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A temporary PDU, distributing 120 volt AC power at an outdoor event

A power distribution unit (PDU) or mains distribution unit (MDU) is a device fitted with multiple outputs designed to distribute electric power, especially to racks of computers and networking equipment located within a data center.[1] Data centers face challenges in power protection and management solutions. This is why many data centers rely on PDU monitoring to improve efficiency, uptime, and growth.[2]


Form factorsEdit

Rack mountEdit

A 10-outlet rack-mount PDU (front), connected to a UPS (bottom unit on right)

PDUs vary from simple and inexpensive rack-mounted power strips to larger floor-mounted PDUs with multiple functions including power filtering to improve power quality, intelligent load balancing, and remote monitoring and control by LAN or SNMP.[1] This kind of PDU placement offers intelligent capabilities such as power metering at the inlet, outlet, and PDU branch circuit level[3]and support for environment sensors.[4]

Newer generation of intelligent PDUs allow for IP consolidation, which means many PDUs can be linked in an array under a single IP address. Next-generation models also offer integration with electronic locks, providing the ability to network and manage PDUs and locks through the same appliance.[5]

Cabinet PDU with access doors open


In data centers, larger PDUs are needed to power multiple server cabinets. Each server cabinet or row of cabinets may require multiple high current circuits, possibly from different phases of incoming power or different UPSs. Standalone cabinet PDUs are self-contained units that include main circuit breakers, individual circuit breakers, and power monitoring panels. The cabinet provides internal bus bars for neutral and grounding. Prepunched top and bottom panels allow for safe cable entry.[6]


In homes and offices, power distribution unit may also refer to a power strip or similar device for consumer use. These units are usually portable.

An "extension block" for connecting multiple devices to a single socket

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Definition of: Power distribution unit". Ziff Davis. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "Sentry Power Manager: Rack-Level Data Center Power Monitoring and Management". Server Technology. 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "PDU Metering at the Inlet, Outlet, and Branch Circuits - Raritan". 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  4. ^ "PX Intelligent Rack PDUs". 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  5. ^ [1], Roth, Wayne D.; Donald A. Conner & Ronald S. Orris, "United States Patent: 9865109 - Systems and methods for controlling an electronic lock for a remote device" 
  6. ^ "Cabinet Power Distribution". APC. Retrieved November 4, 2013.