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Can Cabling Really Contribute to Greening Your Data Center?

by on August 9, 2010

Discussions about greening data centers typically focus on cooling systems and managing the power requirements of servers. Often left out of those planning sessions is the role cabling can play in contributing to making a data center more environmentally friendly. Choosing the right cabling for a data center can reduce power and cooling costs, as well as shrink the capital expenditure cost of a facility over time and provide a bump to the bottom line when the cables are recycled.

Green_computer_cable “For both power and data cables, going green in the beginning is about physically maximizing airflow and air space, as well as getting the most robust cabling you can with the longest possible life cycle,” writes Bridget Mintz Testa at

“As for recycling, don’t just think copper,” she adds. “It’s possible to do a lot more.”

Just as proper air flow is important in managing the heat produced by a data center’s hardware, it’s also important in planning cable layouts. In centers with hot and cold aisles, for instance, cabling should be placed precisely in the hot aisles without excess cable coiled up in the aisle. Low-voltage overhead cabling should be placed with high-voltage cabling under the floor. However, the air flow in the space must be appropriate for both kinds of cabling.

Sometimes simple adjustments in cabling can translate into significant savings for a center. Switching to four-gauge from two-gauge cable, for instance, can save $51 a year per 100-foot run to a high-density server cabinet. Multiply that by 100 cabinets, and that’s a savings of $5000 a year.

That boost in cable gauge can save energy, too, by reducing the power consumed by your servers. Four server cabinets operating at full capacity, for instance, would consume 1500 watts per hour less with four-gauge cable than with two-gauge.

“Don’t let your cabling grow organically,” Brian Duval, global marketing communications manager for Siemon told Testa. “That’s when things get out of hand with airflow and having more cabling than you need.”

“If you don’t know what you have, you use power assets inefficiently,” he adds. “The more efficiently you can use your assets and your capacity without redundancy and waste, the more green you are and the more effective you are from the business point of view.”

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