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Article Date: 5th February 2018

Carlo Gavazzi - Power Quality is Mission Critical

Power Quality - Data Centres - Electrical Distribution - Power Usage

Carlo Gavazzi - Data Centre

Continuity of power is essential in mission-critical applications such as data centres and the ability for end users to quickly and cost-effectively monitor power is crucial. Alan Hickman, managing director of metering, controls and automation specialist Carlo Gavazzi UK, outlines the latest trends in electrical distribution in data centres and mission-critical applications and highlights an innovative solution to power quality monitoring.

Power outages or power quality issues in mission-critical environments such as data centres, hospitals and industrial process plants can have devastating consequences and lead to financial losses, damage to reputation and reduced business.

Mission-critical applications have complex electrical distribution systems and it is essential that end-users monitor key parameters affecting power quality such as leakage currents, neutral-ground voltage, voltage stability, wave shape and harmonics. Equally, effective monitoring of power usage is essential to minimise energy consumption and running costs and meet environmental legislation and corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets.

Quality time
Why are power quality issues such as harmonics important? Let’s take data centres as an example. There are two key issues in any data centre: equipment reliability and running costs and problems with harmonics will have a detrimental impact on both. Harmonics can be caused by both current distortion and voltage distortion. Typically, current distortion will be caused by non-linear loads, while voltage distortion is most likely to be caused when an electrical device pulls current distortion through an impedance.

Harmonics can lead to a reduction in energy efficiency because harmonic currents increase losses on conductors and transformers, creating heat and increasing power and cooling costs. The heat generated by harmonics can increase equipment downtime and cause early equipment failure or breakdowns. Overall lifespan of electrical equipment can be shortened, leading to increased capital expenditure as companies are forced to purchase replacement equipment sooner than planned for. Capital costs can also be increased because data centre managers may opt to oversize equipment to compensate for the losses caused by heating and distortion.

Monitoring is essential
So the ability for end users to quickly and cost-effectively monitor power quality is crucial. Today, large data centres are the norm with multiple servers and data racks. Typically, groups of 48 servers are installed in rack panels in big data centres. Each server supply is protected by a dedicated breaker and it is necessary to monitor each branch for effective control of electrical variables and energy cost allocation. The mains supply to the distribution panel (located close to the server racks) must also be monitored and controlled.

A device is needed that is able to monitor this amount of channels while keeping space and installation complexity under control. A traditional metering system requires too much space and a short installation time is also crucial as a single data centre can include 100 to 200 distribution panels.

Carlo Gavazzi has conducted extensive research among end users and suppliers to data centres and mission-critical applications. It became clear that an innovative solution to the market was required, one that offers:

  • installation time savings
  • space savings over traditional metering solutions
  • the ability to combine branch circuit and mains supply monitoring
  • scalable, modular monitoring
  • high speed data links between the CT block and the main meter thus reducing EMC issues

Carlo Gavazzi WM50 branch circuit monitoring systemThe result is Carlo Gavazzi’s WM50 branch circuit monitoring system. The WM50 is a complete solution for data centres and critical load applications. While the base unit monitors the mains supply, its two branch buses link up to eight 12-channel split-core current transformer (CT) blocks. The system can therefore be scaled according to specific needs up to 96 branch circuits in any combination of three-phase and single-phase loads or two-phase and single phase loads. This approach reduces installation time by up to 75% when compared to existing solutions and affords a similar saving during commissioning.

Fast and intuitive
The system configuration is extremely fast and intuitive: by following the graphical suggestions of the proprietary software or app, any different topological panel configuration can be easily made. All data can be transmitted to the BMS or data centre monitoring system via either Modbus RTU or Modbus TCP/IP protocols.

The WM50 boasts major benefits for end users and installers:

  • low measurement cost per channel - users can monitor up to 96 current channels with a single analyser thanks to the 12-channel current sensors.
  • reduced installation time and errors – the system is equipped with detachable terminals for all connections. It connects to 12-channel current sensors with proprietary cables. The clips supplied with the sensors ensure that cables are always in order during installation.
  • scalability - WM50 can be integrated with optional modules to expand its control and communication capacity.
  • disturbance immunity - digital communications between current sensors and WM50 ensure excellent disturbance immunity.
  • granular analysis - it provides total and single load measurements (up to 96 current channels).
  • clarity - the wide backlit LCD display clearly shows the measurements and the configuration parameter values.
  • quick configuration - the proprietary UCS configuration software (desktop or mobile version) is free and permits quick system configuration and diagnostics. An optical port is also available for quick analyser configuration.

The data centre market is booming and with it the need for a quick and cost-effective means of monitoring power quality in such mission-critical applications. Carlo Gazazzi has built on its experience in these markets to offer an extremely flexible, scalable, compact, easy and intuitive solution. Can you afford to miss out?

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