Is a Busway Power Distribution System Right for Your Data Center?


When it comes to choosing a power distribution system for your data center, you generally have two options: you can either run your cabling under a raised floor or you can suspend it along the ceiling overhead.

Why busways?

bus system

Underfloor power distribution can create a web of wires that can restrict airflow below the raised floor, which can create hot spots and cause you to overcool your data center – an unnecessary expense. Overhead busways are more energy efficient because they do not hinder airflow, allowing your cooling system to work as intended. However, if best practices are followed, you can mitigate the risk of impacting airflow and energy efficiency with an underfloor cabling system. Just keep in mind that any move, addition or change to the cabling infrastructure disrupts the airflow and efficiency.

In addition to being energy efficient, busways are also more cost and time efficient compared to a traditional power distribution system, such as underfloor cabling. With an underfloor power distribution system, you need to have an electrician physically terminate power whips from the RPP/PDU to the cabinet. Because tap boxes are factory assembled, you eliminate the time and costs associated with onsite wiring to build circuits. While a busway power distribution system will require greater investment up front, it will pay off quickly with any type of move, addition, change or new deployment into your data center.

How does it work?

UPS will feed AC power distribution into the white space via a PDU (power distribution unit) or an RPP (remote power panel). From there, it can feed into a busbar and/or individual branch circuits that would power the cabinet power strip. If you’re utilizing an overhead busway system, it will go from the PDU to the busway system, which runs across the data center’s ceiling via a ladder rack and/or by being suspended from the ceiling in some direction. Then you can build in redundancy from that direction so you have paralleling: an A and a B feed from different sources that are coming into the data center from a single standpoint.

What about voltage?

We recommend running the highest voltage possible to your cabinets as we’re seeing more installations of three-phase power being delivered to the enclosure or cabinet, which then gets broken out into a single phase by the power strip in the cabinet. The higher voltage you deliver to the cabinet, the less step downs or conversions you have throughout the architecture. It’s important to have as few step downs or conversions as possible because they all create heat and energy loss that is detrimental to the data center from an energy-efficiency and CAPEX point of view.

Using a Busway System in Your Data Center

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