The amount of data generated by businesses and consumers every day is rising exponentially around the world, putting an extra strain on data centers’ performance. At the same time, this data is becoming increasingly mission critical to business success, making data center uptime imperative — businesses simply cannot afford unplanned downtime. As a result, protecting the availability and reliability of the network has never been more critical, and a reliable power distribution method is increasingly necessary for ensuring data center availability.
While uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) provide adequate power during short-term interruptions and ‘ride-through” time (before the system converts to a backup supply such as a generator) power issues should also be addressed at the source of energy distribution — between the utility and the UPS. To address this, data center and facility managers would be wise to consider additional and alternative solutions that enhance overall reliability of the data center’s electrical system, thus ensuring availability.
Modern power distribution equipment, such as shielded solid insulated switchgear technology (2SIS), can achieve this goal. An innovative, cost-effective solution, 2SIS enhances environmental and physical safety.
AN INNOVATIVE DESIGN
2SIS technology for medium voltage switchgear provides enhanced safety features, high efficiency, and increased ease of use. With 2SIS, there’s no exposed, medium-voltage live part within the inside of the switchgear; the circuit components within are entirely insulated by solid material covered by an external grounded coating. This means there are no electric fields exposed to air, mitigating the potential for injury for whoever is working on or near the equipment. This provides not only a safer environment, but reduces the risks of potential downtime caused by issues during maintenance.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL INSULATION
The complete solid insulation is what differentiates 2SIS from other switchgear technologies. In a typical switchgear set up, there is nothing in between the live electrical components. As such, when the environment degrades — such as when dust is introduced — faults can easily occur. In older switchgear systems, this frequently meant more maintenance and more outage risk. The shielded solid material in 2SIS medium-voltage switchgear reduces the likelihood of the conductors faulting due to a poor environment, limiting system outages.
Additionally, a common — and major — concern with air-insulated switchgear is that there is very little protection from arc flash within the switchgear itself. 2SIS technology inherently reduces the risk of internal arcing: each busbar is separated by the insulation, preventing them from interacting and arcing. Layered on top of the epoxy is a layer that is conductive and grounded, adding another level of safety and fault prevention. Systems that usually require maintenance every few years could now run properly for up to 10 years with 2SIS technology.
PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS
Over time, equipment can become exposed to moisture, dust, humidity, chemicals, rodents, or even insects, which can interfere with the functioning of the equipment. 2SIS technology provides protection from the elements, lessening the frequency of maintenance and enabling a longer life for the technology.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The cost associated with the distribution network is an important factor for data center facility operators to consider when planning electrical improvements aimed at increasing uptime. Newer 2SIS equipment is smaller and more modular, allowing data center managers to concentrate the same power in less space, providing for a more energy-efficient footprint. 2SIS technology also enables dramatically less frequent maintenance cycles — from two to three years to nearly 10 — significantly reducing associated maintenance costs, risks to personnel, and costly system outages.
The digital economy is driving unprecedented data center stress as businesses manage an increasing volume of data generated by connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). Data centers relying on aging air insulated switchgear (AIS) may need more maintenance and unplanned repair. This downtime can cause significant financial damage.
Before long, data center managers will need to replace outdated, aging switchgear within their facilities. 2SIS technology will not only contribute to making data centers in the U.S. more available and the facility environment safer, but will also make them more cost effective and energy efficient. The self-contained, enclosed and modular nature of this next-generation switchgear design reduces risk, virtually eliminates maintenance, and better ensures uptime.