Generator Package Design for Data Center Standby Power – Engineering Update

In November 2020, the telecommunications company announced 20 new data centers across the UK as part of its £ 2 billion investment. As the number of new sites continues to grow, data center operators will need to install and prepare the backup power systems they need to provide consistent services.Here, Clinton Noble, Sector Manager for Data Center Power Solutions, an energy and transportation expert Finning UK & IrelandProvides an overview of important considerations when designing standby power for your data center.

Data center standby power is mission critical. Continuous power supplies prevent outages from damaging mainframes and other IT infrastructure. Having a backup supply also protects customer data that could otherwise be lost, causing financial and reputational damage.

The operating power system of a data center has several components such as a cooling system, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), a high voltage (HV) and a low voltage (LV) switchgear. Diesel generators are popular with these backup power systems because of their reliability, fast response, long run times, and minimal maintenance.

We recommend that you design your generator package and standby power system according to the Uptime Institute. As an internationally recognized data center agency, it determines what each site layer requires. For example, a Tier IV site with maximum restoring force, unlike a Tier III site, must have continuous cooling. There are other design factors that data center operators should consider.


According to the UK Energy Research Center, data centers consume large amounts of electricity, which together account for about 1 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. When designing a backup generator, the first and often most important factor is the power rating. The standby generator must have enough power to keep all servers and equipment online during an outage.

When sizing the generator, the load required for the site is important. Operators need to consider starting currents, terminal voltages, voltage and frequency fluctuations, and other factors. It is also helpful to consider the efficiency of the UPS, the lighting and cooling loads, and how they form the estimation requirements. Tools are available that can determine the appropriate generator size.One example is SpecSizer, You can create a load profile and select the best generator set.

Most data centers, including new sites, have limited floor space. Operators can overcome this challenge by choosing a generator with a high power density. This is a measure of kilowatts generated in relation to size. The higher the power density, the higher the output produced in the plant room. High power density generators generate more power from smaller units and require less auxiliary equipment than larger machines, reducing installation and service costs.

Ambient temperature

The climate and ambient temperature in the data center are also important. The UK is getting warmer and warmer, which can affect the performance of generators. According to the Met Office’s 2019 UK Climate Report, the average UK temperature for the year was 1.1 ° C above the levels recorded between 1961 and 1990. The condition of the site, such as altitude, relative humidity, and fluctuating ambient temperature, is all the responsibility of the designer. It needs to be considered at an early stage.

If the ambient temperature in your data center is not as expected, you will need to redesign your generator set or auxiliary components to accommodate the difference. Service problems can occur if the data center gets too hot or cold.

Due to these temperature constraints, the operator does not have to worry about having a generator with the proper rated ambient capacity. However, a method to remove the waste heat generated during power generation is required. Design options may include minimizing the number of enclosures so that cooling air is not restricted and can flow more easily around the generator.

Maintaining uptime

Once a new generator and backup power system is installed, it is imperative to perform regular preventive maintenance. If the generator does not start, it is often due to a fuel or battery problem. Low battery water levels can cause damage. Liquids such as oils and coolants can also be contaminated, which can lead to engine malfunction and suboptimal performance. For example, too much metal particles in a lubricant can cause excessive wear. Contamination rates vary by duty cycle, load factor, age and fuel type.

Data center operators can minimize unplanned downtime by having a qualified and experienced service team in the field. These experts regularly monitor the condition of the battery by checking the water level and voltage and cleaning and tightening the terminals. You can also check engine fluid levels, sample engine fluids, and check for contamination with detailed reports and advice issued to operators.

Taking precautions means that data center operators can discover problems before they cause engine downtime. This helps protect your site from the normally time-consuming and costly outages and extends the life of your capital investment.

With only one carrier planning to open 20 data centers, a reliable backup power supply system is essential to protect new sites like these from outages. Data center operators should consider the design of the generator set and perform regular preventive maintenance to ensure uptime.

Need advice on designing or maintaining a diesel generator for your data center? For more information on Finning’s diverse and experienced data center support, visit our dedicated data center. Power solutions for data centers Finning website resources.

https://engineering-update.co.uk/2021/12/21/designing-generator-packages-for-data-centre-standby-power/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=designing-generator-packages-for-data-centre-standby-power Generator Package Design for Data Center Standby Power – Engineering Update

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