Picking the Right Power Cables
When you are optimizing a data center, you will consider a lot of design choices. You’ll compare different cable infrastructures. You’ll look at hardware options and their performance capacities. You’ll even think carefully about what kinds of mounts to use to keep it all together.
What you might not think about soon enough are power cords. Data centers have specific demands, and you need the right power cords for optimal electrical flow that doesn’t create too much waste heat. These six tips will help you think about power cord optimization and what choices you have that can make a difference.
You can set up a color system to easily map all of your power connections. Most power cables are going to come in a standard black color, so the easiest way to do this is with colored tape or anything else that can flag your cables.
Color coordination makes life easier. You can quickly trace the lines to their devices, which is particularly useful if and when you are troubleshooting equipment.
Gauge Your Wires
The gauge and length of a wire will impact its performance. In terms of power cords, the gauge has to match the load capacity. If the cable is too thin, it cannot carry enough current to power the devices. If it is too thick, it leads to excess resistance and heat. It also wastes money, as thicker cables cost more to produce.
Cords that are too long can impact performance as well. Resistance and heat production increase with the length of the power cord. If your cords are too long, that heat can impact the current delivered to the endpoint device. It can also harm performance by helping the entire infrastructure to overheat.
Pick the Right Jacket
Cable jackets provide all of the shielding for the wire structure. Jackets affect temperature tolerance and the flexibility of the cord. If your jacket is too thin, the power cords don’t have enough shielding. They are more susceptible to damage and more likely to contribute to heating problems.
If they are too thick, they can make the cord rigid and unable to follow your infrastructure design. Find the right jacket, and everything is that much easier.
While jacket selection can help with cable management, it won’t always work out nicely. Sometimes, space constraints make it very difficult to run power cables through the nooks and crannies of your setup.
The good news is that angled power connectors are a thing. You can get the angle that allows your cable to connect in a functional way. They are a minor investment and free up a lot of design options that can change how you lay out your data center network.
For the most part, power cords can be made from one of two materials: oxygen-free copper (OFC) or copper-clad aluminum (CCA). OFC is made entirely from copper. CCA is a mix of copper and aluminum.
This key difference is why CCA cables typically cost much less to purchase. It is also why they have lower conductivity than OFC cords. For your data center, you have to choose between cable prices and conductivity.
Most data centers opt for the more expensive all-copper option. OFC cables are better suited for the power demands of a data center. CCA often cannot supply enough power, and it leads to performance issues.
Double-Check All Power Cords
The easiest way to have a catastrophic problem in your data center is to mix up power cables. Double-check the voltage and power draw of every piece of equipment before it is plugged in. Ensure that the power supply is up to the task and that no voltages are mismatched. Also, check the connectors to ensure that they match each other appropriately. Checking power cords is straightforward, but a mistake here can leave items unpowered or even damage them.
The Bottom Line on Choosing Power Cords
It’s amazing how much thought and design can go into just the power cords of a data center. When you’re trying to push the envelope of digital communication, no detail is too small to optimize. The #1 priority for you is to make sure your data center and/or the equipment on your network does not go down. Choosing the right power cord (and power cord supplier) can start you off on the right foot to make sure this does not happen. Planning, network set-up, and even having backup power cords all play into making sure your network runs flawlessly and your employees (or your boss) aren’t blowing up your phone in the middle of the day or night saying something is down.
Additional Learning Center Resources
- How to Calculate Power Consumption for your Server Room
- Navigating Power Cord Attributes and Terminology
- 3 Different Ways to Power Your Cisco Phone While Working Remotely
- Picking the best products for your Data Center
- Network Rack Cable Management Top Tips
- Best Practices for Cable Management in Data Centers
- Rack Solutions for Your Data Center: Benefits of Racks & Cabinets
- How to Choose The Right Rackmount Server
- Visit the CK Learning Center