Three-phase vs. Single-phase Power Distribution in Data Centers

One of the single most important resources in a data center is power supply or electricity if you like. Electricity in a data center is needed in almost all operations and nearly if not all data center equipment need power to function. Everything from the servers on the floor all the way to the lights overhead use electricity.

However, while electricity is the most crucial resource for a data center, it could also be extremely dangerous, incredibly expensive and easy to misuse or mismanage. One truth that every administrator of a data center should never run from is that data centers are energy-intensive and they consume a great deal of power. That is why it is not uncommon that every administrator is scratching their head trying to look for ways of making their data centers energy efficient.

When the energy efficiency discussion arises, the first thing that should come into your head should be the type of power distribution you have in place. Understanding what type of power distribution system is in your data center is the first step towards obtaining a data center solution for your power consumption. It is very important to always have a correct underlying power distribution system installed, before installation of any equipment during data center construction. This could go a long way to shaving off your power bills, avoiding power leakages and preventing power-related accidents in the long run, and above all making your data center a lot more energy efficient which is the dream of every data center Toronto operator.

However, many operators still don’t understand the type of power distribution systems available. And if there is a chance that they know, they still don’t understand which the best for their data center is. There are two types of power distribution systems. They include the single-phase and three-phase single systems. Many operators, however, still don’t know which they should use.

Single-phase power distribution systems, distribute an alternating current of up to 120V, distributed over two wires only. That is a conductor (live) and a neutral one. These systems are generally used in residential settings that have small workloads. They are grounded on a switchboard and the current changes in size and direction at regular intervals. Nowadays, there are hardly used in data centers. This is because data centers majority cabinets are too dense and require more power voltage than 120V what a single-phase system can offer.)

When it comes to data centers, a three-phase power distribution system is highly recommended. The three-phase system is less costly to distribute. First, at a given voltage the three-phase system can provide more power than a single-phase system, essentially up to 1.7 times better. The following are the benefits that a three-phase power distribution system brings in your data center to make it an energy efficient and cost-saving data center. They include:

  • Can mix and match PDUs as required while running both 120V and 208V devices at the same time
  • By simply swapping out your PDUs, you are able to upgrade all your devices from 120 VAC to 208 VAC
  • Total installation time is reduced
  • Cabling costs are less when delivering three-phase power directly to your server cabinets