Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 Data CentreMichel Chartier, P. Eng. ATD 

Over the years, the power consumption of data centers have grown steadily to the point where now, a small data center consumes enough energy to power 50 homes during cold winter periods, close to 1000kW.

These data centers are for the most part needed in the world today and their energy consumption will continue to increase, either by an addition in the number of rooms or through the growth of production capacity for existing rooms.

A market survey we conducted indicates that this growth will generate the equivalent of six million square feet of facilities within the next three years in Canada alone!  Considering a reasonable average of 100W per square feet of power consumption for servers only, we get a total load of 600,000kW.  Adding the associated cooling requirements, this charge surpasses 1,000,000kW (or 1,000MW).

Considering that Quebec produces 40,000MW of total power, in light of this predicted growth, it is natural to ask: Is it possible to save energy in a data center?

To effectively answer this question, we must first understand how this energy is distributed within a data center.

The energy consumption of data centers is divided into two broad categories, the energy required to run the servers and other IT equipment that are installed directly inside of the computer room, and the energy required to cool the room in order to maintain sustainable operations for servers.

In general, the energy required for servers represents two thirds of the overall power consumption, and the remaining one third is required for air conditioning. These are the two important energy drivers that must be targeted in efforts to save energy.

Energy Saving Electricity

Except for the logical choice of purchasing servers certified by EnergyStar, we have little control over what servers consume energy and their efficiency. However, some of the choices in electrical infrastructure equipment can improve the overall power consumption.

This is the case of the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) which displays efficiency between 94% and 97% with a load from 25% to 100% of the capacity of the device.  They are therefore a logical choice when buying or writing specifications for late submission.

In addition to its efficiency, it is becoming increasingly common to power devices in a computer room on a three-phase 240V/415V voltage as they do in Europe, without the internal transformer. A growing number of UPS system manufacturers are producing 240V/415V for the North American market.

This alternative is particularly interesting when the input power of a data center is using medium voltage (13 to 25kV). It allows the designer to lower the voltage to any usable voltage. Usually, this would be 240-415V three phases, 4 wires for the IT distribution and 480 or 600V for the mechanical feeds.

The advantage of using this voltage level is that 99.9% of servers or equipment existing for over 5 years operate on a supply voltage between 100 and 240V, without having to do anything about it.

This method of feeding the power supply at 240V is very interesting since the servers are more efficient at 240V than 120V. Typically, the power supply of a server has an efficiency of 93% at 120V and 94% to 95% at 240V.

In addition, this power method eliminates all of the output transformers of the UPS that were previously required to lower the voltage at 120V/208V. Given that transformers have a loss of about 3%, there is significant power savings in large computer rooms. It should also be taken into account that much of these transformers are located in the computer room and that those losses of 3% and an additional 1% on power supplies increase the need for air conditioning.

For calculation purposes and to demonstrate the impact, consider an IT load of 1000kW.  In the standard installation, the computer room would have 40kW of heat loss more than an installation at 240V/415V, which is enough to heat two average sized houses during the winter.

This 40kW will require a cooling capacity equivalent to an additional 11.4 tonnes. The need for additional cooling will effectively have an impact on the increase in energy consumption. In our scenario the 11.4 tonnes will consume 11kW which will be added to the 40kW of losses mentioned above, for a total of 55kW. Over the 1000kW of IT load, this 55kW represents an increase of 5.5% in energy cost. Over a year, at 8¢/kWh, it translate to 39k$ more to operate. 

We can therefore see that the choice of UPS and power supply method can play a role in saving energy. This conservation in electricity applies much more in new data centers as opposed to existing centers.

For existing facilities, a major source of electrical inefficiency is unquestionably the non-replacement and/or removal of old unused equipment which are always connected!  A good practice is to perform an annual inventory of equipment and to determine which can be switched off and removed from the room. 

An understandable energy saving strategy is to try not to consume energy when it is not required.

Next month in Part 2: Energy Savings in Mechanical Operations. 

Michel Chartier is Quebec’s leading consultant for the design of Mission Critical Centres. He was the first Engineer in Quebec to receive Uptime’s Institute accredited Tier Designer certification. His professionalism and the originality of the solutions he presents have earned him a solid reputation with large-scale clients. UPS representatives consult him when they need expert advice for their special projects. He has visited hundreds of sites, always taking into consideration the technology used by clients to evaluate their current and future needs. Animated by passion and curiosity, he keeps up with technology and new developments in his areas of expertise.

Also, be sure to check out Kelvin Emtech here, visit them on LinkedIn or Google+ here



CEW market research 400By John Kerr

The past nine weeks have been to say the least a challenge across the electrical industry. From agents to suppliers, from end users to the electrical channel, all have been affected, all have been forced to think differently and all have begun the journey to retooling the way we operate.

This is the third report in our series quantifying and exploring how electrical wholesalers have had to adapt and how they are looking to find a way forward. For this we have taken a different approach from our previous reports in that we have incorporated the results from our recent survey alongside personal interviews and discussions with electrical distributor teams across Canada

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arkest Before the Dawn, Part 2

CEW 9 JK Figure 1 700By John Kerr

I spoke in my previous article about my father’s quote darkest before the dawn. Well, he had another saying clearly brought forward by his growing up in the depression. He would say, “Money is not everything. It just helps,” and at a time like this when there are so many storylines of effort above and beyond the call, and so many initiatives underway by electrical distributors, there will be a rallying right across the country. The electrical distributors are moving, reacting, and more adaptable than ever before. 

The current situation we find ourselves in is to say the least fluid, dynamic and somewhat disconcerting for many, but underlying it is a focused, disciplined approach to addressing the new norm and new reality. Some branches remain closed, some open with minimal staff, and others rotating staff and working differently than ever before.

Recent public reports by Wesco and Rexel have indicated drops approaching 23% through mid April and clearly ones that demonstrated a slowdown from mid March. Our discussions with both distributors and end users/contractors alike confirm their buying and purchasing activity were curtailed more aggressively in early April.

Over 106 electrical distributors responded to our recent survey with 73% from corporate and branch management. 

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Gurvinder ChopraBy Gurvinder Chopra

This June, Canadians will commemorate Electrical Safety Month; June also marks the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown. For many Canadians, working from home has become the new normal. As confinement continues, the demand for constant power feed to connect to the world we now live, work, and play in at home has grown substantially. Homes are being equipped with new technologies that offer plenty of benefits, but they also place high demand on electrical systems at home, potentially causing serious safety risks. 

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David GordonBy David Gordon

In talking with distributors and manufacturers it is clear that many are actively in the planning and pivoting mode, moving from survivability to thriveability. They’ve stabilized their business financially, emotionally (from a staff viewpoint) and operationally. Now they are looking at “doing business,” and more financially secure ones are identifying ways to take share.

This doesn’t mean that others are not planning and pivoting. Some didn’t miss a beat; others typically don’t do much planning and live in the moment. 

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Building Permits - MarchThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 13.2% to $7.4 billion in March, with declines reported in seven provinces and two territories. The $1.1 billion national decrease was the largest since August 2014. This reflected notable drops in Ontario (-12.9%), Quebec (-18.1%) and British Columbia (-19.4%), which coincided with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Value of residential permits down

The total value of residential permits decreased 13.1% to $4.6 billion in March.

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Changing Scene

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EIN evolve 400As we continue to respond to the changing status with the COVID-19 outbreak, EFC is taking preventative measures to protect conference delegates from any further risks associated with this virus. After much consideration and consultation, the EFC Board has decided to cancel EFC’s Industry Conference in Banff which was rescheduled from late May to September 1 - 3, 2020. This decision was difficult but necessary for the safety of our members, employees, and the community.

One of EFC's key mandates, is to deliver a premier national thought-leadership conference for industry members, partners, and affiliates. 

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Among new solutions introduced by Sonepar: customers can now create an online account through a simple text message. Traffic on Sonepar’s website has tripled since the pandemic began, and the number of new accounts has doubled. Many Sonepar locations also feature curbside pick-up.

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Schneider ElectricThe Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Hugo Lafontaine, Vice-President Digital Energy at Schneider Electric Canada. CABA is an international nonprofit industry association that provides information, education and networking to help promote advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings.

“We are delighted to welcome Hugo Lafontaine to CABA's Board,” said Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO “He brings a stellar background in building systems integration and the building automation market, and a wealth of insight into the digital platforms and solutions that will define smart-building innovations now and into the future.”

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Harold HayesHarold Hayes, a stalwart of the electrical industry, passed away peacefully in Scarborough, Ontario at the age of 90 on May 9, 2020.

Harold joined the industry as an apprentice at age 18, working first for his father’s business, Power Cable Installations, and then for Comstock. Among his later accomplishments, he formed Federal Pioneer Electric’s electric heating division, served as president of the Ontario Electric League in 1985, and while in his 80s consulted for Intellimeter Canada Inc.



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Sarah SilversteinBlake Marchand

Sarah Silverstein is a principal with Liteline along side her two brothers Mark and Daniel. Together, they lead the company founded by their father, Steve Silverstein, who retired in 2018.

Although she initially pursued a career in outdoor education, Sarah was instrumental in the company’s expansion into architectural lighting and the U.S. market. She joined Liteline as a project manager in between stints working in outdoor education. Now she leads Liteline’s U.S. distribution arm and marketing department.


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