Choosing a Rack Mount Power Distribution Unit for Computers and Network Equipment

The power distribution unit (PDU) utilised in data centres has been enhanced from its original design. Numerous features have been integrated to keep pace with the ever evolving information and communications technology (ICT) industry. Moreover the popularity of personal computers and the internet generated a huge need for more data centres including devices to power all the hardware devices. Thus clever power management of power boards was an illuminating necessity for ICT staff to establish better practices in the implementation and the monitoring of electrical equipment.

A PDU can be referred to as a ‘rack mount power board’ in the ICT industry. The name rack is utilised because the PDU are installed inside internationally standardised cabinet housing equipment that conform to the same rack size. For instance the cabinet equipment such as servers, network devices and other power related equipment are manufactured to specific rack sizes. Moreover a common rack size is 19 inches (482.6mm) wide where the measurement is taken.

19 inch rack mount power strips have outlets to connect electrical power cords from servers and network equipment. Additionally, the power board can utilise, for example, 6 power outlets, or as many as 20 outlets integrated into the power board. Furthermore these units can be mounted horizontal, vertical and even floor mounted. A data centre may require features like surge overload protection, thermal magnetic fuses and inbuilt power meter displays for monitoring purpose.

The remote device monitoring in data centres and server rooms enhances the daily-operations for energy management. Authorised ICT staff can remotely access and control PDU to ensure the computer network devices uptime is maximised. Furthermore remote power management allows staff to be alerted of problems promptly. Additionally power consumption can be monitored for analysis, stability, capacity planning and reporting purposes to senior management. The information gathered can provide valuable insight to power consumption for the network.

PDU a.k.a power strips in some countries will have a specific power rating; hence this should be checked before interconnection between hardware. The power strips utilised in cabinets with multiple servers can draw high currents. Voltage, power and current ratings require attention during the planning process. In addition, even though manufacturers are becoming more environmental-friendly the actual power consumption of hardware in data centres is high.

The power strips can have mixed output socket configurations such as IEC sockets and general purpose outlets (GPO). Some suppliers can even customise the PDU for you in specific layouts for large orders. IEC power boards are ideal because they require a specific interface type for connection. IEC power cords can be interconnected to suitable IEC power strips, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and server equipment.

Some power strips are available with outlets on both sides i.e. front and rear surfaces of the power board. Additionally there are power boards rated to 10 amps and 15 amps. You’ll find the earth pin on the 15 amps plugs will differ in size, for example the 15 amps earth pin will be larger.

There are clever power boards on the market which can improve stability for networks and save business money on energy costs everyday.

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