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Accredited Tier Designer Technical Paper Series:

Engine-Generator Ratings

This Technical Paper supplements Data Center Site Infrastructure Tier Standard: Topology.
This technical paper provides additional detail regarding the Tier consequences
of engine-generators and their ratings. This technical paper was prompted by the
interactions at Accredited Tier Designer sessions and industry comments and queries.

Tier Requirements
The core premise, as set forth in the Tier Standard: Topology, is that the only reliable source of power for a
data center is the engine-generator plant. Although the purchase of power from the local utility is an economic
alternative, there are no considerations of this utility power that affect the owners target Tier objective.
Instead, for Tier III (Concurrently Maintainable) and Tier IV (Fault Tolerant) functionality objectives, the Tier
Standard: Topology states:

Engine generators for Tier III and IV sites shall not have a limitation on consecutive hours of operation
when loaded to N demand. Engine generators that have a limit on consecutive hours of operation at N
demand are appropriate for Tier I or II.

There are two key aspects of this requirement: 1) disruptions to the utility power are not considered a
failure, but an anticipated operational condition for which the site must be prepared, and 2) a Tier III or IV
engine-generator system, along with its power paths and other supporting elements, shall meet the
Concurrently Maintainable and/or Fault Tolerant performance confirmation tests while they are carrying the
site on engine-generator power.

Two scenarios of operation of the engine-generator plant for an extended period (weeks to months) are the
loss of the local utility due to malfunctions within the utility systemresulting in extended outagesor the
catastrophic malfunction of the UPS system. The latter requires that the engine-generator plant be run to
ensure the most reliable and stable power is being delivered to the IT critical environment. If the local utility
is utilized during a UPS outage, then any perturbation or loss of the utility will impact the computer room
operation and potentially result in an outage.

Uptime Institute field experience and member data shows that the availability and reliability of the
infrastructure is paramount to achieving the business objectives or mission imperative for the data center.
Accordingly, engine generators must have no runtime limitations at N units.

Engine generators and their ratings are governed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Standard 8528-1. This standard covers Reciprocating Internal Combustion (RIC) engines, alternating
current (AC) generators, and associated systems. The three principal ratings as defined in the standard are
Emergency Standby, Prime, and Continuous.

Emergency Standby Power: The maximum power for which an engine-generator is capable of
delivering for up to 200 hours per year. The allowable average power output over a 24-hour run
period is 70% of the standby rating unless otherwise agreed to by the RIC manufacturer.

Prime Power: The maximum power for which an engine-generator is capable of delivering continuously
with a variable load for an unlimited number of hours. The allowable average power output over a
24-hour run period is 70% of the prime rating unless otherwise agreed to by the RIC manufacturer.

Continuous Power: The maximum power for which an engine-generator is capable of delivering
continuously for a constant load for an unlimited number of hours.

When practically applying these definitions and the requirement for no runtime limitations at N demand,
standby-rated units as defined with limited run hours do not comply with Tier III and IV. Standby units
allowed to run for limited durations at constrained capacitiesdo not afford the data center owner the
capability to run the engine-generator plant at capacity for extended periods to support operations during
critical events and do not meet Tier requirements. Some manufacturers allow only up to 500 hours per year
for certain units. However, a standby-rated unit can comply with Tier III and Tier IV requirements with proper
manufacturer documentation that establishes the unlimited run hour capacity of the unit at the site conditions.

Prime-rated units, per their definition, have more robustness than standby units. Many manufacturers offer
the same unit with both standby and prime ratings. However, in order to comply with the no runtime limitations
at N-load requirement, these units must be de-rated to 70% of their prime rating. Note, however, that some
manufacturers will offer a de-rating of more or less than 70% of the prime rating. It is important to work with
the manufacturer to commit to writing the specific allowance for runtimes and capacities. Continuous is the
only rating that complies with the requirement without any de-rating.

In summary, only continuous ratings, de-rated prime ratings or standby ratings with no runtime limitations
qualify for the Tier III or IV requirement for engine-generators.

Generator Tier I Tier II Tier III Tier IV
Any; up to Any; up to Capable of Capable of
nameplate rating to nameplate rating to supporting design supporting design
Rating to Support
support design load support design load load for unlimited load for unlimited
design load
hours at site hours at site
conditions conditions
Continuous Full nameplate capacity
Option 1: 70% of nameplate capacity
Prime Option 2: Larger capacity than Option 1
No additional requirement for hours of
with manufacturer letter
operation limitations
Can be used for Tier III and Tier IV with
Standby manufacturer letter; Tier Certification
capacity dependent on manufacturer letter
Derating for Site Additional derating may be required due to site conditions (ambient temperatures,
Conditions elevation)consult manufacturer requirements
Table 1: Tier Requirements SummaryEngine Generators

Related Publications
Tier Standard: Topology

Accredited Tier Designer Technical Paper Series

Further information can be found at

About the Uptime Institute

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