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How do I choose a data center generator?

Expert Brien Posey reveals the most important factors to consider when evaluating a data center generator for disaster preparedness.

Generators for data centers come in all shapes and sizes, and can vary significantly with regard to intended purpose,...

output wattage and required fuel.

The first step to take when selecting a data center generator is to calculate the number of watts currently consumed within your environment. If your data center has a separate electric meter, this will make things easier. Otherwise, you may have to install power metering equipment or extract data from battery backups to determine the power consumption level.

It is important to realize that there is often a significant difference between advertised output and what the data center generator can realistically deliver. Manufacturers will frequently advertise generator wattage according to peak output; however, the wattage supplied on a continuous basis is often significantly lower. For example, a 4,000-watt generator may only be able to supply approximately 3,200 watts on a continuous basis.

It is important to realize that there is often a significant difference between advertised output and what the data center generator can realistically deliver.

Fuel consumption rate is another important factor, as it may not reflect what you will experience if you use the data center generator under a heavy load. For example, a generator that claims to run for eight hours on a tank of gas might only achieve that level of performance if it operates at half of its peak power output capacity.

Once you have evaluated all these factors, it is sometimes much more economical to purchase several small data center generators rather than one large generator.

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This was last published in April 2015

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