Data Center

5 Ways to Improve Data Center Energy Efficiency with PDUs

Denis Blouin

How can you tame runaway IT energy costs – the biggest operating expense in your data center?


Several factors impact data center energy use: cooling and temperature levels, water consumption, lighting, IT equipment efficiency, etc. In future blogs, we’ll focus in more detail on each of these factors. Today, however, we’re uncovering ways to use power distribution units (PDUs) to improve data center energy efficiency.


At their most basic level, PDUs are simply well-constructed power strips for use in a data center environment. But they’ve come a long way. Today’s smart, or intelligent, PDUs allow data center managers to remotely monitor power use, energy efficiency and environmental conditions by offering access to:

  • Real-time power usage
  • Data and event logs
  • Current drawn by each PDU
  • Current drawn by each outlet

Armed with this data, you can make powerful, well-informed decisions to lower energy usage without negatively impacting data center performance or reliability.

Here are five ways that PDUs improve data center energy efficiency.


1. Calculate energy metrics, such as power usage effectiveness (PUE)

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again (and again): You can’t manage what you don’t measure. PUE is a widely accepted benchmarking standard from Green Grid that helps data center managers determine energy efficiency by measuring how effectively data centers use input power. It provides insights into efficiency efforts, and can also help determine when something has gone awry.


Power data obtained from PDUs can help you calculate PUE at a granular level. Intelligent PDUs send power-usage data over the network to a DCIM database to automatically calculate PUE. Total power used in each rack can be compared to the building’s overall power usage to create the foundation for PUE calculation.


2. Monitor energy-usage trends

If you’re not monitoring energy usage, how will you ever know consumption gets out of hand? Manually or physically monitoring each of your PDUs individually would be extremely difficult; collecting the information in a database allows you to monitor rack-level power information, store the data, trend it and then use it to make decisions about your data center.



Depending on the parameters you set, when something is perceived to be outside normal operating conditions, the monitoring system can send a targeted alert. For example, when a PDU is reaching its total power capacity level, it can alert the data center manager before breaker capacity is reached and let him/her know that it’s time to bring in more PDUs to prevent outages to computing gears.


3. Improve capacity planning

Is your data center at power capacity? At surface level, it may appear to be – but when you employ intelligent PDUs to perform outlet-level monitoring, you can pinpoint areas within the data center where simple equipment rearrangement may free up power or improve safety by moving equipment that is close to circuit limit.


Once equipment is moved to its new place, PDUs monitor temperature and other environmental conditions to make sure performance hasn’t been compromised.


4. Optimize device-level performance

When you can calculate operating costs for each device on your network – from servers to storage equipment – and know how much power each device uses, you can easily identify the energy hogs. You can also use device-level performance metrics to determine whether a more efficient device would be worth the investment by comparing how much “work” you receive from the device in relationship to the amount of power it consumes.


PDUs can also identify equipment that is no longer needed. For example, when a PDU indicates that a certain server is running at an average of 35% of peak power, you’ll know right away – and be able to earmark that server as a candidate for decommissioning.


5. Quickly correct environmental changes

Failed power supply, temperature increases, a sudden surge in power usage … these changes can all be identified by an intelligent PDU. When PDUs alert you to these types of environmental or performance changes via e-mail or text, you’ll learn about – and be able to act upon – the changes before they turn into a major issue that causes downtime and lost revenue.



Intelligent PDUs can help you make adjustments to ensure that power is dedicated to your data center’s revenue-generating equipment, without sacrificing reliability or performance. Billing-grade PDUs with power monitoring at the outlet level can also allow multi-tenant data center operators to precisely bill each customer based on individual power usage.


Belden can help you reduce data center operating costs and lower energy expenses with enclosure, single-phase and 3-phase PDUs. Find simple solutions to your data center energy-efficiency challenges here.