If you’re looking to buy a Power Distribution Unit (PDU) for your rack installation and need help deciding exactly what you need, here’s a few tips to consider:

1. PDUs address a broad range of power requirements. It may seem obvious, but defining your power requirements is the first step in choosing the right PDU. Are you powering a major data center with hundreds of server racks running mission-critical applications? Does the environment also include blades—or, as is happening in some cases, are the blades replacing traditional rack servers? In a large-scale data center or blade deployment, for example, you might require a 3-phase PDU. If you are powering a related wiring closet or a branch office or smaller data center, you would typically be looking at PDUs with single-phase inputs. Your needs will change depending upon a variety of factors, and you may be deploying a range of PDUs with different features to address various requirements within your organization.

2. Varied features on PDUs can help you address different power challenges. If you look at the product offerings of a leading vendor such as Tripp Lite, you will find dozens of different PDU models offering a wide range of features. Fundamentally, however, PDUs are available in four categories: basic, metered, monitored and switched. A basic PDU is what the name implies: a PDU that is used to distribute power without any frills. A metered PDU is a step up from a basic PDU in that it adds a visual meter so you can see when the PDU might be on the verge of overloading. A monitored PDU adds a built-in network interface that will remotely report on the power consumed by the connected equipment. A switched PDU adds the ability to control individual outlets so you can remotely reboot your equipment without having to physically go to the site.