Power Distributions Units

A power distribution unit (PDU) is a device for controlling electrical power in a data center. They are designed to provide standard electrical outlets for data center equipment and have no monitoring or remote access capabilities. More advanced PDUs provide real-time monitoring and remote access capabilities.

By monitoring power usage and controlling power distribution, the PDU can help identify areas where energy is wasted and implement measures to reduce energy consumption. Remote monitoring and control: Many modern PDUs also offer remote monitoring and control capabilities.


PDUs manage and distribute electricity and are normally installed directly onto a rack. The power source could be alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). It can come from an uninterruptible power supply, a utility power supplier, or a generator or other secondary power source. PDUs are also designed for power requirements that are typically much larger than home or office power strips and surge protectors.


What do PDUs do?

PDUs do essentially the same job as power strips: They supply power to multiple items at once. Data centers and other industrial environments cannot plug all their devices into one power supply. There are just too many of them. Instead, PDUs distribute power to multiple devices, including servers, computers, networking and storage devices, and telecommunications equipment.

One PDU typically can provide power for up to eight devices simultaneously. PDUs can be mounted in equipment rack enclosures to supply power to rack mountable IT equipment, such as servers, switches and routers.

What are the different types of PDUs?

Power distribution units come in rackmount, floor-mounted, cabinet and portable form factors:

  • Rackmount PDUs mount directly to an equipment rack. They can control and monitor power to specific servers, switches and other data center devices and assist in balancing power loads.
  • Floor-mounted PDUs provide an alternative to a facility’s primary power source and data center equipment racks.
  • Cabinet PDUs are units that have main and individual circuit breakers and power-monitoring electrical panels. These are used when an organization needs to provide power for multiple racks with multiple high-current
  • Portable PDUs are portable, nonmounted devices meant for consumer use in homes and offices.

    Basic power distribution units

    Basic units only provide power distribution. The following two types are considered basic PDUs:

  • Basic PDU. This is a power strip that distributes voltage and current to multiple outlets.
  • Monitored PDU. This is a basic PDU that also displays electrical data.

ntelligent power distribution units

Intelligent PDUs provide power distribution and other features, such as power metering, monitoring, remote outlet switching, remote outlet control and notifications of potential issues. Types of intelligent PDUs include the following:

  • Metered inlet PDU. These metered PDUs determine power usage and available capacity of circuits, which makes it easier for equipment provisioning. They also help in calculating efficiency metrics and avoiding overloading a circuit.
  • Metered outlet PDU. Metering done at the outlet helps users in determining both power usage and rack availability. This type of PDU enables users to make comparisons to determine if a device is energy-efficient.
  • Switched PDU. These PDUs have the same features as metered inlet PDUs, but they also give users control over individual outlets and groups of outlets. The outlets can power devices remotely. And switched PDUs enable users to turn off devices when not in use, saving power.
  • Switched rack PDU with outlet metering. A switched rack power distribution unit has the same features as a switched PDU with outlet metering.

    Basic PDUs are ideal for simpler IT setups. However, an organization with a more complex environment likely needs intelligent PDUs.