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  1. #1
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    * Data center billing practices

    The datacenter where I have my servers charges me $320.00/month for each 120v/20 amps circuit to my cabinets. Lately I found out that even though I am charegd for 20 amps I can only use 16 amps. (80% capacity).
    My question is, why are they charging me fro 20 if i can only use 16 ? why don't they charge me for 16 amps instead of 20 amps ?
    I am interested in hearing what other datacenter billing pracices are across the country.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Thats pretty standard. You are most likely on a 20 amp breaker and using 80% is based on the idea that if you power all the servers on at once they will spike above your average 16 amps. If you load to say 19Amps and then power goes out and they all come on your will just trip the circuit
    Russ Foster - Industry Curmudgeon

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    As other people have mentioned, it's code - you're paying for a 20A circuit, but electrical codes state you can only use 16A of that. It's good policy anyways - if you were at 19A, and had an inrush when restarting a system, the breaker would flip, and you would not be happy.

  5. #5
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    On a side note - in some environments, you can negotiate to be billed based on actual power usage. But you need a lot more than one rack to get that.

  6. #6
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    If you pay on actual usage, they will just charge more per A. It will end up being the same.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyb View Post
    My question is, why are they charging me fro 20 if i can only use 16 ? why don't they charge me for 16 amps instead of 20 amps ?
    Remember: They must still deliver you the full 20 amps for you to use 16. Amperage is a FIXED item, both is what can be delivered per circuit, and what they have in totality. You can use 100% of the circuit, but you will cause it to fail if you do. These are laws of both physics and of electrical code.

    This situation is the same everywhere, so shopping it around to other facilities will not change your situation.

    Regards,
    --chuck goolsbee, Prineville, Oregon, USA
    Please note: I no longer work for digital.forest in Seattle, WA, as I left them in early 2010 to pursue an amazing opportunity at an amazing datacenter project elsewhere... I do not speak for digital.forest here. However I still know they provide the best colocation in the Pacific Northwest.

  8. #8
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    The confusion is "why am I charged for 20amps when I can only use 16?"

    This is one of those areas where customers don't really know what they're buying and assume things based on what they think they ought to have.

    Our contracts state that you are paying for a 20amp circuit. 20amp circuits can provide a load of 80%, or 16 amps. You're not paying for 20 amps of power, you're paying for a 20amp circuit.

    it's like buying an 80GB hard drive that formats out to 73GB.
    Aaron Wendel
    Wholesale Internet, Inc. - http://www.wholesaleinternet.net
    Kansas City Internet eXchange - http://www.kcix.net

  9. #9
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    WII Aaron, calm down, I am not confused and I know what I am paying for, I simply wanted to knwo if this is standard practice... that's all...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyb View Post
    WII Aaron, calm down, I am not confused and I know what I am paying for, I simply wanted to knwo if this is standard practice... that's all...
    Why does he need to calm down, he doesn't seem excited.
    From your first post
    My question is, why are they charging me fro 20 if i can only use 16 ? why don't they charge me for 16 amps instead of 20 amps ?
    These two questions make it seem as if you are confused as to what your are actually paying for.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyb View Post
    The datacenter where I have my servers charges me $320.00/month for each 120v/20 amps circuit to my cabinets. Lately I found out that even though I am charegd for 20 amps I can only use 16 amps. (80% capacity).
    My question is, why are they charging me fro 20 if i can only use 16 ? why don't they charge me for 16 amps instead of 20 amps ?
    I am interested in hearing what other datacenter billing pracices are across the country.

    Thanks
    You are being charged for a 20 amp circuit. A 20 amp circuit can only support 16 amps of continuous load; this is mandated by the NEC. They require breakers to be sized at 125% of their continuous load. It is very likely that you have many times exceeded 16 amps utilization, but in a non-continuous manner (server reboots, fans kick on, etc). Thus, you can use the entire 20 amps, but only for non-continuous purposes.

    If you are using 16 amps continuous load, you are power will spike to 17-19 amps during peak hours, server reboots, etc. From a practical perspective, if you had a continuous load that was equal to your breaker size, any time you needed a little extra juice you would trip your breaker, taking all of your equipment offline.
    Jay Sudowski // Handy Networks LLC // Co-Founder & CTO
    AS30475 - Level(3), HE, Telia, XO and Cogent. Noction optimized network.
    Offering Dedicated Server and Colocation Hosting from our SSAE 16 SOC 2, Type 2 Certified Data Center.
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  12. #12
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    Not true

    Quote Originally Posted by Mfjp View Post
    If you pay on actual usage, they will just charge more per A. It will end up being the same.
    I do not agree with this statement. If you use metered power it depends on what they charge per kWh which is really the bottom line. If you use only 10 Amps of a 20 Amp circuit (or 16 Amp circuit... ahem), you'd probably find this to be a no brainer. Even at full utilization of your 20 amp circuit metered power can still be and is less at some places. What are you drawing on a 120V or 208 V circuit? Check around, not all colo operates the same

  13. #13
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    The "bottom line" is well above and beyond your per kWh rates if you are a facility operator. PDUs, UPSs, Generators, transfer switches are not free, and nor do electricians work for free. And on top of what your servers pull, you have to power your CRAC units ...
    Jay Sudowski // Handy Networks LLC // Co-Founder & CTO
    AS30475 - Level(3), HE, Telia, XO and Cogent. Noction optimized network.
    Offering Dedicated Server and Colocation Hosting from our SSAE 16 SOC 2, Type 2 Certified Data Center.
    Current specials here. Check them out.

  14. #14
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    Seattle, Washington
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    My apologies

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Suds View Post
    The "bottom line" is well above and beyond your per kWh rates if you are a facility operator. PDUs, UPSs, Generators, transfer switches are not free, and nor do electricians work for free. And on top of what your servers pull, you have to power your CRAC units ...
    Ask the risk of repeating myself, not true.
    1. A facilities price points can be emphasized around whatever features it chooses.
    2. Market share growth strategies can involve power pricing that dips into your perceived "bottom line".
    3. And I'm sorry for this, but what kind of relevancy argument are you highlighting in the above quote? Are we to assume that because you've correctly identified the components in calculating metered cost (a variable expense); That the sum of these components must be greater than a per circuit charge (a fixed customer expense). I shudder if people buy that.

  15. #15
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    Feb 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Suds View Post
    The "bottom line" is well above and beyond your per kWh rates if you are a facility operator. PDUs, UPSs, Generators, transfer switches are not free, and nor do electricians work for free.
    This is a great reason why to avoid datacenters in Union buildings. Buildings who are in bad union contracts can have absorbant costs around their power infrastructure between costs for installation, and extorted staffing levels.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyb View Post
    WII Aaron, calm down, I am not confused and I know what I am paying for, I simply wanted to knwo if this is standard practice... that's all...
    Its pretty standard.

    If it makes you feel any better, chances are your provider is loosing > 20% of their power due to conditioning, before it even gets to you (downstep transformers, UPS's, wiring, phases not perfectly balanced, etc.)

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