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More Power!

Computer and phone equipment take a lot of power to operate. Not just any power, but clean power. By clean power, I mean power at a consistent voltage, minus surges and sags. We installed an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in every rack. A UPS contains large batteries that keep the equipment running in the event of a power loss. It also reduces the spikes caused by brownouts (temporary power surges). Each UPS is responsible for keeping the equipment in its rack operable.

We also installed a dedicated electrical panel in the computer room, with dedicated separate circuits per UPS. This spreads out the load and reduces the likelihood tripped circuits from drawing too much current.

You really need to understand the power requirements of your UPSs in order to tell your electrician what circuits you need. I had to do a lot of research in this area to make sure that I asked for the right thing from the electrical contractor. I recommend American Power Conversion (APC) UPSs. At their web site, I studied the face plates that the servers would plug into and the power cord plugs, to determine what types of outlets the electricians needed to provide. I took the opportunity to buy more UPSs to have one for each rack. We had to install 20 amp circuits with plugs that resemble clothes dryer AC hookups. Because we had to move the computer room over a weekend and have it working by Monday morning, it was not an option to install the wrong electrical outlets. There would be no time to make a correction over the weekend without paying an electrician overtime and looking foolish for not getting it right the first time.

Finally, for safety, we installed a power kill switch. Like its name suggests, at the touch of a button—actually a good strike from the palm of your hand—you can turn off all the power in the computer room. The reason for doing so would most likely be an electrical fire. We installed a cover over the kill switch so no one could accidentally turn off the power. Because we have a dedicated electrical panel for the computer room, we could install a kill switch to control just the power for that room.

As a safety precaution, we also installed two halon fire extinguishers. Halon is a gas that can extinguish fires without ruining electronic components. (Note: We do have one real water sprinkler that would be used in the event of a real fire.)

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