What Is a PDU and How Does It Enable Power Monitoring and Control?

Posted by Enconnex Team on March 30, 2021

| Categories: Power Distribution Unit

Power is a foundational element of data center operations. Without a highly reliable power source, data center operators cannot ensure the availability and performance of IT systems. That’s why the power distribution unit (PDU) is one of the most important components of the data center infrastructure.

The job of a PDU is to bring power from a primary electrical source into the data center. Floor-mounted PDUs, also known as main distribution units, can supply 300kVA or more to power multiple server racks and cabinets. Server-rack-level PDUs can be mounted on a wall or the outside of a server rack to save valuable rack space. However, most people think of a PDU as an oversized power strip that mounts inside a server rack or cabinet, minimizing the distance between the IT equipment and an available outlet.


Server Rack PDUs: The Basics

Server rack PDUs come in a variety of form factors. 1U and 2U units fit in the equipment mounting area of a 19- or 23-inch server rack and 0U units that mount vertically in the back of a server cabinet. Horizontally mounted PDUs typically have eight or 16 outlets, while vertically mounted units can have up to 60, depending on the height of the server cabinet.

A server rack PDU can supply AC or DC power and may have various types of receptacles to support different equipment plugs. Best-in-class units are configurable to meet specific needs. Larger PDUs have color-coded sections that coordinate outlets with a circuit breaker to prevent unbalanced loading. Locking features reduce the risk of accidental disconnects.


Intelligent PDUs

Intelligent PDUs connect to the network for remote monitoring and management using Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). They can also integrate with data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software to provide real-time visibility into power usage and generate reports on power consumption trends through the data center facility.

Intelligent PDUs fall into two broad categories:

Metered PDUs

Metered PDUs capture a variety of metrics — including current, voltage, actual and apparent power usage, and more — at the input or outlet level. Input metered PDUs provide real-time phase and circuit breaker monitoring to help technicians optimize energy use and avoid overloading circuits. Outlet metering provides data on power consumption at the individual device level to enable better deployment decisions. 

Switched PDUs

Switched PDUs provide precision control of devices for advanced power management and reduced risk. Technicians can power on, power off and reboot individual outlets to power cycle individual devices, enable power sequencing and prevent the unauthorized installation of devices on unused outlets. Group reboot features make it possible to control multiple power supplies with a single action. Some switched PDUs also provide input or outlet metering.


What to Look for in a PDU

A PDU is not a commodity product. Because it’s a mission-critical component of the data center infrastructure, it’s important to look for high-quality PDUs that support the power density of the server cabinet. You will need to consider how you’ll mount the PDU and whether you could benefit from a metered or switched unit.

Intelligent PDUs should include security features and access controls to prevent tampering. Some also support add-on features such as environmental monitoring sensors that measure temperature, humidity, and airflow and detect smoke, water, or vibrations. 

Enconnex offers a comprehensive line of PDUs to meet a wide range of specifications. Give us a call to discuss your requirements, and we’ll help you select the right PDU for your use case.

Posted by Enconnex Team on March 30, 2021

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