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Industry Insights

CI: Data Center Trend #1: Are there efficiency gains using 400V AC?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 | by Justin Baillargeon

As part of our recent blog series, Connected Infrastructure: Data Center Trends, we will be examining some of the top 10 trends currently in data center design. The first of these trends, 415VAC power distribution, is already commonplace in Europe (as 400VAC), but has still yet to be widely adopted in North America.

The traditional data center design, in North America, utilizes 480V AC from the utility and steps it down to 208/120VAC for the rack equipment, even though the typical IT equipment’s voltage has risen over the years to 240 volts. With a 415V/240V distribution, the line-to-neutral voltage, 240V, is already compatible with most data center equipment. By running higher voltages at lower currents, the results are smaller cables using less copper which weigh less, take up less space and cost less.

Running 400V also allows the elimination of voltage transformers, realizing anywhere from a 2-5% energy cost savings. IHS, a market research group, has reported that there is a growing adoption of 400V AC in the 3-phase PDU market with current estimates at around 8% of the market. So while not the majority by any means, 400V is something to keep an eye on if you’re looking to improve your data center’s efficiency and contribute to having a more sustainable operation.

For more information on PDUs and other related topics, including this one, check out the Raritan blog.