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How to Select the Optimal Data Center Power Cord

When designing a facility or mapping equipment paths, power cords can be one of the most overlooked aspects. Yet deploying the wrong model can wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure. Conversely, choosing the optimal cord can significantly improve energy efficiency, bolster uptime and ensure safety. Follow these simple guidelines:

1. Pick your plug. Knowing the current rating and voltage of equipment can help you pinpoint the correct plug for your application. Plug choices include type (NEMA 5-15P, NEMA 5-20P, NEMA L6-20P and NEMA L15-30P), prong count (two to five) and shape (oval, round, straight blade and rectangular). Make sure your power cord is certified by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

2. The long and short of it. Whenever possible, choose a shorter cord. Not only is aggregate power lost by cords that are too long for the power path ── which can add up on utility bills ── but the length affects airflow because longer cords block air passages. 

3. Give colored cords the green light. Colored power cords provide a foolproof way to trace the source of equipment as well as to easily identify redundant power paths. Consider labeling critical equipment that should never be unplugged with a specific color cord (such as red). Or have some fun matching cords to school or company colors. 

4. Gauge the gauge. Thicker gauged cords not only transport energy more efficiently, but those too thin for the amperage requirements of equipment can result in a fire hazard. Even if the power cord is adequate for your current load, choosing a thicker gauge can help futureproof a rack. 

5. Shield it. Shielded power cords can reduce intermittent data problems and performance degradation issues stemming from electromagnetic interference (EMI). These problems often result when Ethernet connections made with unshielded twisted pair (UTP) grade cable reside in close proximity to an unshielded AC power cord.

6. Jacket material. Power cords are vulnerable to a variety of external factors if they aren’t properly protected by a jacket. When determining the best jacket material, consider voltage, flexibility, and any certification and building requirements, which may differ by country, local municipality and building codes. These factors can dictate specific cords required for distinct purposes. 

7. Know all the angles. Using the appropriate angle for your power cords can help reduce the risk of disconnect, as well as improve air flow to servers. The correct angle can also alleviate strain on the cord, reduce the risk of harmful EMI from occurring, and deliver high performance in terms of server speed and durability. When space is limited, a tight entry for your connections decreases the probability of disconnects and improves air flow. Angled options can also help with routing cable, as well as facilitate tidy connections with limited slack.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that any power cord will do. Choosing the correct model for your particular environment will not only help untangle potential problems, but will result in optimal energy efficiency, uptime and other advantages.

At StayOnline, we can help you select the power cords that best suit your infrastructure. You can choose from our large inventory of stocked products or we can make custom cords right here out of our U.S. manufacturing facility. Get in touch today!