New data by IHS reveals that 8.0% of three-phase, transformer-based power distribution units (PDU) sold into the Americas in 2014 had a distribution voltage of 400 VAC, accounting for $13.9 million of the $155.1 million American PDU market. The recently published IHS, Data Center Power Distribution Report – 2015, quantifies the market for transformer-based PDU, remote power panels (RPP), static transfer switches, branch circuit monitoring, and overhead busway. In this edition, the PDU and RPP categories are segmented by distribution voltage in order to enable IHS to track the trend of 400 VAC power architectures in American data centers.  

Although the majority of PDUs sold into the Americas are still 480 VAC, accounting for $129.8 million in 2014, the adoption of 400 VAC is growing. This new data on transformer-based PDU distribution voltage further supports data from the Rack Power Distribution Units Report – 2015, published earlier this year. In that report, IHS found that 400 VAC rack PDUs accounted for roughly 6% of the $418.0 million market. Insights from suppliers of data center power distribution equipment reveal that this shift is currently occurring in new data center builds in North America.

Typically, the power architecture used in a data center depends on the standard voltage of the country in which the data center resides. In North America, parts of Central and South America, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, transformer-based PDUs are typically 480 VAC. The transformer steps down the voltage, and power is delivered to the IT racks at 208/120 VAC. In contrast, much of the rest of the world distributes power through the data center at 400/230 VAC or 415/240 VAC. Data centers in North America have begun adopting 400 VAC architectures because it requires reduced electrical drops, can lead to electrical and infrastructure savings, and contributes to overall increases in efficiency.

This shift in power trends has significant implications for the data center power distribution hardware market and transformer-based PDUs in particular. Depending on the power path in the data center, using a 400VAC architecture could result in either a PDU with a smaller transformer, or the removal of the PDU altogether if the power is to be transformed elsewhere in the power path, like an upstream transformer or at the UPS. Thus, further adoption of 400 VAC could dampen PDU revenue growth, unit growth, or both. However, it could bolster sales of RPPs, which serve the same purpose of distributing power but lack the transformer.

IHS regularly analyzes all aspects of the data center infrastructure market. The Data Center Power Distribution Report – 2015 provides in-depth analysis across three world regions: the Americas, EMEA, and Asia. Unit shipments, average unit prices, and revenue are estimated for 2014 and forecast through 2019. The market is segmented by sub-region, product type, power rating, breaker rating, distribution voltage, sales channel, vertical market, and application. Supplier market share estimates, and an analysis of the competitive environment, are also provided.