Most modern IT equipment can operate at a range of voltages, with 240 volts being the standard maximum. Traditional United States electrical power arrangements, however, mean that equipment is generally operating at a much lower distribution voltage of 120 volts instead. This has a number of disadvantages.
1. Higher energy costs
Basic principles of electromagnetism dictate that when power is constant, any decrease in voltage will require an increase in current. Pouring more current through a wire, however, will increase the degree to which electrical power is lost before it can be consumed by the machine needing it. Since this lost power must be paid for, the result of a lower voltage is to increase the electrical power cost of a given machine.
2. Higher material costs
Since a lower voltage means a greater amount of current, thicker wires are required. Electrical wiring is made of copper, which is not a low-cost material in the current economic climate.
3. Higher floor space requirements
The power distribution units (PDUs) used in a 120-volt system are typically large. This can cause two issues. Not only do they consume excess floor space as compared to a 240-volt system, but they also create additional weight on the floor. This is because the transformers needed in a 120-volt system are heavy and are enclosed in large cabinets.
4. Oversized transformers
Another reason why energy costs are high in a 120-volt system is that the power distribution units taken together may have a capacity that is higher than that of the data center itself. This leads to losses of energy in the electrical transformers that must be used and it translates into higher energy costs.
An IT consulting firm can offer invaluable advice about how companies can provide their data centers with 240-volt power, which solves many of the problems associated with 120-volt electricity.