaker switching mechanisms data center managers can employ. Given this broad a range of options, it’s important for facility managers to look at their current switching-technology investments, ask how well equipped they are to handle outages and determine whether new technology may better position them to ensure business continuity during the inevitable outage.