Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (2023)

Power Distribution Unit, also known asPDUrefers to a device with multiple outlets for controlling and distributing electrical power, typically used in the racks of network equipment in a data center.

A simple PDU performs the same function as a power strip, which can supply multiple devices with power from a single power source, such as a refrigerator. B. a wall socket supplied. The rack-mount PDU that we are going to discuss today mounts directly into the equipment rack to monitor and control power, which helps in balancing the power loads for some specific equipment such as servers and switches. And it's usually either 19 inches or 23 inches wide. Unlike other types of PDUs that are designed to be wall mounted or attached to the side of an equipment rack, rack PDUs reduce the distance between the power outlets of the PDU and the power inlets of the equipment being powered.

According to different classification standards, the rack PDUs come in different types for different applications: non-intelligent and intelligent PDUs, single-phase and three-phase PDUs, vertical and horizontal PDUs, etc.Available PDU types on the marketgives you a comprehensive introduction to various PDUs.

Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (1)

The benefits of introducing a Power Distribution Unit

reduce energy costs

Using PDU means running different outputs from the same source. This makes it much easier to channel the energy and avoid unnecessary waste.

Provide reliability for power loads

PDUs can help connect each outlet to a computer or network device to provide multiple integrated power outlets. Deploying a PDU solution helps protect against data loss and downtime caused by a disconnected plug.

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Create an organized structure

Simply put, no more clutter. The optimal form factor takes up less space for efficient use of rack space. Also, the mass situation of a hundred different wires running around going to different places will no longer exist. The PDU will be the central control center of all power outlets.

Offer you a convenient and flexible installation

Rack PDUs are generally easy to assemble. PDUs with color-coded circuitry make it easy to identify phases to output banks to aid in fault isolation or load balancing. The Rack PDUs are available in either vertical or horizontal formats and can be custom designed to meet the specific power requirements of some vendors. Most of them are versatile and inexpensive to meet various network needs.

How many types of sockets for PDU?

For PDU outlets, most of them follow the NEMA standard set by the US National Electrical Manufacturers Association. The NEMA connectors, including power plugs and outlets, are used for AC power in North America and other countries that use the standards.

The NEMA wiring devices are manufactured in current ratings from 15 to 60 amperes (A) with voltage ratings from 125 to 600 volts (V). The number after the dash means the amperage of the device, while the letters have different meanings - R stands for "receptacle", while P stands for "plug" and L stands for latch (socket or plug). For example, the 5-15R is the standard three-wire, two-pin, 125V outlet rated at 15 amps. The L5-15R shares the same electrical rating and is a latching design that is not physically compatible with the straight-blade 5-15 design. And the 5-30R has the same two-pin, three-wire configuration and 125V rating, but is rated for 30A.

Each rack PDU provides a specific number of receptacles/outlets that vary based on the physical size (i.e., length, width, and depth) of the PDU, as well as the total space available and the PDU's load capacity. For example, a 1U rack-mounted PDU provides enough space for eight 120V/15A NEMA 5-15R outlets. And a 2U rack-mounted PDU, which is larger and has more available space and can handle higher power consumption, can potentially support twenty 120V/15A NEMA 5-15R outlets.

Established by the Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), IEC 60320 is another standard that specifies non-locking connectors for connecting power cords to electrical equipment. The voltage should not exceed 250V (AC) while the rated current should not exceed 16A. C13 and C19 standard outlets are equipped with the cable locking system to prevent accidental disconnections commonly found on servers, routers and switches. C14 plugs for C13 and C20 plugs for C19 are a universally compatible solution.

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Here are the illustrations of some commonly used socket types:

Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (2)

What are the typical PDU power designs?

Traditional PDU power design

In a traditional PDU power design using simple rack PDUs, a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is typically used to support the servers, switches, and storage devices. In the event of a power failure, maintenance or replacement of the UPS, the device must be shut down.

This type of design is easy to implement and low risk for designers. However, the disadvantages of such constructions are clear, such as. B. the consumption of floor space, the disruption of the airflow used for cooling and the risk of human error when working with circuit breakers and cables that are not clearly assigned to a specific load. In addition, these types of traditional data center power implementations are not flexible or adaptable, which is costly and time consuming to upgrade.

Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (3)


PDU with Maintenance Bypass (MBP) allows an electrical load to be seamlessly transferred from UPS power to utility power for uninterrupted operation of connected equipment. Without shutting down the device, the power supply can be disconnected from the UPS when it needs to be replaced. The UPS draws input power from the MBP through a dedicated outlet that is separate from the outlets for attached equipment.

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Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (4)

ATS PDU-Power-Design

ATS (Automatic Transfer Switches) PDUs provide power redundancy for devices with only one power supply. They distribute unfiltered electrical continuity from redundant plugs to sockets. Dual power cords can be connected to separate power sources to provide redundancy for single-cord devices. If power for the primary source exceeds the low or high thresholds, or if power is lost, the PDU switches to the secondary power source to ensure continued operation. When the incoming power becomes stable, the PDU switches back to the primary power source. The current draw for connected devices is displayed in amperes on the front LCD to monitor the load in real time.

Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (5)

After comparing these three typical designs, it can be concluded that the first conventional one is better suited for some simple applications in short-reach network scenarios. For some large data centers, this type of design is no longer sufficient to meet IT service level agreements. The MBP PDU and ATS PDU solutions can significantly improve system reliability at a small cost penalty, which is optimal for current power distributions.

Where are PDUs installed?

Many rack PDUs are available in 0U, 1U, or 2U. "U" represents the unit of measure for racks, PDUs, and UPS products. Typically, rack-mounted PDUs can be mounted either horizontally or vertically, inside or outside of a rack.

Horizontal PDUs are typically available in 1U or 2U heights and are designed to mount in standard 19-inch wide EIA-310 equipment racks. Because of their smaller size, horizontal PDUs typically have fewer outlets, but can be mounted above, below, or between components of the rack.

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Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (6)

Vertical PDUs are mounted on the upright rails of a rack enclosure known as an 0U. Vertical mounting means you don't take up valuable horizontal mounting space for your other devices. Vertical PDUs are typically longer and have up to 40 outlets.

Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Quick Start Guide | FS community (7)

Comparing these two installation methods, one concludes that the horizontal units are limited in the number of outlets that can be placed in the PDU as they are limited by the rack width, while the longer vertical units can provide more outlets.

What about the future prospects for PDUs?

Data center designers often face energy management challenges. After continuous revolutions, the current PDUs can help regulate the voltage in a data center environment and provide real-time data on the input and output power of the IT infrastructure, enabling better power management in the event of equipment failures. Therefore, PDUs will still be the critical components for managing and distributing power to switches, servers and other network devices in data centers.

According to statistics, the global Power Distribution Units market is poised to grow at a CAGR of about 7.1% and reach about US$5.2 billion by 2024 during the forecast period. For the global PDU market, North America still holds the largest share, while significantly increasing demand can be seen from countries in APAC, such as India and China. Among a variety of PDU types, smart PDUs are projected to occupy the largest market share from 2020 to 2024 during the forecast period. Increasing acceptance of telecom and IT for new data centers will encourage administrators to invest more in upgrading their existing facilities or building new ones, indicating the promising prospects for PDUs.Market Analysis for Power Distribution Units (PDU).offers you a market insight report on the current and future trends of PDUs.

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