Power is the lifeblood of every data center, to ensure uninterrupted mission critical service 24/7. With all the elements of the electrical infrastructure, including power distribution units (PDU), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and generators, it may be easy to overlook a workhorse of the data center: the power cords that make the final connection between the power supply and the valuable IT equipment.
As server density increases and data centers are pressured to provide more compute power in the same, or smaller, space due to the always-on nature of our digital lives, power needs for each rack are growing. According to AFCOM, 62% of data centers report their rack density has increased over the past three years, with 25% reporting an average rack density of 7-10kW (up from an average density of about 5kW per rack in 2018). A with a single rack of equipment requiring 50 or more power cords and each additional cord taking up more space in the available cable pathways, facilities are running out of room.
There are two types of power cords typically used for that “last mile” in the data center: service, junior, thermoplastic (SJT) and service, vacuum, thermoplastic (SVT). SJT cords are the most commonly used power cabling in data centers today, with SVT cords in second place. This favoritism for SJT is largely by habit, and because the original specifications of the SVT cords have led to some confusion about where and how these cables can be used.
Both SVT and SJT power cords are durable, portable cords that come in a variety of lengths, and transmit the same loads and withstand the heat of a data center. The major difference between the two cord types is the jacket that protects the shielding and conductor in the cable. Because the jackets on SJT power cords are thicker, that has led to a mistaken belief that they are safer than SVT cords in a data center environment. As a result, many data centers are missing out on the unique benefits of SVT power cords in their facility.
Cords with a thinner outer diameter (OD), like the 18awg, C13-C14 SVT power cord, have several benefits. They reduce clutter because they take up less space; they cost less than SJT cords; they are more flexible than SJT cords, and they improve airflow around the computing equipment, which can lead to improved cooling of the data center, reducing power demands, and costs, for cooling.
In modern data centers, the right power cord for that final connection is the SVT cord, which delivers the electric load safely in a data center environment; is flexible enough to fit into server racks and throughout delicate equipment; and is color coded to enable easy organization, prevent accidental disconnects during moves, and manage the distribution of electricity demands across circuits.