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PLANNING AND DESIGN FOR A DATA CENTRE

ELECTRICAL POWER INFRASTRUCTURE:
DISTRIBUTION, UPS, SAFETY AND SAVINGS
White Paper
02  2011

ANGELO BAGGINI,
Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering, UNIVERSITY OF BERGAMO

Matteo Granziero
Technical communication specialist, SOCOMEC UPS







 
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CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 3
2. ELECTRICAL POWER AVAILABILITY .................................................................................................. 4
2.1. Downtime cost analysis ....................................................................................................................... 4
2.2. Calculating power supply availability ................................................................................................... 5
2.3. Redundancy ........................................................................................................................................ 6
3. CLASSIFICATION OF DATA CENTRES ............................................................................................... 8
4. CHOOSING THE DISTRIBUTION SCHEME OF THE ELECTRICAL POWER SYSTEM ..................... 9
4.1. Fundamental schemes ........................................................................................................................ 9
4.1.1. Single radial scheme ..................................................................................................................... 9
4.1.2. Dual radial scheme ..................................................................................................................... 10
4.1.3. Comparison between fundamental schemes .............................................................................. 10
4.1.4. Variants of the fundamental schemes ......................................................................................... 11
5. SIZING A STATIC UPS SYSTEM ........................................................................................................ 15
5.1. Power ................................................................................................................................................ 15
5.2. Autonomy .......................................................................................................................................... 16
6. PROTECTION AGAINST INDIRECT CONTACT ................................................................................. 16
6.1. Power supply from the mains ............................................................................................................ 16
6.2. Standalone operation ........................................................................................................................ 17
7. EMERGENCY LIGHTING POWER SUPPLY ....................................................................................... 18
7.1. Back-up lighting ................................................................................................................................. 18
7.2. Safety lighting .................................................................................................................................... 19
8. SAFETY AND EMC DISTURBANCES ................................................................................................. 19
8.1. Connection to the earthing system: functional aspects ..................................................................... 19
8.2. Connection to the earthing system: safety aspects ........................................................................... 20
8.2.1. High reliability protective conductors .......................................................................................... 20
8.2.2. Monitoring the continuity of the protective conductor .................................................................. 21
8.2.3. Use of transformers .................................................................................................................... 21
8.3. Effects of the Uninterruptible Power Supply ...................................................................................... 21
9. ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RELIABILITY ......................................................................................... 22
10. CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................................. 23







 
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1. INTRODUCTION

The data centre has become a critical component in all types of organisation. It must be suitably planned and
designed so as to allow sufficient guarantees of quality, efficiency and service continuity, regardless of the
dimensions and the sector in which it operates.
Electrical power distribution systems are fundamental infrastructure for most production processes, and IT
infrastructures contribute to determining their performance, for example in terms of safety, reliability and ease of
maintenance. If system safety is a compulsory specification due to legal requirements, then reliability, availability
and ease of maintenance are characteristics that nevertheless impact directly on the end user, but for which each
business must establish its own policies.
Finally, when designing a data centre, it has to be considered that the IT industry, which owes its existence to
electrical power, is heading toward a crisis period arising from huge costs, and will probably be one of the first
sectors forced to adapt to new scenarios of low energy consumption. Indeed the issue of energy consumption in
data centres will probably be one of the key issues in the management of IT infrastructures over the next few years.
It is estimated that data centres, web factories and similar structures will dissipate almost 5% of power generated
globally into the environment.

Data centre planning has become a specialist subject in the design industry. The equipment housed in a data
centre has ad hoc specifications, which are not only electrical but which also regard thermal and dimensional
parameters.
A typical data centre basically consists of the following components:
 Network server
 Calculation and network infrastructure (copper/fibre cabling, equipment)
 Network operations centre (NOC), including communication and monitoring
 Electricity distribution and generation systems (UPS, generators)
 Electrical power panels with overcurrent and overvoltage protection
 Lighting systems
 Earthing systems
 Environmental control, ventilation and air conditioning systems
 Fire extinguishing systems
 Access control
 Equipment cabinets and enclosures
 Ducting, floating floors, suspended ceilings
 TLC circuits and equipment (public operator)

Obviously only some of these components are relevant to the design of the electrical power infrastructure.
In addition to considering typical personal safety aspects, the careful design of a data centre power distribution
system is particularly important in relation to the high costs typically associated with downtime caused by power
dips and interruptions.
In addition to the constraint of low power consumption mentioned above, which is dealt with in a specific white
paper in this series and which will not therefore be discussed further in this document, probably the main aspects
that must be take into consideration in the electrical design of a data centre are power availability and maintaining
power quality. In this context the choice of distribution scheme and static UPS systems plays a central role.






 
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The following paragraphs deal with the basic concepts of availability, and discuss the main choices that the design
engineer and customer are faced with when planning and designing the electrical distribution architecture of a data
centre.

2. ELECTRICAL POWER AVAILABILITY

The main reliability parameter involved in the design of a data centre power distribution system is the availability
of the power supply for a given user (for example a rack).
In order to be able to make the right design and investment choices when planning the electrical power
distribution system of a data centre, it is necessary to consider the cost of interruptions in the service provided,
taking into account that in the case in question even power dips result in long service interruptions.
2.1. Downtime cost analysis
Table 1 shows system downtimes expressed in terms of 1-6 nines.
The comparison that must be made is between the cost of system downtime and the marginal cost of the
corresponding solution.
Table 1 - Data centre downtime as a function of power supply system availability
Availability Downtime
90% (1-nine) 36.5 days/year
99% (2-nines) 3.65 days/year
99.9% (3-nines) 8.76 h/year
99.99% (4-nines) 52 min/year
99.999% (5-nines) 5 min/year
99.9999% (6-nines) 31 s/year

Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, although the following general considerations can be made.

Consider as a starting point the data centre of a single-product business, in terms of lost contribution margin
expressed as a fraction of the total contribution margin. Based on these assumptions we can define:
Loss = α TotCM = α (NOM + FC)
where:
α is the fraction of the total contribution margin, equal to the lost contribution margin. This value can be calculated
as annual system downtime caused by the unavailability of the power supply and annual production time;
TotCM is the total contribution margin
NOM is the net operating margin
FC is the fixed costs






 
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The decision to estimate fraction α in terms of time rather than production can be justified by the fact that, in the
case in hand, the majority of the fixed costs considered are mainly a function of time.
As regards the empirical problem of estimating fixed costs and variables of the production process, the following
alternatives exist:
internal accounting
extrapolation of cost data from financial statements
sector analyses conducted by independent bodies

2.2. Calculating power supply availability
The availability of a system, and therefore the availability of the power supply for a given user, is calculated on
the basis of statistical data on the failure rates of individual components in the system, as are other typical
analysis parameters such as for example reliability, MTTF, MTBF, etc.
Availability defines the capability to supply power continuously to a given node in the distribution network and is
defined by the following expression:

A = (1 - MTTR/MTBF) •100 %
where:
- MTTR is the Mean Time To Repair and is the reference parameter for evaluating repair time and therefore
downtime in the event of a failure
- MTBF is the Mean Time Between Failures and in the case of electrical components, given the orders of
magnitude of the parameters involved, it is commonly confused with Mean Time To Failure (MTTF)

MTTF is in turn the reciprocal of the failure rate (ë):
1
( )
MTTF
λ t


The failure rate (λ) of a complex system can in turn be calculated from the failure rates of the individual
components, bearing in mind the following two rules:
the failure rate of elements in series is the sum of the failure rates of the individual elements
the failure rate of elements in parallel is the reciprocal of the sum of the failure rates of the individual elements
However, the unavailability of reliable statistical data on the availability of the various system components
typically constitutes the main obstacle to this analysis, which is why qualitative considerations sometimes take
precedence over quantitative evaluations.
In

Table 2

Table 2 - Reference failure rate values of MV/LV components
Element Failure rate [h
-1
] MTTF [h] MTTR [h]
MV/LV line (m)
1
0.1000 • 10
-6
10 000 000 8-30
Switch disconnector or
1.0000 • 10
-6
1 000 000 4-72






 
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protection device
1

Dry transformer
2
1.3793 • 10
-6
725 000 40-2000
Oil immersed
transformer
2

0.9090 • 10
-6
1 100 000 40-2000
Electrical drive
3
4.0000 • 10
-6
250 000 10-1500
Static UPS
3
41.6909 • 10
-6
24 000 8-72
Diesel generator
3
1.0000 • 10
-6
1 000 000 12-1200

2.3. Redundancy
In order to increase the availability of the power supply it is possible to use redundant components, e.g.
components that are able to supply the requested function independently or autonomously. This is an essential
requirement when the service that the system, or part of it should provide does not allow for downtime or
interruptions, as is typically the case with data centres.
The concept of redundancy is linked to a statistical concept, namely the probability of unavailability, and implies
the existence, in a system, of one or more components that are capable of performing the same function
4
.
All engineering choices should aim to achieve the ideal balance between technical and financial considerations;
this implies that redundancy, in principle, must not be applied indiscriminately, on the contrary it must be carefully
evaluated.
It is not necessary to provide redundancy of failsafe components, e.g. components with markedly superior
availability compared with other components in the same system.
It is important to underline that the failsafe attribute should not be understood in an absolute sense, but rather in a
relative sense to denote a system component with significantly better reliability than other components.
Only non-failsafe components must, if necessary, be made redundant or even made failsafe themselves. The
failsafe attribute is linked, in the broadest sense of the term, to the conditions of use and therefore has a relative
value of comparison.
In this type of analysis, evaluation of the end users is no less important; it makes no sense to install a failsafe
power supply panel when loads are intrinsically susceptible to frequent disruptions. Generally speaking, in a well-
coordinated and balanced design the concept of redundancy must also extend downstream of the electrical
system.
In the concept of redundancy it is essential that the redundant components are independent of each other; the
level of independence cannot be defined in general, but must refer to a given event.

1
William H. Middendorf, “What every engineer should know about Reliability and Risk Analysis”, M.Modarres – Center of Reliability
Engineering – University of Maryland
2
A. Baggini, L. Bianco, A. Bossi: “Macchine statiche e rotanti: innovazioni significative per aumentarne la qualità”, "La qualità
dell'energia elettrica. Servizio utile, indispensabile, insostituibile". Department of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pavia AEI,
CNR, CIRED, 03-06, J ul-95
3
R. Calloni, “Affidabilità dei gruppi di continuità statici”
4
It is important to underline that the alternative functions can be made operational with a normal manual or automatic switchgear control
device, but can also be implemented by providing spare or backup components that can be, for example, used as a replacement for
corresponding faulty elements. From an operational point of view, it is customary to distinguish between:
– active redundancy, when redundant elements should function simultaneously
– standby redundancy, when only one part of the redundant elements is used while the remaining part remains unused until needed.






 
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The independence analysis must not be limited solely to power circuits but must also be extended to the
protection and control systems.
The independence of components that constitute a redundant system can never be absolute and total, unless the
components are completely separate and autonomous, including the related control systems. In all other cases,
common points exist, both for power circuits and for protection and control systems. In other words, an electrical
fault, maintenance operation or circuit modification must not compromise the normal operation of another circuit.
As already highlighted, independence can be guaranteed by physical separation from other circuits (partitions
made from fire-resistant materials), enclosures, circuits with different conduits and the absence of protection
devices common to other circuits, at least up to the first panel and suitable selective protection devices upstream.
Physical separation can be interpreted in different ways, in particular it may be considered as referring to
independent circuits consisting of cables:
laid in separate pipes or ducts;
laid in the same duct, but separated by partitions;
separate multipolar or unipolar cables with sheath, even if laid in the same pipe or duct.
With regard to the effects of a fire, the use of fire-resistant cables for construction, even if laid in the same
raceway, in itself guarantees a level of independence usually deemed sufficient for safety circuits, guaranteeing
operation even when other circuits laid in the same raceway catch fire.
In some cases however, for example with mechanical actions in a backup system serving an important data
centre, the situation described may not ensure sufficient independence and geographically separate conduits
may be required.






 
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3. CLASSIFICATION OF DATA CENTRES 

The article Tier Classifications Define Site Infrastructure Performance by the Uptime Institute introduces a 'tier'
method of classification for data centres. The classification envisages four tiers as follows:
a) Tier I Data Centre: basic data centre
A data centre classified as Tier I has its own distribution and cooling system, it may have a raised floor and must
be connected to a UPS system and/or a diesel engine for safety and backup power. Annual service downtime for
carrying out repair work and preventive maintenance is acceptable. Urgent situations may require more frequent
system shutdowns and any errors or faults in subsystems would cause disruption to the data centre.

b) Tier II Data Centre: redundant components
Systems present in a Tier II data centre have redundant components and are slightly less susceptible to planned
or unplanned disruptions. They may have a raised floor but their UPS, diesel generator and power supply
scheme must be N+1. Maintenance of critical power supply conduits or for other parts of the infrastructure require
the system to be shut down.

c) Tier III Data Centre: simultaneous maintenance and operation
In data centres classified as Tier III, any planned activity is permitted in the infrastructure without disrupting the
hardware operation in any way. Planned activities include preventive and scheduled maintenance, repair,
replacement, addition or removal of system components, system or component testing, etc. For large
infrastructures the cooling system must have two separate, independent circuits, each of which can meet the
capacity and distribution requirements of the entire system. Unplanned activities such as errors in operation or
failures of system components, especially during maintenance work or after a first fault, may cause further data
centre malfunctions or breakdown. Many Tier III data centres are designed to be easily converted to Tier IV sites,
obviously only when the client's business case justifies the cost of the additional design.

d) Tier IV Data Centre: fault-tolerant
Tier IV data centres permit planned activity to be performed without disruption of any kind. Fault-tolerant
functionality also provides the ability to sustain the system with no load impact even in the presence of an
unplanned failure or event. This requires parallel power distribution paths (in System + System configuration) with
two UPS in which each system has N+1 redundancy. Infrastructures with Tier IV data centres are the most
compatible with redundancy concepts for achieving reliability, availability and easy maintenance.






 
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4. CHOOSING THE DISTRIBUTION SCHEME OF THE ELECTRICAL
POWER SYSTEM  
Choosing the distribution scheme is one of the fundamental elements in electrical system design, regardless of
system complexity, on which however solution analysis and development will depend. In order to make this
choice it is necessary to know and fully define load requirements and power source specifications. It is not
possible to define specific criteria for establishing the ideal structure of an electrical power distribution network,
since they are very widely based on power ratings involved and local conditions, for example.
Nevertheless it is possible to draw up a number of general guidelines for selecting the most suitable system
layout.
As a general rule, the conditions that influence the definition of the electrical power distribution scheme for a
given data centre can be divided into two categories: those dependent on the characteristics of the system itself
(overall power requirement, continuity needs, maintenance needs, etc.), which can be defined as internal
conditions, and those dependent on the characteristics of the power supply linked to the utility company (short-
circuit power, voltage level, reliability, etc.), which can be defined as external conditions.
4.1. Fundamental schemes
The possible configurations of an electrical power distribution system serving a data centre can be traced back to
two fundamental schemes:
single radial;
dual radial;
in addition to the mesh scheme, typically adopted by utility companies, and the loop scheme.
4.1.1. Single radial scheme
In a single radial scheme the power supply is branched from a system of primary feeders, from which power is
then distributed radially to the individual users or to secondary feeder systems.
Figure 1 shows an example of a single radial scheme.

Figure 1 - Example of a single radial scheme





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4.1.2. Dual radial scheme
The dual radial scheme essentially consists of the combination of two single radial systems, which extend from
upstream to downstream in association with each other.
The duplication of system components can be extended as far as the individual user or, more frequently, as far
as one or more distribution nodes. Redundancy must be provided not only with regard to power components but
also with regard to the command and control system, if present.
Figure 2 shows an example of a dual radial scheme.

Figure 2 - Example of a dual radial scheme
4.1.3. Comparison between fundamental schemes
Figure 3 highlights, in summary form, the main reliability parameter values of the basic schemes with reference to
the power supply of the second load from the left. The results calculated on the basis of statistical data are given
in Table 3.

Figure 3 - Example of distribution
Table 3 - Quantitative comparative summary of the availability of two fundamental power distribution schemes





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Component ë [h-1/year] MTTR [h/year] MTBF [h/year] Availability [%]
MV public network 1.142 • 10
-4
0.2 8.760 • 10
+3
99.997717
MV-LV transf. 9.094 • 10
-7
52 1.100 • 10
+3
99.995271
Circuit 1.575 • 10
-6
8 6.348 • 10
+3
99.998740
Single radial 1.166 • 10
-4
- 8.573 • 10
+3
99.990000
Dual radial 1.588 • 10
-6
- 6.296 • 10
+3
99.999000

In summary it can be stated that:
- in both cases the general performance of the power supply system is limited mainly by the public distribution
network which, as is common practice, renders the use of a backup power source indispensable;
- in the example case of a double radial scheme, in practice the second MV network (independent of the first for
the purpose of this hypothesis) constitutes a backup source that only marginally improves availability (99.999%
compared with 99.99%) although not sufficiently for most centres, which require much higher availability;
- the dual radial scheme nevertheless guarantees vastly superior availability compared with the single radial
scheme;
- in general it can be stated that redundant schemes guarantee higher availability but also higher costs, in terms
of both original equipment and maintenance.
4.1.4. Variants of the fundamental schemes
Faced with the complex balance between the costs and advantages of the fundamental schemes, it is common
practice to adopt numerous variants to the basic schemes, some of which are well designed while others are just
exercises of imagination.
The following figures illustrate and compare some of the most common variants of fundamental schemes in terms
of:
availability;
repairability;
expandability;
fault tolerance;
cost.








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Figure 4- Dual Bus 2(N+1) Architecture

 
Figure 5 - Double Bypass Architecture (note the bypasses must be independent).







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Figure 6 - 2N Architecture with STS
 
Figure 7 - 3N Architecture with STS







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Figure 8 - 2N+1 Architecture


Figure 9 - 2N+1 Architecture





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5. SIZING A STATIC UPS SYSTEM

Choosing the power of a static UPS system serving a data centre is a decision that involves various elements
and which cannot be made before, or independently from, the choice of distribution scheme.
The main elements to consider can be summarised as follows:
two from the following parameters of the loads to be supplied: Active Power (PRL), Apparent Power (SRL) or
Power Factor (P.F.);
type of load power supply (voltage, frequency, number of phases);
load coincidence factor;
required back-up time;
type of mains power supply (voltage, frequency, number of phases).
5.1. Power
The fundamental characteristic of IT equipment loads, and more generally of all loads equipped with switching
power supplies, is the current waveform and phase. Since these power supplies only absorb current close to
maximum voltage, the typical waveform, far from being sinusoidal (Figure 10), has a rather reduced base line and
a vertex in correspondence with the voltage peak. Given the same effective value, this waveform has the
peculiarity of having a much higher crest factor than that of a sinusoidal wave. The static UPS must be able to
supply this peak current value, which is normally indicated in the product's technical specifications as the 'crest
factor'.
In accordance with standard EN 62040-3, the system must not be derated for standardised non-linear loads with
a crest factor lower than three (3:1)
5
.
With regard to the current phase it should be noted that the power factor of the loads under consideration is
leading, and therefore specific precautions must be taken when sizing the UPS. Current computer loads have
input power factors up to 0.9 leading. Note however that there are UPS systems on the market that are able to
supply power without derating even this type of load.

Figure 10 - Typical current waveforms of computer loads compared with a sinusoidal wave (dotted line).
If the static system is also required to deliver a large inrush current, as in the case of lighting fixtures with
fluorescent bulbs, this must duly be taken into account.
The parameters are:

5
Sometimes the nominal power of a static UPS system is confused with terms such as 'switching power', 'computer power'
and 'actual power'. These expressions were probably coined in an attempt to define a parameter capable of modelling system
power even in conditions where the current and voltage waveforms are distorted, nevertheless it should be borne in mind that
these parameters do not have an official regulatory definition and therefore cannot have any correlation with the apparent
power and nominal active power of the static system.
Consequently, they cannot be used to size a static UPS system.





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Î
UPS
(maximum current value from the UPS);
t
UPS
(time for which ÎUPS is sustainable);
Î
load
(overload current required by the load);
t
load
(theoretical overload time required by the load).
the apparent power required for sizing the UPS will be:

UPS
load
RL UPS
I
ˆ
I
ˆ
S S   with t
load
≤t
UPS


Typical values of Î
UPS
and t
UPS
can range from typical current values of 150% of nominal current for one minute up
to 200% per 100ms without mains power or for UPS systems not equipped with bypass.
The typical cold inrush current of an appliance of the type under consideration is equal to 6 - 8 times the nominal
current, and in practice is only limited by the impedance of the UPS and the conductors comprising the part of the
distribution network affected by the event.

5.2. Autonomy
Autonomy is essentially linked to the time that the data centre is able to guarantee continued operation and if
necessary perform a controlled shutdown (typically 30-60 min).
If service must be guaranteed for a long time (roughly 60-90 min), as is often the case, a rotary generator should
be provided to supply power to the static system, implementing procedures to ensure fuel replenishment if
necessary.


6. PROTECTION AGAINST INDIRECT CONTACT
Protection against indirect contact in the presence of static UPS systems, as applied typically to data centres, is
relatively complex since the downstream circuits can be powered either by battery in standalone operation,
independently from the network, or from the network through the inverter or directly.
At the design stage it is important to give due thought to this choice so as not to risk compromising personal
safety on the one hand, and nullifying the availability of the power supply on the other.

6.1. Power supply from the mains
The options typically available are the adoption of a single residual-current device (RCD) upstream of the static
system or a RCD for each user or group of users downstream.
Even if tripping of the RCD occurs whether the power is fed from the mains or from the inverter, due to different
dynamics.
Consider the TT system as an example. In the first case (Figure 11), since the neutral conductor of the mains
power supply is not interrupted by the static system, an earth fault would cause the upstream RCD to trip, in the
absence of the downstream device or if not an S-type device.
An earth fault in the group upstream of the transformer, if present, also causes the RCD to trip, Figure 12.





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Figure 11 - Power supply direct from mains: a fault downstream of the static system results in the tripping of residual-current
device Q1 or Q2, if present and Q1 S-type device.


Figure 12 - Fault upstream of the transformer: residual-current device Q1 trips.

In other words the adoption of a single RCD upstream of the static system protects against indirect contact in all
of the considered cases and also guarantees, in the event that a device trips, continuous power to all loads
including the load affected by the fault, but for a time restricted by the autonomy of the system.
The design choice to include a RCD for each load or group of loads powered by the static system in the event of
tripping removes the faulty load from the service, but guarantees a continuous supply of power to all the other
loads for an indefinite time.
The behaviour of the protection devices in the case of power supply from a TN system can easily be inferred from
the cases examined for the TT system.

6.2. Standalone operation
In standalone operation the electrical system downstream of the transformer is isolated from earth:





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- on the first earth fault the condition R
T
≤ 50/I
d
is of course satisfied since current I
d
is leading and, given the
limited extension of the circuit, it is in the order of several mA
6
;
- a second earth fault must be eliminated, in principle, within the times stipulated in standard IEC 60364 (in Italy
CEI 64-8), but typically overcurrent protection devices do not trip since the short-circuit current is in the order of
1.25 - 2 I
R
, but the protection device in the static system trips within a few seconds or tenths of a second
7
, leading
to the disconnection of the inverter.

The need to indicate the first earth fault in IT systems could also be considered as extended to circuits powered
by a static UPS system in standalone operation, nevertheless further considerations must be made:
typically the circuits powered by the static UPS are not very extensive:
the length of time that the UPS can function in standalone operation is generally limited to between 10 and 30
minutes,
therefore the probability of a fault occurring in these conditions is small and the indication of the first earth fault
can consequently be omitted.
However it can be considered that in the case of UPS with bypass line, the indication of the first earth fault can
effectively be implemented by equipping the RCD device with a tripped relay contact.


7. EMERGENCY LIGHTING POWER SUPPLY
Lighting is defined as emergency lighting when it is intended for operation when standard lighting fails.
Emergency lighting must be powered by an independent energy source (typically a central power supply system)
and is classified by the UNI EN 1838 standard into:
1. Back-up lighting
2. Safety lighting
While safety lighting is governed by special regulatory, technical and legislative requirements, both in terms of
construction and compliance, for backup lighting it is necessary to refer to the general installation rule, and the
decision to adopt it or not is typically a financial one.
In both cases the problem can be viewed in terms of guaranteeing given reliability and availability.
7.1. Back-up lighting
In the case of back-up lighting (or more generally back-up services), identifying the level of reliability to adopt and
the subsequent implementation of lighting in terms of plant engineering solutions is inevitably left entirely to the
discretion of the system designer and customer. If a static UPS system is used to power back-up lighting, it is
necessary to determine the autonomy needed to continue doing the same activity and the same tasks that were
being performed while the standard lighting was functioning, without significant changes. The level of illumination
provided by backup lighting must generally be at least equal to that provided by standard lighting, as if this were
not the case it would be impossible to continue the previous activity. One typical case where it is possible to have
back-up lighting which is dimmer than standard lighting, is when back-up lighting is only used to finish off work in
progress, and not to continue indefinitely (for example non-automated operations before data centre equipment is

6
Service continuity not requiring interruption of the service on the first earth fault is preferable.
7
However in such a short space of time anyone in contact with both faulty appliances is not in danger. In fact simultaneous
contact with the two faulty appliances exposes the body to a negligible voltage, due to the modest short-circuit current value,
which is equal to:
I R V  
where:
– R is the resistance of the protective conductors
– I is the short-circuit current





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shut down). It is also necessary to consider the peculiarities of the bulbs normally used in lighting fixtures, in
order to correctly size a UPS used as a back-up power source. For example rephased linear fluorescent bulbs,
used widely for reasons of efficiency in lighting systems, are characterised by high inrush current.

The typical cold inrush current of a lighting fixture of the type in question is equal to 6 – 8 times the nominal
current, and in practice is only limited by the UPS and the conductors comprising the part of the distribution
network affected by the event.

7.2. Safety lighting
The purpose of safety lighting is to provide an adequate level of safety to people who find themselves without
standard lighting, and to therefore prevent accidents or dangerous situations from occurring. It is not lighting that
can be used to carry out ordinary tasks, but functions only to ensure the safe mobility of people.
For the power supply of safety lighting it is necessary to use a central power supply system (CPSS), e.g. a UPS
that also meets the additional requirements of standard EN 50171, and the related circuits must be independent
from any other circuits (standard IEC 60364-5 chapter 56).
In a data centre, safety lighting can be provided in the form of self-powered equipment, however sometimes it is
more convenient to use the backup CPPS of the CED to supply power to safety lighting as well.
In this case autonomy time must be adapted and it is also essential that:
a central power supply system is used rather than a straightforward UPS;
back-up usage does not compromise safety;
selectivity is guaranteed;
mutual interference of loads is verified in terms of electrical power availability.


8. SAFETY AND EMC DISTURBANCES
In data centres, new requirements and further constraints often arise during implementation of the earthing
system, already a key element of electrical installations in relation to safety requirements.
Indeed electronic appliances require not only an earth connection
8
for safety reasons (protective earthing), but
also an earth connection for functional reasons (operational earthing).
These distinct requirements pose a problem of electromagnetic compatibility. Indeed the simultaneous need for
an earth connection for safety and functional reasons, subjects electronic appliances to disturbances they would
otherwise not be subjected to on the one hand and poses safety problems due to permanent leakage currents
they produce on the other.
In these cases the earthing system must be implemented in such a way as to reconcile both safety requirements
and functional requirements, in other words without jeopardising the level of safety of the electrical system and at
the same time without compromising appliance functionality.

8.1. Connection to the earthing system: functional aspects
The solution to EMC problems therefore requires a systematic approach, that cannot be limited solely to the
implementation of a correct functional earth connection. Nevertheless, accurate implementation of the earthing
system may contribute decisively to the reduction of disturbances.

8
Please refer to the definition of earth given in Art. 24.1 of Standard CEI 64-8, Part 2: The conductive mass of the earth,
whose electric potential at any point is conventionally taken as equal to zero.





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The CEI 64-8 standard stipulates that for a combined protective and functional earth system, provisions regarding
protection measures must take precedence.
The functional earth must preferably be implemented using different conductors to those used for protection.
These insulated conductors will then connect, directly or through intermediate collectors, to the main earth
collector, to which the protective conductors will also be connected
9
.
Conductors used exclusively for connection to the functional earth are not subject to provisions relating to
protective conductors. Their characteristics must therefore be chosen on the basis of electromagnetic
compatibility requirements of the installation.
Within the same circuit the functional earth connection must be implemented in such a way that multiple earth
connections (intentional or effective) are avoided.

8.2. Connection to the earthing system: safety aspects
The presence of filters in electronic appliances to suppress radiofrequency interference may result in high
10
earth
leakage currents. In these cases a continuity fault in a protective conductor represents a dangerous condition.
Indeed until the body of the appliance is connected to earth, dangerous conditions do not exist; if the protective
conductor is interrupted and someone touches the body of the appliance, both would be exposed to the leakage
current with serious risk.
In reality this occurs for any appliance that leaks a current to earth. The increased level of danger in this case is
linked to the value of the current; while the leakage current of normal user appliances is limited, that of certain
electronic appliances may be between 3.5 and 10 mA and, in certain cases, even higher
11
.
Hence the need to stipulate additional provisions for the earth connection of this type of appliance. To this effect
the CEI 64-8 standard emphasises the continuity of the protective conductor as well as its physical characteristics
(cross-section, connections etc.) with the aim of ensuring maximum reliability of the conductor, proposing three
alternative solutions:
high reliability connection;
monitoring of the protective conductor;
use of transformers (excluding autotransformers).
The CEI 64-8 standard also stipulates additional provisions for protection against indirect contact for TT and IT
systems.
8.2.1. High reliability protective conductors
12

The stated purpose of this provision is to implement reliable protective earth connections. This requirement is
deemed to be satisfied by the use of protective conductors with a cross-section of not less than 10 mm
2
if made
from a single cable or two conductors in parallel each having a cross-section of not less than 4 mm
2
and
independent terminals.
If the protective conductor is made using a core of a multipolar cable then the sum of the cross-sections of all the
conductors that constitute the multipolar cable must not be less than 10 mm
2
, including the protective conductor
which must furthermore have a cross-section of not less than 2.5 mm
2
.

9
Standard CEI 64-8, Part 5, Art. 546.1.
10
According to standard CEI 64-8, high leakage currents are currents that exceed the limit specified and measured in
accordance with Art. 5.2 of European Standard EN 60950 (CEI 74-2), or in Annex G thereof (3.5 mA).
11
The current threshold conventionally established for the tetanisation threshold is equal to 10 mA (for times greater than 2
s).
12
Standard CEI 64-8, Part 7, Art. 707.471.3.3.1.





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8.2.2. Monitoring the continuity of the protective conductor
In order to check the continuity of the protective conductor
13
, section 707 of standard CEI 64-8 stipulates the
requirement to provide a device, or multiple devices, that interrupt the power supply to the appliance in the event
of discontinuity in the protective conductor, in accordance with provisions relating to protection against indirect
contact.
8.2.3. Use of transformers
Another measure to limit earth leakage currents consists of using transformers
14
.
If the appliance is powered through a transformer and the secondary circuit is connected as a TN system, then
the leakage currents flow through the transformer secondary without involving the protective conductor.


Figure 13 - Example of connection of an appliance with high leakage current to the user system through a transformer

The transformer does not need to have special characteristics (e.g. insulation transformer) even if the use of
autotransformers is not allowed.

8.3. Effects of the Uninterruptible Power Supply
Special attention must be paid to the static UPS system, its electromagnetic compatibility requirements and
currents to earth.
With regard to EMC requirements, standard EN 62040-2 defines categories for the classification of UPS in terms
of emission and immunity based on their application. The system designer is responsible for the selection and
ideal positioning of the static system.

Table 4 - Summary of EMC classification of UPS according to standard EN 62040-2

First environment Second environment
Complex
environment
Definition Residential, commercial, light Residential, commercial, light Defined by the

13
Standard CEI 64-8, Part 7, Art. 707.471.3.3.2.
14
Standard CEI 64-8, Part 7, Art. 707.471.3.3.3.





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industrial connected directly to
the LV network without
transformer.
industrial connected directly to
the LV network by means of a
transformer.
customer
Neutral
system
TT TN, IT
Defined by the
customer
UPS
category
C1 C2 C3 C4
Definition
of UPS
category
UPS for use without
restrictions in the
FIRST
ENVIRONMENT
UPS for use without
restrictions in the
SECOND
ENVIRONMENT
UPS for use in
commercial or
industrial
installations at a
minimum distance
of 30 m from the
FIRST
ENVIRONMENT
UPS for use in
COMPLEX
ENVIRONMENT and
subject to agreements
between customer
and supplier

With regard to UPS earth leakage current, it should be remembered that in the case of stationary equipment
standard EN 60950-1 stipulates that the protective conductor current must not exceed 5% of input current.


9. ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RELIABILITY
In the case of a data centre, energy efficiency and low power consumption are certainly important, as much for
environmental reasons as for economic ones; nevertheless this must not lead to the reliability of the power supply
being sacrificed. In other words design choices must achieve a balance between these two aspects.
The two situations that can most commonly lead to incorrect design conclusions are:
- operation at reduced load due to high redundancy
- adoption of an off-line system to improve efficiency

The first case refers to the consequences that the adoption of a redundant scheme can have on power
consumption due to the efficiency trend of static UPS systems.
Indeed the efficiency of a static UPS system has a typical trend, such as that represented in Figure 14 e.g. for low
loads, efficiency is drastically reduced.
Taking the example of a dual radial system (redundancy at 100%), each static system is at 50% load. With the
data in Figure 14 the overall efficiency of the UPS would be reduced from 96%, at full load, to 95% or as low as
93%, depending on the technology of the static UPS system.

Figure 14 - Example of the efficiency of two static UPS systems (solid line - System A, dotted line – System B).






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One solution to this problem is the adoption of a Static Transfer System (STS) that allows greater flexibility in
terms of the system architecture.

The second case refers to the consequences that the adoption of a VFD or VI system can have on the reliability
of the power supply for efficiency purposes.
Although VFD or VI systems promise higher efficiency, simplicity and compactness, in the case of the supply of
critical loads such as IT equipment in a data centre, it cannot be overlooked that:
- transfer times are not null, for example the load is subject to voltage drops from the mains or during
power dips and interruptions;
- the operation of many IT appliances can also be affected by very slight disturbances in the supply
voltage;
- national distribution networks, with regard to quality, are not exempt from overvoltage, frequency
variations, flicker and harmonics.
The main solution to this problem is to adopt double conversion VFI UPS systems for the supply of IT appliances.


10. CONCLUSIONS
The design requirements of a data centre must include not only site selection, positioning, space, available
power, air conditioning, load, access points, environmental quality, risk evaluation and the possibility of
expansion, but also the requirements of the electrical power supply system.
The main aspects that must be taken into account in the electrical design of a data centre are the availability and
maintenance of the power supply, aspects in which the selection of the distribution scheme and UPS systems
play a central role.
In order to be able to make the right choices in designing and defining the investment dedicated to the electrical
power distribution system, it is necessary to consider the cost of service downtime.
The availability of statistical reliability data together with recognised methods makes it possible to carry out
accurate quantitative evaluations on which to base the strategic choices that the planning and design of a data
centre involve.






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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES

A. Baggini, M. Granziero: UPS systems – A practical guide to selection, installation and maintenance, Editoriale
Delfino, Milan 2009
IEEE Design of Reliable Industrial and Commercial Power Systems, IEEE Gold book, 493, 2007
A. Baggini, F. Bua: Collegamento alla terra funzionale delle apparecchiature elettroniche, institutional
conferences CEI 2004, Impianti di terra e impianti elettrici nei luoghi a maggior rischio in caso di incendio, Milan 3
March 2004.
A. Baggini, F. Bua: Impianti di emergenza. Scelta delle apparecchiature, U&C, May 2008.
Telecommunications Industry Association: Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers,
Arlington (USA) 2004.
M. Granziero: Approccio Green alla disponibilità dell’energia elettrica, Elecrotechnical news, October 2009.
______________________________________________________________________________________



www.socomec.com 
White Paper – 02/2011
PLANNING AND DESIGN FOR A DATA CENTRE ELECTRICAL POWER INFRASTRUCTURE:
DISTRIBUTION, UPS, SAFETY AND SAVINGS
Authors:
ANGELO BAGGINI, Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Bergamo
MATTEO GRANZIERO, Technical Communication Specialist, SOCOMEC UPS


Media & Marketing Department
SOCOMEC UPS
Via Sila, 1/3
36033 Isola Vicentina (VI) – Italy
Media Marketing coordinator: juri.romito@socomec.com

Head Offices
SOCOMEC UPS
11, route de Strasbourg
B.P. 10050
F-67235 Huttenheim Cedex – France