A direct current data center is one in which direct current (DC) power is used instead of the more common alternating current (AC) power. Telecommunications companies are known to run on DC power.
In a DC power data center, alternating current (AC) power comes from the utility and is converted to DC using rectifiers which also charge the battery. Power from the rectifiers goes to the battery distribution circuit breaker bay (BDCBB) which transmits the power to servers placed in racks directly or through fuse alarm panels. During power interruption, the charged batteries are used for power backup.
Top Benefits of DC Power Data Centers
- Less complex. DC power conversion is less complex when compared to AC power, resulting in less data center space and equipment required. In addition, the simpler design of DC power architecture eliminates the need for phase load balancing.
- Less space. Real estate gets reduced to 25 percent when using DC power equipment compared to an AC power data center. That space in the data center can be used to install more racks and servers. As such, the cost of space and equipment maintenance is less in a DC power data center.
- Power quality. The quality of power is better in DC and the power loss is less in DC compared to AC. In AC, there are some losses of power every time the current changes the directions.
- Modular and scalable. DC power systems can be built over time as the load increases by adding more battery strings. Unlike AC power where a UPS needs to be installed with maximum power capacity from day one. Energy storage devices like batteries can be added as needed and without changing the existing architecture. As the facility grows, upgrades and installations are faster.
- Integration with other sources. DC power systems in data centers can help in integrating with energy sources like solar panels and fuel cells.
- Longer run time. During power failure the run time provided by batteries in DC power data centers is greater than a UPS for the same load.
Potential Limitations of DC Power Data Centers
- Lack of knowledge. Since very few companies have their data centers run by DC power, there is a lack of experience among data center owners, operators, and contractors. The support available from the hardware vendors is limited because of the lack of knowledge and experience.
- Lack of standard. DC power distribution systems are still missing an agreement on a standard for electrical voltages and electrical connectors. There is no industry-defined standard design for a DC power data center.
- Refactoring cost. There is a cost involved in retrofitting the existing architecture. The industry may not be in favor of DC power because of the expense of changing the existing AC power architecture to support DC power.
- Limited DC power resources. There are a limited number of servers available on the market that run on DC power supplies. The lack of air conditioning systems and fire protection systems that run on DC power make it a difficult choice to opt for a DC power distribution system in the data center.
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