Data Center Power Requirements

September 15, 2019

In this competitive business landscape, quite a lot rides on uninterrupted access to data. That’s why reliability is a key concept of all data center operations. It’s also why knowing how to calculate power requirements of data centers — whether they’re standalone entities or part of a larger facility — is critical to forming a strategic plan that accurately accounts for the day-to-day running of data centers and meets redundancy needs during service interruptions.

For everything from budgeting to anticipating how server power requirements can grow in the future, having a comprehensive power needs estimate is central to the responsible running of the many components that make up the environment of the modern data center.

How to Calculate Power Requirements for Data Center Operation

To formulate a reasonable power requirement estimate, break the process into three steps. First, conduct a needs assessment, followed by an appraisal of the power capacity of the portion of the facility that’s dedicated to operating as a data center. Equipped with a needs assessment and power capacity totals, it’s possible to carry out the final power capacity computation, which can then be used to determine the power sources — both the regular electrical supply and standby generator(s) — that are needed to run the facility.

Now, let’s look at each of these three steps in further detail:

Needs assessment: Regardless of the size of the data center, any plan to responsibly support its operation begins with a needs assessment. At its core, a needs assessment determines the degree of criticality and redundancy requirements of everything from the central IT servers and UPS — or uninterruptible power supply — to supporting systems like ventilation and cooling equipment. Since individual data centers’ uptime requirements vary, an accurate needs assessment can help prevent power disruptions and/or higher costs in the future.

Power capacity needed: Since many data centers exist as part of a larger facility, it’s important to calculate the power capacity that’s required to run the pieces of equipment responsible for the data center’s operation. This list includes components such as air conditioning units, batteries and generators that may be shared with other sections and functions of the building. To ensure the calculation is made accurately, consult with data center design experts, like our highly qualified engineers at DataSpan, who know how to assess everything from critical and UPS loads to cooling and lighting loads.

Final power capacity computation: Once a data center’s total power needs have been calculated in kilowatts, it’s a matter of making a few further computations to estimate its final power capacity. This estimation can be used to determine the amount of electrical service — as well as the sizing of backup generators — required to run the facility. First, the kilowatt total should be multiplied by 125 percent to meet NEC requirements. Next, determine the AC voltage required at the service entrance — typically 480 V in America. Finally, use the formula — Amps = (kW x 1000) / (Volts x 1.73) — to calculate electrical service needs in Amps.

DataSpan for Reliable Power Solutions for Today’s Data Centers

At DataSpan, we’ve provided more than four decades of dedicated service for the power, equipment, design and maintenance needs of data centers. We’re proud to count more than half of the Fortune 1000 on our client list.

For vendor-agnostic expertise you can count on, contact us today or find a representative in your area.