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Step 3: Power Requirements

Here's Step 3 of the eight key steps you need to consider when building a data center or server room.

Determining how much power you'll need can be complex, and you should consult with an electrician to determine the maximum load ratings for every piece of hardware that will be in your data center.

On average, 45 to 60 watts per square foot is typical. However, a densely packed server room may require 80-100 watts per square foot or more. Don't forget to add the power requirements for the overhead lighting, UPS, rack mounted fans and air-conditioning units.

Next, estimate the number of outlets required and their approximate placement. For any floor-mounted outlets, consider using power whips (outlets attached to flexible cabling) instead of fixed outlets to allow some flexibility in moving server racks. Be sure to distribute the server's electrical load across the circuits, and build this into your expansion planning guidelines. Consider isolating cooling and ventilation power onto its own circuit to prevent power fluctuations. All power cables should be shielded in a flexible steel conduit encased in a cooper shield to prevent electrical noise (EMI) from reaching your network cables and equipment.

The power redundancy requirements of your server room will depend on your uptime requirements. Data centers with domain controllers, DNS servers, web servers and other mission critical systems will require backup generators as well as UPS units. Decide early which servers (and circuits) will be tied to generator power and which will simply be tied to Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS).

Finally, check the quality of the power coming into the building, and make sure that it's within the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications. If not, consider installing power conditioning devices.

(You can find more details from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Web site,


  Home: Introduction
  Step 1: Determine size requirements
  Step 2: Reserve a location
  Step 3: Power Requirements
  Step 4: Environmental concerns
  Step 5: Rack solutions and cable management
  Step 6: Flooring: choice of materials matter
  Step 7: Security
  Step 8: Finalize the layout

Bernie Klinder, MVP, consultant
Bernie Klinder is a technology consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies. He is also the founder and former editor of, a comprehensive resource index for IT professionals who support Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 and BackOffice products. For his contributions to the information technology community, Bernie was selected as an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft. Copyright 2004 TechTarget

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