By Erich Hamilton, Director of Engineering, DAMAC
While many people welcome summer’s warmer weather and sunny days, for data center operators it is often some of the most trying and expensive months of the year.
Temperatures in a data center should not exceed a certain limit, which is unique to each data center, in order to ensure hardware operates at an optimal level. Once the servers surpass the maximum operating temperature, equipment will begin to fail. The heat created from the servers and lighting in a data center, combined with summer’s hot air puts a data center at high risk for fried hardware, as well as a costly repair and electric bills.
Often times, data center operators will make the mistake of overprovisioning Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units in an effort to keep their data centers cool. While this solution will maintain optimal temperature levels, it is extremely expensive to house a CRAC unit in every aisle. Other operators deploy racks with a lower number of servers to use less air, and in turn reduce their energy bill, however, this method does not maximize the density of a data center.
There is no need for such pricey methods to prevent your data center from overheating, when the solution is as simple as painting your server racks white.
Here are five cost-efficient tips for keeping your data center cool this summer:
- Painting your data center white instead of black
There is a big push right now from the government for data centers to reduce the amount of energy expended on cooling systems. Many data center manufacturers suggest going white. Painting a data center’s servers, cabinets or aisle containments white will repel light and heat, unlike the color black that is known to absorb and contain heat. Think about it, when do you feel most overheated? When you are wearing white, or black? White server racks or cabinets reflect around 80 percent of light, while black reflects around five percent of light. To put this in perspective, simply having an all-white data center will reduce lighting requirements by 25 to 30 percent. Basically, less light bulbs mean less energy consumption, which results in a reduced electric bill.
- Containing air separation
Effective airflow management is a successful solution that prevents a data center from overheating, while also being cost-efficient. Both hot and cold aisle containments will help improve the efficiency of a data center’s traditional cooling system, by minimizing the amount of hot and cold air that mixes together.
A cold aisle containment’s purpose is to contain cold air, while keeping hot air out. This is done by installing end of row doors, aisle ceilings or overhead vertical wall systems, which allows the cold air to be directed into the air intakes of the servers.
Hot aisle containments are the rows in which the servers pour heated exhausts. Similar to a cold aisle containment, a hot aisle containment’s role is to prevent cold and hot air from mixing, however, hot aisles face the air conditioner ducts and send hot air through to be recycled into cold air.
Whether it’s a hot or cold, using aisle containments in a data center will ensure the air flow stays predictable and efficient.
- Recessed PDUs
Power Distribution Units (PDUs) increases a data center’s efficiency, uptime, and growth. Recessed PDUs connect environmental sensors, which allows operators to measure temperature, airflow and humidity. This in turn, helps operators troubleshoot and optimize a data center’s energy efficiency. PDUs provide a safe and cost-effective solution for rack applications by distributing power at the required voltage throughout all of the server racks, ensuring that the servers do not overheat.
Every company has different cooling needs, therefore, a data center should be designed around those specific requirements. Standard catalog products don’t work well in every data center, due to variations in cable routing, power configurations and cooling environments from one organization to another, to name a few. If a data center is not designed to maximize the space and direct air flow in an efficient manner, operators can be stuck with some pretty costly energy bills. Customizing your data center will not only enhance the data center environment, but also enable more efficient operations and optimized use of the space and cooling.
- One manufacturer for all of your needs
Using one manufacturer for all of your data center needs allows everything to operate at optimal levels, reducing the amount of energy needed to keep your data center cool. The design of an aisle containment system is easier when the customer already has that manufacturers cabinets. For instance, DAMAC’s cabinets are designed with aisle containment in mind so there are attachment points built in already. This leads to less custom design work and produces components that fit together seamlessly to make a more sealed aisle containment system, which helps manage effective airflow and reduces the amount of energy spent on cooling systems.
For organizations where it is too late to use just one manufacturer, they should work with a company that specializes in custom designs for both cabinets and aisle containment. This allows an organization more choices in how the aisle containment can be made to minimize or eliminate any air leakage. A company that only offers off-the-shelf or limited variations of component design can limit an organization’s goal of maximizing cooling efficiency.
About the Author
As the Director of Engineering for DAMAC, Erich Hamilton is the cornerstone for all things racks and containment. His seasoned insight allows him to partner with DAMAC clients to create the ideal custom creation for their data center needs. When Hamilton is not developing innovative designs for DAMAC, he spends his time hiking trails of California, yoga and enjoying a great vegetarian meal.
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