Data centers, especially hyperscale data centers, are power-hungry monsters with an insatiable appetite for electricity. In fact, after buying the land, constructing the building, installing all the racks and servers, and staffing it, the number one operating expense for any data center is utility power. Their carbon footprint is as big, if not bigger, than many manufacturing operations.
If a data center experiences an interruption of power, their customers experience a disruption in service. It’s that simple. To protect against any outages, most data centers are designed with redundant connections to their utility or to multiple substations to maintain an “always on” link to the power grid. In the event of a large disaster that knocks the utility offline, many data centers are equipped with on-premises fossil fuel back-up generators to keep operations going in the aftermath of a hurricane, flood, or fire.
Many data centers are going to the next level. They are taking additional steps to reduce their dependence on utilities, lower operating expenses, and minimize fossil fuel use through renewable energy and batteries to store the energy. More than another back-up strategy, solar arrays can generate hundreds of kilowatts daily to lower their energy bills. They are being installed on unoccupied fields adjacent to data centers, on top of covered parking structures, and on rooftops. This last option is becoming particularly popular as today’s data centers are massive. Their flat roofs spanning acres in size are perfectly suited for large solar arrays and make good use of the real estate.
For years, Snake Tray has been a trusted source providing data center cable trays with products like the under floor Snake Canyon, the 101 Series, 201 Series and 454 Series hand-bendable trays, and the heavy duty 801 Series Mega Snake basket tray with pre-configured turns and crosses. Now data centers are turning to Snake Tray cable management solutions to get renewable energy from outside the building linked to their internal power supply and/or inverters for battery storage. Virtually every new data center is being designed with integrated rooftop solar, and many existing data centers are retrofitting their buildings or properties to add solar to reduce their carbon footprint.
Whether the solar array is in an adjacent field or on a rooftop, the most efficient way to transport the wattage produced by solar panels is through “free air” cable installation. And the most cost-effective means to accomplish that is through Snake Tray’s Solar Snake Max™.
Burying bundled cables underground or encapsulating them in conduit causes heat buildup. That means data centers must account for derate, the percentage reduction in cable wattage capacity required to offset heat buildup. The derate factor can be 50% or higher when running 10 or more buried cables in parallel. To compensate, engineers will often call for thicker cables to maximize energy throughput, but this only inflates cost without increasing capacity. Not to mention the time and cost of trenching and subsequently repairing buried cables.
In response, Snake Tray invented a completely safe method for commercial and industrial grade solar cable conveyance that does not require trenching, speeds installation, and realizes significant cost savings in labor and materials. Rather than splay cables across a five- or six-foot wide ladder adjacent to the array, Snake Tray’s patented Solar Snake Max system holds up to 36 750 Kcmil cables in a stacked, separated, yet totally supported space occupying less than two feet square. Solar Snake Max is an above ground (aka “free air”) cable management apparatus that uses brackets mounted to vertical pilings in the earth or attached to a rooftop. Specialized suspended insulated separators meet NEC requirements for individual cable spacing for the entire length of a run. This allows the heat of electrical friction to dissipate into the surrounding air, maintaining the maximum possible energy harvesting from the array into the data center.
As a result, free air installation greatly reduces or completely eliminates derate, which can reduce cable load requirements by 25% to 40% over an entire project. Imagine the savings data centers can achieve by using 250 Kcmil cables in free air space to convey the same power of 500 Kcmil buried cables without digging! This is the value of the Solar Snake Max system, and why data centers are turning to Snake Tray for cable management solutions like data center cable trays to reduce their carbon footprint both inside and outside the structure.
Snake Tray has revolutionized the data and power distribution market with cable management, power distribution systems and enclosures all designed to install quickly, reduce labor and material costs, and significantly drive down the total cost of construction. If you would like to learn more, visit us at snaketray.com. Our engineers and sales teams stand ready to help execute your next cabling project with maximum efficiency and profitability.