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Portable Power Distribution

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04/20/2015 | Portable Power Distribution Equipment Basics

This 600A PDU offers both forklift pockets and wheels.Power distribution units (PDUs), specially designed equipment used to transfer and distribute power from a generator or other power supply to other electrical devices, have become increasingly valuable in the past decade. These portable power systems afford companies maximum flexibility in the use of their power source, enabling firms to transfer power across greater distances and bring it to a wide array of equipment (with the help of appropriate cables).

As the need for power distribution equipment has increased, the selection of units has expanded, with highly versatile PDUs of up to 1200 amps now available. Some firms, including HIPOWER SYSTEMS, manufacturer a wide range of PDUs are portable, as well—giving companies a portable power supply that can be rolled via casters or wheels and/or transported by forklift or wench.

These units can be expensive, so a secondary market has sprung up in the rental industry, with firms in a wide variety of disciplines, from plant turnaround specialists to catering and entertainment vendors, renting power distribution units as an element of the portable power source for their jobs.

All portable PDUs are not created equal, and both rental companies and rental customers should clearly define their requirements before selection. Current models offer an extraordinary number of options—many that the average rental customer might not even know are available. Project electricians are helpful in selecting the overall power rating and capacity of a portable PDU, but even they may not think to suggest some of the auxiliary options that a customer might find beneficial.

Following are some of the questions that will help a PPD customer choose the right unit.

  • What is the anticipated total power load the PPD unit will support?
  • What type of equipment will the PPD unit be powering, and at what voltages? Heavy equipment, special events equipment, and consumer devices (such as mobile phones and laptops) all have specific needs.
  • What are the voltages needed for the project? Does power need to be stepped down or up to a lower or higher voltage than the primary feed?
  • Will the primary power feed be three-phase or single-phase? Units are available that can handle both, and even switch from one to the other.
  • How many and what type of outlets are required? Examples of specifications include C19, C13, and NEMA 5-20R. (Note that with outlets, it’s helpful to both specify the minimum requirements but also have a “wish list” of desired but not required items to help with final selection.)

In this article, we are only scratching the surface of portable PDU selection. In the future, we’ll delve more deeply into the specific types of PDUs, as well as equipment-specific selection criteria. To speak with an expert technician about your needs, please call 913-495-5557. You can also browse our selection of power distribution equipment or review our 2014 article on power distribution unit basics. While you at our site, sign up for myHIPOWER to gain access to extended site benefits and more.

 

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