Data centers are essential to the global growth of ultra-fast internet and data sharing. As data usage grows in personal and business settings, so has the demand for data centers, with private investment in US-based data centers growing 50% year-over-year since 2018. Additionally, improved technology has allowed for more processing power in server racks, driving up energy demands and increasing the importance of how energy solutions are packaged and optimized.
Choosing a data center power packaging partner that can deliver on your initial needs and adapt as you scale or technology advances are essential for the long-term growth and cost-effectiveness of your business model. In this blog, we’ll discuss the most important things to consider when searching for a reliable power packaging partner.
Considerations for Choosing a Data Center Power Packaging Partner
Precisely Identify Requirements
Before you can find the best data center power packaging partner, it’s critical to fully identify your project’s needs. The initial required capacity for powering the server stacks and their networking systems can be calculated on a per-unit basis, which can then be paired with optimized power packaging for available space. The all-important cooling systems, however, must be worked out in line with local year-round temperature ranges. Every premises will also need power for security systems, lighting, and other operator functions.
While initial power demands can be assessed based on current technology and needs, data center builders also need to consider their operation’s scalability and how future technological changes can lead to greater power demands in the same space. Tailor-made power packaging solutions specific to your project’s needs will require expert assessment of current capacity and future scenarios.
In addition to current or future running needs, there is also the necessity for emergency backup power, most likely via an Uninterrupted Power Supply system (UPS). This requires building redundancy and backup generators into the power supply, along with the battery capacity to power the UPS until the main backup systems come online. All of these systems require maximum power packaging efficiency to deliver the most utility while being easily maintained.
Create a Shortlist of Potential Partners
Currently, there is a relatively limited pool of data center power packaging partners. Smaller electrical engineering firms simply don't have the scale and expertise to successfully deliver on such a large project. The first step in creating a shortlist of potential partners is identifying companies with the scale and experience to complete large jobs for major entities such as federal agencies, the military, or Fortune 500 companies.
Relevant companies can be found through online platforms, recommendations from others in the industry, approved federal vendor lists, and press releases about similar projects.
Appraise Shortlist in Terms of Experience and Expertise
There are several ways you can assess each data center power packaging candidate on your shortlist. First, there’s their capacity and whether they have the facilities required to design and build the power packaging solutions you need. Depending on how far along you are in the decision-making process, this could mean visiting their facility to see how their operations work and meeting the personnel who’ll be involved with your project.
Second, assess the vendor’s expertise and evaluate how well the personnel of both the design and construction team will be able to understand and deliver on your needs. Third, there’s the firm’s experience in providing power packaging solutions for other data centers or similar scale projects. Ask for references or case studies so you can observe the finished project or ask the previous client about their experience.
Finally, it’s important to understand the level of ongoing service and support that’s possible with your power packaging partner. With ongoing needs for oversight and maintenance, as well as possible scaling operations, maintaining a strong relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Regulatory Compliance and Certifications
Any potential data center power packaging partner should be able to certify all the equipment it delivers so you can ensure regulatory compliance for your project. In North America, this includes the following certifications:
UL 891 - Dead Front Switchboards
UL 508A - Industrial Control Panels
UL 1558 - Metal Enclosed Low Voltage Power Circuit Breaker Switchgear
UL Listed - Circuit Breaker and Metal-Clad Switchgear over 600 Volts
The vendor should also be registered for relevant applications in the NAICS, such as:
238210 - Electrical Contractors and Other Wiring Installation Contractors
335311 - Power, Distribution, and Specialty Transformer Manufacturing
335313 - Switchgear and Switchboard Apparatus Manufacturing
335314 - Relay and Industrial Control Manufacturing
335999 - All Other Miscellaneous Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing
532490 - Other Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing
Certifications and proof of compliance in the field of power and power packaging solutions identifies that they apply rigorous safety and quality standards at their facility. Having your project in compliance with product and safety regulations reduces your institutional risk and protects against potential litigation.
Cost and Compactness Considerations
Naturally, a deciding factor when choosing any data center power packaging partner will be how much their solutions cost. However, costs must always be weighed against utility, especially when it comes to data center power packaging and space considerations. In data centers, earnings are calculated per square foot and giving too much space to power equipment (gensets, switchboards, UPS) will eat into your revenue.
Enercon: A Partner You Can Trust
The growth in data centers has accelerated the demand for effective power solutions to run them along with power packaging solutions that allow firms to maximize available floor space for server stacks. Choosing the right data center power packaging partner can make a major difference in both the reliability of the data center operation and its profit margins.
To make that decision it’s vital to have a precise understanding of your needs, not just for running the data center and cooling the server stacks but also your capacity to scale and the redundancy and emergency backup power needed. Consider a qualified shortlist of potential partners and evaluate their capacity, expertise, experience, certifications, and what an ongoing service partnership would look like.
Enercon has designed and built power packaging solutions for a range of industries including the military, educational institutions, and private clients. To find out more about what makes us a great data center power packaging partner, get in contact with our team.