10 reasons why using power boards in data centres is a high-risk practice

10 reasons why using power boards in data centres is a high-risk practice

Looking back at the festive season as we illuminate our homes, it's imperative to extend our commitment to safety beyond personal spaces. The hidden dangers of power boards become even more pronounced as we connect all our lights, devices and technology, especially in critical environments like data centres. Let's unravel the potential risks and explore safer alternatives to power board usage.

Poorly maintained and misused power boards pose substantial risks, contributing to life-threatening fires and significant property damage. Alarming statistics from Fire and Rescue NSW indicate over 350 residential house fires in New South Wales annually are initiated by electrical faults.

Home Safety

Before delving into data centre concerns, let's reflect on the safety precautions we diligently practice at home during the holidays. While planning the festive lighting, decorating with electronic displays, and utilising power boards, it's crucial to avoid potential hazards. Overloading power boards with excessive lights and devices can lead to overheating, electrical fires, and disruptions to our celebrations. It serves as a vivid reminder that, even in moments of joy, safety remains a top priority.

So, what are the key safety issues with power boards?
  • Overloading: A common and dangerous practice leading to electrical fires.
  • Dust Build-Up: Accumulated dust poses a fire risk in unused points.
  • Dislodged Power Leads: Leads can become dislodged over time, particularly in high-traffic areas.
  • Poor Cable Placement: Inadequate cable placement contributes to power board issues.
  • Inadequate Ventilation: Limited ventilation hampers heat dissipation, increasing the risk of overheating.
  • Power Consumption Ignorance: Insufficient knowledge about appliance power draw leads to unsafe usage.
  • Heavy TransformersTransformers can unbalance, partially unplug, and overheat due to poor connections.

Beyond the Home: Risks in Data Centres

In data centres, where critical operations reside, the risks associated with power boards are magnified. Linking power boards together may seem convenient, but it poses a significant threat. In 2022 research have found that power-related outages account for 43% of significant outages, causing downtime and financial loss.

While data center downtime rates have shown a gradual decline in recent years, the diminishing frequency doesn't necessarily equate to reduced financial impact. In fact, the rising dependence on digital services has escalated the costs associated with outages. According to the Uptime Institute, a quarter of respondents in a recent study reported that their most recent outage incurred costs exceeding US$1 million in both direct and indirect expenses. Additionally, 45% indicated costs ranging between $100,000 and $1 million. This underscores the critical importance of preventing downtime in today's digital landscape, where the financial repercussions of interruptions can be substantial.

Here are 10 reasons why using power boards in data centres is a high-risk practice

  1. Overloading Circuits: Daisy-chained power boards can overload circuits, causing unexpected outages.
  2. Tripping Switchboards: Interconnected power boards can trip switchboards, leading to widespread downtime.
  3. Heat Buildup: Excessive power board usage generates heat, risking equipment overheating and damage.
  4. Fire Hazard: Overloaded power boards are a significant fire hazard, jeopardising both equipment and personnel.
  5. Compromised Resilience: Power boards compromise data centre infrastructure resilience, inviting unexpected failures.
  6. Reduced Efficiency: Daisy chaining power boards leads to voltage drops and reduced power efficiency.
  7. Equipment Damage: Strain on circuits can damage sensitive IT equipment, resulting in costly repairs and data loss.
  8. Regulatory Compliance: Non-compliance with safety standards can lead to legal consequences and tarnish a data centre's reputation.
  9. Operational Disruptions: Unplanned outages due to power board issues disrupt day-to-day operations, impacting business continuity.
  10. Safety Risks: Unsafe power board use compromises personnel safety, leading to potential electrical accidents.

A Call for More Cautious Practices

In the evolving landscape of data centre management, adopting cautious practices that prioritise safety, resilience, and operational continuity is paramount. IT managers and data centre professionals must steer clear of pitfalls associated with power boards.

Here are comprehensive safety measures:

  • Safety-Enhanced Power Boards: Opt for boards with built-in safety switches/circuit breakers to enhance protection.
  • Avoid Overloading: Prevent potential fire hazards by ensuring power boards are not overloaded.
  • Horizontal Placement: Lay power boards on their sides to prevent dust build-up and maintain optimal performance.
  • Regular Inspection: Routinely check and secure all plugs in power boards to avoid dislodgment and ensure consistent functionality.
  • Ensure Ventilation: Provide proper ventilation for effective heat dissipation, crucial for preventing overheating.
  • Inspect for Damage: Regularly examine power boards and leads for signs of damage or degradation, addressing issues promptly.

Specialised Solutions for Data Centres

So what can you do differently? Discover practical steps to enhance power management within data centers and ensure a secure operational environment below. 

1. Professional Rack Power Distribution Units (PDUs)
Invest in purpose-built PDUs designed for data center environments, ensuring safe and efficient power distribution.

2. Structured Cabling
Implement structured cabling solutions to organize power distribution without resorting to daisy chaining power boards, reducing potential risks.

3. Regular Audits
Conduct regular audits of power infrastructure to proactively identify and rectify potential risks before they escalate.

4. Compliance Adherence
Ensure strict adherence to safety and regulatory standards to safeguard both equipment and personnel, fostering a secure operational environment.

By combining these safety measures with specialised solutions for data centres, businesses can significantly reduce the risks associated with power-related incidents, ensuring the safety of both personnel and critical equipment.

As the holiday season unfolds, and you navigate the complexities of power management in critical environments, we invite you to prioritise safety, resilience, and uninterrupted operations. Should uncertainties linger or questions arise, our team stands ready to assist.

Reach out to our experts—trained and certified electrical specialists dedicated to ensuring your data centre remains secure and operational. Because when it comes to the heart of your operations, having a reliable partner is the brightest gift you can give.

Want to ensure you have the right set up for your power needs? Take a look at our wide range of Power Distribution Units (PDUs) here


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