Rack PDU Components | Easy Guide

Every network system needs feeding. Electronic hardware can’t perform any task without powering. Thus, to make your server system work, you should plug it into a power distribution unit.

The PDU is a device the task of which is to connect the system to electricity. The device converts the alternating voltage into a constant one and supplies it to the components of the network system. Also, the device can protect computing hardware from power surges.

The Importance of Rack PDU

With the development of technologies, businesses require higher performance from network systems. Employees face the necessity to increase the density and power requirements of modern computing systems. For example, while the IT industry considers 10kW per rack to be the norm, more and more facilities try to teach the indicators of 15kW. This inevitably leads to increased consumption of electricity.

Standard power sockets can’t deal with such high loads. Their throughput is lower than the requirements of a standard network system. Thus, specialized high-load server rack power bars, more on the website, are applied for feeding components with the required power.

Types of Rack PDUs

Here, system administrators distinguish between three types of PDU components:

1. Basic

This is a classic solution for server racks. They are usually used to feed critical active equipment within the system. They are characterized by low cost and serve as entry-level options for plugging devices into power systems. They can be configured, taking into account diverse receptacle and electrical parameters.

They meet certain requirements to fit most data centers. Devices are compliant with regional norms, depending on the served territories. For example, if sockets are distributed in EMEA, they should meet CE requirements, while for North America, UL standards should be satisfied.

2. Monitored

As clear from the name, this type of PDUs allows controlling the level of consumed energy and the distribution of power between active hardware. This solution allows system administrators to pump or monitor power usage effectiveness (PUE). The device has all the needed configurations for managing this information remotely.

Due to such solutions, system administration can get quick access to crucial information and evaluate the efficiency of electricity consumption. It is possible to set such devices to alarm administrators of breaches. These solutions are ideal for high-density server rooms.

3. Switched

This is the most advanced type of PDUs. Its basic functionalities are similar to monitored ones, but the main difference from the above-mentioned class is the ability to not just control but switch on/off them remotely. It means that system administrators can manage the functioning of PDUs remotely; they switch on and off sockets, as well as reboot power at each outlet.

This solution is perfect for large or remote data facilities and allows limiting power feeding to avoid overloads.

PDU Components

A standard device consists of the following components:

  • Main input breaker. It is used not only for electrical safety but also to disconnect the consumer from electricity. By switching it off, the feeding of all the devices connected to the outlets stops.
  • Output transformer. The device is used to step up or step down the voltage to power a network system.
  • Sub-feed breakers. The circuit breaker protects the sensitive load from excessive current flow by shutting down the power supply when the current reaches a predetermined level.
  • Control panel. Management and configurations are carried out via the panel.
  • Communication module. Devices are designed to communicate with controllers within the network and other technological hardware.
  • Infrared ports.

How to Select the Best Rack PDU?

When choosing the most appropriate models, consider the following criteria:

1. Power requirements

Determining the needed power requirements is one of the main steps when picking a PDU. It is important to calculate how much electricity is required to feed all the components of a network system to ensure its smooth and uninterruptible functioning.

Moreover, when dealing with the issue of feeding network systems, it is important to consider the environmental factor since additional hardware is used to maintain the optimal temperature. Thus, a certain portion of power will be left to feed fans and other devices.

2. Power configurations

There are single- or three-phase PDUs. Which type of device to choose depends on the kind of power supplied to the data center. These devices are distinguished by the location of the phase. Thus, the phase can be located on the distribution panel or on each rack. Most data centers use three-phase solutions.

The power rating of the PDU determines the level of current required. For example, if the power circuit is designed for 20 A, then when a current is applied above this mark, the fuse will trip.

The most common input voltage for rack PDUs is 208/240V, but 400V solutions are becoming more common these days.

3. Horizontal or vertical mount

System administrators can install rack PDUs both vertically or horizontally, outside or inside the body. Horizontal models feature taking up additional usable space (like 1U or 2U) and having 8-16 outlets. Vertical PDUs provide more options for connecting hardware: they support up to 54 outputs and do not take up space because they are fixed on the back or side of the case.

When choosing between a horizontal and vertical solution, consider how much you can limit the space inside the rack and how many outlets you need to work. If you plan to connect new hardware in the future, there should be additional free sockets in the rack.

Pay attention to the types of connectors in the rack. In modern computing equipment, there are C-13 and C-19 connectors, which means that users need to choose a rack with its optimal ratio.

PDUs allow system administrators to manage computing hardware and monitor the status of load on the system. These are compact and economic systems that control equipment within a single rack. Not everyone knows that the choice of PDU affects the reliability, flexibility, and scalability of the data center.

When choosing a rack PDU, consider the size of the data center, its level of technological maturity, and power requirements. These criteria determine the type of PDU, the method of attachment, the parameters of the plug and PDU cable types, as well as the number and type of outlets.

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