In our last installment, we explored the plethora of benefits afforded by power monitoring and management. Yet one of the most advantageous overall aspects is the software’s sheer flexibility, with its ability to be deployed in both the simplest and most complex environments. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, the level of desired visibility may range from very basic (ensuring incoming utility power is continuously clean) to extremely granular. The amount of information you gain largely depends on where monitoring is activated within your infrastructure. Consider six of the most common points:
1. Where utility power enters the building. By installing a power meter on low- or medium-voltage switchgear that brings utility power into the building, you can tap into measurements of voltage current and frequency, ultimately enabling calculation of watts or kVA.
2. Where facilities systems support critical solutions. Meters enable monitoring of large power-consuming systems such as air conditioners and chillers. Other devices such as gateways can gather data and transmit information about the operating environment of ancillary equipment such as security cameras, door sensors and fire detection/suppression.
3. Where power enters critical equipment. Data centers and enterprise operations are obviously prime candidates for monitoring mission-critical equipment. Most larger, centralized UPS solutions that are deployed in these facilities deliver information regarding voltages, load, battery status and other vital conditions. In addition, by implementing an environmental monitoring probe, users can keep a constant pulse on parameters such as temperature, humidity, vibration, smoke or intrusion.
4. At the primary panel board or subfeed breaker. Branch circuit monitoring is a proactive measure that can effectively deter impending trouble by continuously measuring the current on branch circuits. In addition to supervising panel boards, some solutions monitor distribution equipment such as power distribution units (PDUs) or remote power panels (RPPs).
5. At various power distribution points. Many facilities managers opt to install freestanding or wall-mounted RPPs that offer the same type of branch circuit monitoring as the main panel boards. In this manner, current transformers on every branch circuit, subfeed and main breaker report power conditions to a universal controller and/or building management or power management system.
6. Within enclosures. There are a number of different power protection options to monitor various rack conditions that could lead to overload conditions and circuit tripping. Some devices also facilitate metering capabilities to support power use charge-backs to customers. Rackmount UPSs, rack power modules (RPMs) and enclosure-based PDUs are primary options.
While each organization must balance its monitoring configuration based on individual need and cost, oftentimes you just can’t put a price tag on the value of information communicated through power monitoring. In our next installment, we will examine some of the key areas of detail that can be gathered through these solutions and exactly how it is communicated. In the meantime, let us know if you have a specific question about power monitoring and management by typing it below.