ELECTRICAL Busways: From the Factory Floor to Data Center Installs

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An IHS report is forecasting busways to grow substantially as a viable option for data center power distribution infrastructure. Data centers and equipment rooms are designed with two key parameters. The IT load rating of the equipment in kW and the physical size of the space. Aligning the power dense and heavy cooling requirements of IT equipment means designing a power distribution system that can support the lighting, cooling, IT equipment and backup power system, while maintaining air flow to keep sensitive electronics cool.

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Busways can be used as an alternative for cable and conduit anyplace where electricity needs to be distributed and can take up to thirty-five percent fewer man hours to install. Manufacturing facilities are especially suited to benefit from the use of busways. The cost of electricians to bend, route and pull conduit and wire through a industrial facility is costly. Data centers benefit from the use of busways beneath raised floors by supplying the increasing computing power needed in the smaller spaces, while using less energy/heat.

“The traditional method of a fixed floor-mounted power distribution unit (PDU) or a wall-mounted distribution panel permanently hardwired to each rack has been besieged by the constant need for additional circuits. And the under-floor labyrinth of hard pipe, Greenfield or flexible whips has impeded the raised-floor airflow. As a result, the trend is to try to move power cabling up and out of the floor and run it overhead, primarily using the same conduit or flexible whip systems. However, even this alternative is challenged by the ever-growing and changing high-density loads.”


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The trend is moving towards using busways and bus tracks specifically designed for data center type applications.

  • Power is accessed along the busway with tap-off boxes that contain a circuit breaker, or plug-in units that have either power outlets or a drop cord with a receptacle; this eliminates the need for panel boards and long runs of conduit and wire.
  • Busways can be mounted overhead or underfloor allowing racks to be easily installed or moved without any interruption to the rest of the system, making the system more flexible and adaptable.
  • The ability to physically offset the tap-off points on the bus to achieve redundant A-B power paths; meaning other systems remain available, even during maintenance or component failure.
  • 200%-rated neutral bar can be specified to be included with the bus, which is essential for computer and fluorescent lighting harmonics.
  • Ample power availability with configurations and ratings ranging from 120 V/20A single phase up to 208 V/100A three-phase.
  • These installations have improved cooling and electrical efficiency over traditional methods.

To learn more about the use of busways as a power distribution system for your high density power data center installation or equipment rooms contact us for more information.

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