Ben Hatton How Data Centers do Surge Protection

April 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Now that winter has finally ended, we find ourselves jumping right into the storm season in Indiana. For our area, that means lots of rain, thunderstorms, and (hopefully not many) tornadoes. While tornadoes are always the natural disaster we fear the most here, lightning strikes are something that people often overlook or think less of, due to the misconception that they don’t happen as often (to see how horrifyingly wrong this misconception is, check out this Weather.com article). All it takes is one lightning strike to start a fire, hurt or kill someone, or fry electronic equipment. This makes lightning surge protection a very big deal for data centers like us. Lightning strike

In this post I’m going to cover some of the key surge protection measures we have in place at Data Cave to protect our building and our clients’ critical IT equipment from electricity spikes caused by lightning. Even if a lightning strike in our immediate vicinity may be rare, it is still one of many natural disasters that we are prepared to handle. Here is how we do it!

Getting grounded in TVSS

You may not be familiar with the term TVSS, but you most likely already know what it does. TVSS, or transient voltage surge suppression, is essentially any type of device that suppresses electricity spikes in order to protect the equipment it is connected to. Everything from the surge protector that you have your computer connected to, to the PDU’s that feed power into our data suites, accomplishes this same objective, and are all forms of TVSS.

TVSS devices sit between the feed of incoming power, and the equipment that they are “protecting.” They work by continually monitoring the voltage of the incoming electricity feed, and when they detect a surge in electricity, they “clamp” down on the voltage line coming in, diverting the power surge and preventing it from reaching the connected equipment.

Our process at Data Cave

While using any level of surge protection is smart, at Data Cave we have 3 separate levels of protection in place. This allows us to target the incoming power at multiple points as it enters our facility and feeds colocated equipment in our data suites.

  1. Switchgear: Our switchgear equipment has TVSS support built in, allowing it to divert power surges as soon as they enter the facility.
  2. Flywheels: Between the switchgear and our data suite PDU’s, the incoming power feed goes through our UPS flywheel units. As this happens, the power goes through a “rectification” process, where the AC power is converted to DC, and then back to AC again. This rectification process essentially “levels” the incoming power as it comes through, balancing out any surges in power that may have made it past the switchgear (the likelihood of that ever happening is very low).
  3. Data suite PDU’s: The final form of surge protection is in the PDU’s (power distribution units) that feed power into each of our data suites. Like our switchgear, these units also have built-in TVSS, allowing them to automatically divert away any power surges that may make it all the way to the data suites in the building. Fortunately, the likelihood of this even occurring in the first place is incredibly small, thanks to the other levels of surge protection we have in place.

As with every other aspect of our data center, we have strived to make sure our power surge protection is as redundant as possible, with multiple layers of protection. This redundancy helps us to completely minimize the potential impact to our clients’ colocated IT equipment, as well as our building, from lightning strikes. As we begin to enter another rainy and windy Indiana storm season, we are fully confident that we are prepared to handle lightning, and anything else Mother Nature can throw at us!

If you would like to learn more about our surge protection measures, or any of the other provisions and safeguards against the forces of nature that we have in place, Contact us today! We would love to hear from you and discuss things further.

 

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