Top Four Benefits of 380VDC in the Data Center

Tech Score

Top Four Benefits of 380VDC in the Data Center

By Jeff Hudgins, VP of Engineering, NEI, Inc.  |  January 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the January issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

The battles between AC and DC power have been around since the late 1800's. It was Edison (DC) versus Westinghouse and Tesla (AC). The early battles were so intense that Edison went around to state and local fairs zapping animals with AC to “prove” that AC was unsafe. He even went as far as inventing the electric chair to show that AC power was so unsafe it could be used to reliably execute criminals.

In the end, AC won out because of the transformer and the synchronous motor. But after 120 years, a new battle has surfaced. As the number of data centers increases, the industry is looking for more ways to lower power usage and cost. If you look closely at equipment running in the data center, you actually find that internally lots of things must convert to DC. The most energy efficient-solution consists of the highest voltage with the least number of power conversions.  Enter 380VDC.  The four primary benefits from implementing a 380VDC solution for the data center are reliability, space, efficiency and cost.

First, the reliability increases nearly two times as the number of conversions are cut in half, which reduces the opportunity for failure across the entire infrastructure. Second, the amount of floor space required can be reduced by one-third as there is just less equipment required.Third, the overall power savings can reach as high as 25 percent by eliminating power efficiency loss at each conversion from AC to DC. Last, the capital and operating costs are reduced by nearly 25 percent because less equipment means less to buy and maintain.

So with all these advantages, who wouldn’t jump on it? Well it turns out that many people are charging into the 380VDC arena. Japan was out in front with its green IT initiative that started in 2009.  The open questions around standards are quickly being addressed around things like power supply connectors and connectors for rack interconnect. And implementation of DC interconnect wiring schemes is reducing the safety risk below the actual AC voltage human hazard limits.

So what's the final score? The benefits of implementing 380VDC are compelling in the data center, but it will take strong cooperation from equipment makers, data center managers, and regional power utilities for the industry to fully realize these benefits.

Jeff Hudgins (News - Alert), Vice President of Engineering at NEI, writes the Tech Score column for TMCnet. To read more of Jeff’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf