What Are PDU Types? A Comprehensive Guide for Data Centers


Updated on:

Hi there! I know just how crucial it is to have a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of data centers. In today’s fast-paced tech-oriented world, data centers are the backbone of the internet, storing and managing the endless streams of data we produce on a daily basis.

One of the building blocks of a data center is the power distribution unit (PDU). If you’re not familiar with PDUs, you’re not alone – many people have only a basic understanding of their function. But fear not, because in this comprehensive guide, I’m going to take you on a deep dive into PDU types and break down everything you need to know, step by step.

This guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the different types of PDUs commonly used in data centers, including basic, metered, monitored, and switched PDUs. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of how PDUs work, their purpose, and how to choose the right one for your data center needs.

So, whether you’re an IT professional or someone who simply wants to better understand the workings of data centers, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of PDU types together.

What are PDU types?

PDU types refer to power distribution units that are used in data centers for the distribution of electrical power to equipment racks. There are several types of PDU, with the most basic one being the rack basic PDU. This type of PDU offers basic power distribution without any monitoring or control capabilities. The other types of PDU are more advanced and offer more features to enhance power management and efficiency. These include the Rack Metered PDU, Rack Monitor PDU, and Rack Switched PDU. Below are some details about each of these PDU types:

  • Rack Basic PDU: This PDU provides basic power distribution without any metering or monitoring capabilities. It typically has a simple design, with multiple outlets or receptacles that are used to connect equipment in a rack. The rack basic PDU may have a circuit breaker or a fuse to protect against power overload, but it does not provide any control or monitoring features.
  • Rack Metered PDU: This type of PDU provides more advanced power management features, including remote monitoring and metering of power usage. The metering feature allows data center managers to track power usage in real-time, providing valuable insights that can be used to optimize energy efficiency and reduce costs. The Rack-metered PDU may also have temperature monitoring and other environmental sensors that can help to avoid equipment failure caused by overheating or other conditions.
  • Rack Monitor PDU: The Rack Monitor PDU is similar to the Rack Metered PDU, but it offers additional monitoring features such as humidity monitoring, door open/close detection, and airflow monitoring. This type of PDU provides detailed insights that help to maintain optimal conditions for equipment in the data center environment. The Rack monitor PDU is particularly useful for data centers with high-density rack deployments that require increased monitoring capabilities.
  • Rack Switched PDU: The Rack Switched PDU is the most advanced type of PDU, offering full control and monitoring capabilities. This PDU allows data center managers to remotely switch equipment on or off, reboot servers, and perform other power management functions. The Rack Switched PDU also provides detailed power usage data, environmental monitoring, and other features that help to optimize performance, reliability, and energy efficiency.

  • ???? Pro Tips:

    1. Familiarize Yourself with Different PDU Types: There are different types of Power Distribution Units (PDUs) available that are used in different environments. These include basic PDUs, metered PDUs, monitored PDUs, and switched PDUs. It’s important to know the differences between these types and choose the right one for your application.

    2. Consider Power Capacity: When selecting a PDU type, consider the power capacity required for your equipment. Ensure that the PDU has enough outlets to meet your power requirements.

    3. Plan for Future Growth: When selecting a PDU type, it is important to estimate your future power capacity needs. You can choose a PDU with additional outlets to meet your future capacity requirements.

    4. Look for Remote Monitoring Capabilities: Some PDUs come with a remote monitoring and management feature that allows you to monitor and control the power supply of your equipment from a remote location. This feature can be very useful in situations where you need to shut down or restart equipment remotely.

    5. Consider Redundancy: When selecting a PDU type, you may want to consider a redundant PDU. A redundant PDU provides a backup power supply in the event of a power outage, ensuring your equipment stays powered up.

    Introduction: Understanding PDU Types

    A Power Distribution Unit (PDU) is an essential component in a data center’s infrastructure. A PDU is used to distribute power from a main source to multiple devices such as servers, switches, and storage systems. It is important to understand the different types of PDU available in the market as they serve different purposes.

    Rack Basic PDU: A Simple Overview

    The Rack Basic PDU is the simplest version of a PDU available in the market. It provides basic power distribution capabilities, with multiple sockets to plug in devices. They are available in different form factors, depending on the number of sockets required. Common form factors are 1U, 2U, and 3U. Rack Basic PDU does not have any intelligence or built-in monitoring capabilities.

    The Rack Basic PDU is a cost-effective solution for data centers with basic power requirements. It is suitable for non-critical applications where a power outage would not cause significant damage.

    Rack Metered PDU: Monitoring Power Usage

    A Rack Metered PDU is equipped with built-in digital meters that allow data center managers to monitor power usage. The metering feature displays real-time power consumption data allowing data center managers to measure the power usage of individual devices, groups of devices, or the entire rack.

    The Rack Metered PDU allows data center managers to monitor power usage and identify inefficient devices, enabling them to take corrective action and optimize energy usage. Metered PDUs are available in different form factors and styles, including horizontal and vertical mounting options, and are suitable for small to medium data centers.

    Rack Monitor PDU: Advanced Power Monitoring

    A Rack Monitor PDU is a more advanced PDU that provides additional monitoring capabilities, like environmental sensors, humidity and temperature sensors, and door and motion sensors. The data from these sensors is sent to a central management system where data center managers can view and monitor environmental conditions, manage power usage, and troubleshoot problems.

    Rack Monitor PDU can be hardwired to the central management system, networked with other PDUs, or even provide remote access capabilities. The additional monitoring capabilities make the Rack Monitor PDU a suitable solution for environments where downtime can cause significant financial losses like a medical facility.

    Rack Switched PDU: Controlling Power Distribution

    A Rack Switched PDU provides full control over power distribution to each outlet remotely. The Switched PDU has additional features like remote power switching, power sequencing, outlet-level monitoring, and alerts.

    Data center managers can use these features to remotely power cycle specific outlets, turn on/off particular devices, or apply power sequencing to avoid overloading servers during startup. The Switched PDU is ideal for organizations that have critical systems and require granular control over power distribution.

    Key Features of PDU Types

    Rack Basic PDU

  • Provides basic power distribution.
  • Available in different form factors to suit different requirements.
  • Ideal for non-critical applications.

    Rack Metered PDU

  • Equipped with digital meters to monitor power consumption.
  • Displays real-time power usage data.
  • Helps to identify inefficient devices.

    Rack Monitor PDU

  • Additional environmental sensors for monitoring.
  • Hardwired or networked with central management system.
  • Suitable for critical systems where downtime can cause significant financial losses.

    Rack Switched PDU

  • Full control over power distribution remotely.
  • Remote power switching and sequencing capability.
  • Ideal for organizations with critical systems.

    Choosing the Right PDU for Your Needs

    Choosing the right PDU depends on several factors, including your power requirements, budget, and data center infrastructure. Consider your power needs carefully and choose a PDU that meets your requirements. If you need basic power distribution, then a Rack Basic PDU will be sufficient. If you are looking to monitor power usage, then a Rack Metered PDU is ideal. A Rack Monitor PDU would be suitable for large data centers or critical applications. If you require full control over power distribution, then a Rack Switched PDU is the best choice.

    In conclusion, selecting the right PDU for your data center is essential. Understanding the different types of PDUs available will help you make an informed decision based on your power needs, budget, and infrastructure requirements. Use this guide to choose the right PDU for your needs and ensure that your data center runs smoothly.