By Michael Ruhe, Product Manager of Mitsubishi UPSD
In part one of this series, we discussed the advantages of using containerized data center designs for edge applications. And while determining the overall implementation of your edge data center is important, choosing what kind of equipment goes inside is just as important.
There are some common concerns when approaching a containerized design versus a traditional stick build that need to be taken into consideration, such as footprint, weight, and ease of install. One critical piece of equipment that influences all these considerations is the DC source (batteries) used for the uninterruptible power supplies required for back-up and power quality.
Traditionally, these DC sources have been in the form of Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries, and while they are tried-and-true, there are draw backs to using them in a containerized design. These draw backs include the weight, power density, and lifetime of the batteries, which, unfortunately, are inherent to the design. However, these draw backs can be combated with newer technologies and chemistries available on the market.
Alternative chemistry batteries, such as lithium-ion or nickel-zinc are leading the way because of their extended lifespans, increased power density, and smaller footprints compared to traditional VRLA offerings.
And, while hyperscale and cloud providers are already leading the way with these alternative DC sources in traditional data centers, not everyone may be familiar with the advantages they provide and how they would apply to an edge deployment.
Let’s break down the advantages of alternate chemistries versus VRLA in containerized solutions for the edge:
Lithium-ion batteries possess a 40-60% smaller footprint, which is imperative in a modular design. Simply needing two more cabinets of VRLA batteries over an alternative could result in needing a container that is 10 feet longer.
Larger container = more cooling, etc. = higher cost
Possessing only 60% of the weight of comparable VRLA makes lithium ion batteries easier to transport. Ultimately, this provides both flexibility and cost savings when shipping and installing.
Not to mention, many alternative chemistry solutions are now designed with enhanced transportability by pre-populating the modules within the cabinets themselves. Shipping pre-populated will also reduce installation time by nearly 60%.
VRLA options will require replacement every 3-5 years whereas, with other chemistries, lifespan can be instantly increased to 15-to-25-years (depending on what is selected) before reaching end of life (60% capacity). This drastically reduces the ongoing operating costs ensuring a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
It should be noted that maintenance is significantly reduced as well, as lithium ion battery backups only needs one preventative maintenance visit per year. To further reduce the maintenance needs of the batteries, these alternative solutions typically include an integrated battery management/monitoring system (BMS), which provides real-time data and trending, as well as safety monitoring.
All the above attributes are critical when applied to the edge because of the very real fact that these data centers can be in remote locations where a technician is either not on site or an extended distance away.
As one can see, the use of alternative chemistry batteries in edge data centers offers a whole host of advantages over what has traditionally been used as a source of back-up power. This is just one small – but critical – piece of the puzzle when it comes to edge data center equipment.
In the third and final part of this series, we’ll discuss a key point those involved in edge data centers must consider: the future of remote monitoring, control, and automation in an edge data center.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our Data Movers Podcast with Mitsubishi UPSD’s Jim Hughes as he talks Green Technology, The Age of Resignation, Edge Data and more!