WRITE UP; DATA CENTERS

(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Apr
19 - 25, 2010

Data Centers are a critical part of the world economic systems. Billions of electronic transactions happen via data centers per year. These transactions can contain financial transactions that are critical to the parent company. Large credit card companies never want their system to be down even for a second.

Therefore, reliability is a major important factor to the customers. In addition, the customers are focused on their energy spend (efficiency) via the data center. They would like to make the plant operate with the lowest possible energy consumption. Medium Voltage Vacuum Circuit Breakers have a major role in Data Centers.

Data Centers have a number of unique characteristics and or needs. Some of the characteristics are unique to this market segment. Data Centers are a fast growing sector of the Medium Voltage Breaker market. Medium voltage circuit breakers with enhanced capabilities in concert with state-of-the-art protective/monitoring devices, for example, can help to simplify the task of providing power to the data centers and increase the value to the end customer.

In the past data centers would use only a few Medium Voltage breakers for a whole system. The power would be brought into the site via Medium Voltage and then quickly transformed to Low Voltage. This means a large amount of the breakers protecting the system would be Low Voltage Power Breakers. A growing trend in the industry is to bump up from Low Voltage to Medium Voltage. This is a change to increase the efficiency of the system.

Typical electrical systems have one power source for the whole building. If the power is lost at the utility source then the power is shut off to the building. One level higher of power protection is to put a backup generator in the system as a backup. Typically these systems can be switched on if the power is lost.

This transition can normally take seconds and or minutes to complete. Data centers have moved towards a special class of electrical systems that basically have two complete power systems that are interlaced with special UPS systems that allow for seamless transition of power from one source to another without dropping power. These systems in general normally take up twice the space and have twice the amount of protection products in the system. These systems are setup to avoid the system being down for any amount of time.

Eaton has medium Voltage Breakers (VCP-T and VCP-TL) that greatly reduce the footprint required for the total gear. In addition, the Eaton MEF front access gear allows for the gear to be placed up against a wall without a walkway to reduce the gear size. For the Data Center market this allows the consultant and or building manager to be able to fit more products in a smaller location.

Data centers are typically used for financial (Bank) transactions. Secondary usages are for web related activates (IT). The third category of usage is for telecommunications (telephone and cable). Data centers normally have about 23% - 54% of their energy usage associated with cooling of the equipment/facility. In addition, 38% - 63% is normally going to the IT loads at the facility. The high performance servers in the facility cause a large degree of heat which needs to be cooled down to avoid server problems. Each year higher capability servers are released that release more heat. Therefore, more heat needs to be pulled out of future installations. In addition, the virtualization and consolidation of servers to blade servers is driving higher power densities in data centers. Moving toward Medium Voltage breakers allows for consultants to grow / expand the capabilities in the same size footprint.

Eaton offers a technologically advanced family of medium voltage vacuum circuit breakers from 5 through 38 kV designed to address many of the stringent requirements of the data center market. In addition, Eaton circuit breakers are well accepted by utilities around the country and have already been applied in almost all applications. Data centers normally have Medium Voltage breakers in the 5-15 kV categories.

Reliability is very important for data centers. The Medium Voltage breakers within these systems must have a high degree of reliability. Eaton has worked diligently to reduce the mechanical and or electrical issues associated with products to increase the reliability. In addition, Eaton has focused on using Six Sigma tools to increase the reliability and endurance of the product to the high levels expected by data center customers. Some useful tools used were Wiebul Analysis, Design of Experiments (DOE), and Design for Manufacturing (DFM) / Assembly (DFA).

Operating cost efficiency is an important factor that consultants use when they specify a data center. The change to Medium Voltage allows for a significant increase in efficiency of the building versus systems that use Low Voltage breakers.

Data Center consultants also specify the systems so that they can make a more effective use of capital. The equipment needs to be lower cost, smaller size, with extended life cycles, and higher service protection. Eaton has offerings that allow the customer to have lower up front and long term costs. As an example the MEF MV gear is smaller than traditional gear via using the VCP-T or VCP-TL Medium Voltage breakers. The VCP-TL Linear actuator breaker has at least a 3X mechanical life. This allows the product to be used more frequently without reducing the total life cycle.

Safety to users and or workforce at the facilities is a growing need at the facilities. Some sights take extra measures in terms of safety to try to reduce the insurance costs. Eaton has responded by coming out with the new 520MCV with ARM's and 1150V Integral Protective Relay. These relays have a safety related setting that reduces the available arc energy when selected by the maintenance personnel when they are working on a machine. Eaton has a Partial Discharge measuring system that detects partial discharge issues prior to having an arc event. This helps avoid arc fault issues.

In order to maximize uptime the data centers use redundancy systems. The Medium Voltage breakers in these systems are increasing the reliability to keep the systems working efficiently. Data centers are often performing risk management analysis's to verify the risk inherent in their systems. The enhancements to Eaton Medium Voltage breakers mechanical and electrical capabilities allows for a lower risk solution. As an example the VCP-TL linear actuator breaker has a longer life which reduces the chances of end of life failures. Another example is that the 520MCV with ARM's reduces the available arc energy to reduce the risk of major burns to the maintenance workers.

The requirements for data center applications are not only somewhat unique, but varying as technological advances are made in the industry. Now circuit breaker manufacturers must go beyond considering just the pure electrical needs. This fact makes it difficult for one-size fits all approach to meeting the industry's electrical requirements.

A variety of considerations i.e. Generator needs, Distribution needs, Physical size, Operational and maintenance longevity, Condition monitoring and communications; are necessary. Data center circuits have unique characteristics that require specially designed and tested circuit breakers. The Eaton VCP-TL (Figure 3) breaker is an excellent choice for data centers.

The Eaton linear (magnetic) actuated circuit breakers have taken a huge step in the direction of a medium voltage circuit breaker for use in distribution systems and or data centers with significantly reduced maintenance, greatly increased operational ratings, and reduced life cycle costs. In addition, it is noticeably smaller and lighter than comparable breakers because of smaller internal components. The result is a highly reliable circuit breaker with mechanism capable of 100,000 operations due to its small number of moving parts. The mechanism has fewer moving parts and therefore fewer chances for process related problems.

The linear (magnetic) actuator mechanism is relatively maintenance free over its lifetime. Two control voltages are available. A low control voltage range of 36-60 Vac and 36-72 Vdc and a high control voltage range of 100-240 Vac and 100-353 Vdc. The electronic controller was tested for operational integrity for the extended life of the circuit breaker. All normally expected and required safety features previously associated with spring stored energy circuit breakers, such as trip free operation, an anti-pump feature and other safety interlocks are provided.

The loss of control power is of no concern since the circuit breaker can have an OPEN operation performed up to 48 hours after the loss of control power. In addition, the circuit breaker can be opened using its integral front mounted emergency open handle at any time. The linear actuated medium voltage circuit breakers and the extra capacity versions are tested to ANSI Standards. The draw-out configuration is a three-position draw out (Disconnect, Test, Connect) device used in conjunction with a fixed draw out cassette. Fixed configuration devices utilize bolted bus or cable connections.

An integrally mounted microprocessor-based Digitrip trip unit (protective relay) can be used to add a large number of sophisticated features to the circuit breaker. These features range from protective features to displays to monitoring and communications. Having the relay integral to the breaker allows for the breaker and relay to be certified from the production plant as complete systems instead of as two components. This increases the reliability and avoids external wiring breaks. Finally, the circuit breakers use highly reliable Eaton vacuum interrupters for circuit interruption, certainly the preferred interruption method used today worldwide.

Electrical equipment support will remain a critical factor when it comes to the degree of success achieved by the data center industry. Equipment must be increasingly sophisticated and operationally superior.

Manufacturers must focus on how to provide equipment with advanced capabilities requiring less frequent attention and longer life. This is quite a challenge and overall applicable, regardless of the type of electrical equipment being considered. Eaton Medium Voltage Vacuum Circuit Breakers are capable of handling the unique needs of the data center market.