Electrical power is often by far the biggest ongoing expense in a data center. As an indication, compared with the power consumption of an equivalent-size office block, a data center uses about 40% more and places conditions that are significantly more stringent on power availability too.

From HVAC, computing equipment, and lighting to perimeter alarms, badge readers, and coffee machines, nothing works if power is out.

Data center electrical design, therefore, benefits from careful consideration and good resources. 



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How Much Power Do You Need?

So that you can start with the end in mind, these resources help to calculate the power a data center needs.

  1. Data Center Power Requirements is an easy-to-read introduction that continues to be relevant even if it dates from 2001. Among other things, it explains why many data centers waste money because of over-dimensioning for power.
  2. Calculating Total Power Requirements for Data Centers gives sample calculations and a worksheet to help you assemble a first cut of power requirements.
  3. For IT equipment power needs, you can also make estimates using this online data center power calculator.

Electrical Safety in Data Centers

Remember, safety comes first! To design safety into your data center electricals from the start, check out the following resource:

  1. Electrical Safety describes the need for safety, the roles of different actors in the design and implementation of electrical systems in buildings, and relevant building codes to observe. A further link is given for each safety or regulatory organization listed.

Training in Electrical Architecture and Equipment

After figuring out your power requirements and understanding safety rules and regulations, it’s time to discover possible installations and equipment.

  1. The Data Center Energy University offers a wide range of online training courses covering subjects like rack and row-cooled architectures, battery technology, comparisons of AC and DC power distribution choices, and scalability, reconfigurability, and efficiency in data center power-distribution configurations.

Additional Best Practices Information

All of the above can already give you a solid grounding in data center electrical design basics. The following practical information can then help you consolidate what you know:

  1. Dollar figures on costs for Tier 2 and Tier 3 data centers are part of these Best Practices for Design Data Center Facilities. The data are from 2005, so work in a suitable factor for inflation. The guide also includes additional content about optimizing your approach to a data center, allowing you to put the information on the electrics into the broader perspective of the overall data center operations.
  2. Alternatively, Seven Best Practices discuss cooling, power, and power backup aspects with a handy checklist to ensure you’ve covered the bases.

Making the Data Center Electrical Design

The final step is to draw up the design.

  1. Forget those rolls of paper and blueprints! With the right electrical design software, you can do it all digitally. Potential advantages include automatic cost estimating, rapid updating, ease of sharing, and collaboration between designers, contractors, and owners.

Which data center electrical design resources have you found to be the most useful? Share your opinion with other readers in the Comments section below.

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