Test, test, and test again should be the motto of every data center. Explore what needs to be checked and how it’s done.
- Data center electrical infrastructures are intricate and delicate
- Regular electrical tests and maintenance are essential to successful operations
- Electrical testing companies use various tools to conduct international standards tests
Data centers need reliable power 24/7. No exceptions! A single weak link could cause anything from super-expensive downtime to total system shutdown. The way to stay ahead of problems is to create and follow a series of regular checkups to ensure every part of the data center is in top shape.
Regular electrical inspections, tests, and maintenance of data centers in commercial buildings don’t have to be stressful. The professionals have all the proper electrical testing equipment to examine everything. Here’s how it’s all tested and who to call to get it done.
Data center electrical infrastructure
The electrical infrastructure of data centers is sprawling and complex, but we’ll summarize it here. The first requirement is that infrastructure must be as reliable as possible, so there must also be a strong redundancy option in place for all equipment.
These backups are used when the original component fails or must be temporarily disabled for maintenance or replacement. Redundancy components are typically housed away from the primaries in case the same cause of breakdown takes both components out at the same time.
Data center wiring runs underground and overhead and is typically copper or aluminum, depending on the component it’s connected to. The voltage conducted by wiring depends on your data center’s needs.
Circuit breakers are another vital infrastructure component. These should be optimized to kick in selectively when there’s a problem with one or more parts of the infrastructure to isolate only those faulty components.
Your electrical infrastructure should have a backup for its backup
One of the most important backups for a data center is installing the right-sized commercial generator. This should be tailored to your peak voltage needs and can be an electrical lifesaver if your grid goes down during a power surge, which can seriously damage data center infrastructure. Get your generator load tested at least once a year by professionals and test it regularly yourself by running it for 30 minutes once a week.
Electrical testing via an electrical inspector
Electrical inspections often cause one of two reactions in data center managers. They’re either mystified about what the process involves, or they’re worried about being shut down. Our earlier blog explained commercial electrical inspections in-depth, and there’s really nothing to worry about!
Yes, your data center will have to be inspected from top to bottom, which includes all electrical outlets, equipment, and circuit boxes. Yes, most businesses will have something exposed that needs to be improved, but if you’re willing to make those improvements ASAP, you and the inspector can part ways with a high five.
Following the inspector’s guidance will help keep your people, premises, and property safe. It will also make their next visit (and you must schedule at least one inspection annually) a breeze.
Scheduling an electrical inspection right away is particularly important if you’ve moved into new commercial premises. This is because the structure of your new site and its local power regulations probably won’t be the same as in your old data center, so everything will need to be tested again.
How electricians test data centers
Professionals use several types of electrical equipment while following standards set by ANSI/NETA. These apply internationally and detail the recommended specifications for both maintenance testing and acceptance testing.
Maintenance tests can happen at any time, while acceptance tests are carried out early. This is to verify that all components are working well and conforming with industry and manufacturer expectations before a data center is powered up. Here are some of the methods an electrical testing company would use and some of the electrical testing tools for different jobs:
-Testing transformers and circuit breakers
Digital low resistance ohmmeters (DLRO) are electrical testing meters that measure extremely low resistance values. It can be used to check for faulty windings or bad connections in transformers.
Transformers have a primary and secondary winding responsible for drawing and delivering energy, and both must be operating efficiently. Insulation tests may be conducted to check for contaminants or moisture in the transformer, and DLRO tests can also be conducted on circuit breakers.
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is an essential backup for data centers. You may need to install one correctly the first time or have your current UPS redesigned. It should be electrically tested in both cases, especially their batteries. Electrical testing companies will examine a UPS for signs of leaks or degradation and use infrared thermographic surveys to see if the battery is running hot.
-Cable voltage testing
Cables can be tested using the very low frequency (VLF) method. Conducted at only 0.1 Hz, the VLF uses alternating current to check how well cables can tolerate further testing. These tests must be conducted at low levels to avoid overloading cables with more power than they typically manage while in service.
-Optical Electromagnetic Radiative Recognition
Or, as we call it in the trade, “Just using your eyes.” The experienced gaze of an electrician is one of the most trustworthy tests. It can easily spot signs of leaks, corrosion, or poor maintenance, which may be at the heart of reduced equipment performance or malfunction.
Some tests will be mandatory a certain number of times per year, while the unique demands of a particular site will dictate how much testing is required in between. Working with an experienced electrical testing company helps data centers determine which tests are necessary and what schedule they should follow.
Contact UES for expert electrical assistance
We’ve got years of experience in building, renovating, and relocating data centers, and we do it all with a minimum of downtime to your current operations. Our team can test your electrical infrastructure, so you know where you stand on efficiency or recommended repairs. Just contact us at Universal Electrical to ask any questions or to get a free quote!