Data Center Cooling: Best Practices

Data centers have an incredibly complex infrastructure, made up of IT equipment that generates waste in the form of heat. Like all waste, that heat must be removed for the system to function properly and last long. Understanding a data center’s cooling structure can help businesses evaluate whether a facility can protect and maintain their IT equipment.

Let’s take a look at some tips and best practices for data center cooling.

1) Eliminate Hotspots

A hotspot in a data center is defined as the location at the intake of IT equipment where the measured temperature is greater than normal. It normally occurs towards the top of a rack due to improper cooling of the data center equipment. Data center hotspots are often caused by problems with the airflow. Data center hotspots can be detected by three methods: manual temperature measurement, automatic thermal monitoring, and feeling for the high temperature at the front of racks with your hands by walking around. The last method is the easiest and lowest in cost, however, it is also the least accurate method.

Eliminating a hotspot as early as possible is critical to prevent IT equipment from overheating and malfunctioning. One way to do so is by placing in-row cooling units directly within a row of racks and cabinets. In-row cooling systems create a shorter airflow path than CRAC/CRAH units, so the chilled air reaches the IT equipment more quickly.

Another way is by using Aisle Containment Systems, which are designed to prevent the mixing of chilled intake air with hot exhaust air. Typically, traditional data centers often use hot aisle containment, in which racks and cabinets are arranged with the server exhausts facing each other. As a result, the hot exhaust air is isolated and sent directly to the CRAC unit. Both in-row cooling and aisle containment are often used in conjunction with each other to further increase its efficiency.

2) Measure and Manage Cooling System

The optimal cooling system for any data center depends upon its size and location, the type of equipment being used, and the power density. The problem is that data centers often have excess installed cooling capacity, but they aren’t being used adequately due to the lack of airflow management. For instance, there might be leakage airflow due to open cutouts. As a result, the cool air failed to get to the front of the IT equipment, and instead, bypassed that equipment. Essentially, it is short-circuiting back to the cooling units without transferring any heat energy, thus hotspots continue to appear despite the abundance of installed cooling capacity.

A data center needs to measure and manage its cooling system properly in order to achieve data center cooling efficiency. That might include consistent monitoring and being mindful of heat sources, containing each rack or cabinet so as to not draw hot air from surrounding servers, and cable & hardware monitoring to ensure all materials are well-organized and will reduce blocked airflow. Practices that reduce leakage, bypass, and recirculation help to eliminate hot spots.

3) Install High-Efficiency Humidity Control and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

With hundreds of thousands of servers constantly running at the same time inside data centers, these machines generate enormous amounts of heat. Computer room cooling can be quite a challenge due to the large amounts of heat that are produced via the computers and equipment. Removing that heat is essential to guarantee the reliability of a data center and the continuity of its operations.

HVAC systems are essential in every data center to keep the appropriate temperature and humidity levels in server rooms. They determine how much energy the facility will consume to carry out operations and impact the price for the service offered by the data center. There are many things to consider when designing an HVAC system for a data center, therefore it is recommended to get a professional to install an HVAC in your data center.

Northern Lights Data and Protection can advise on the optimal temperature control solution, such as an HVAC system, to meet your current and future business needs. We can analyse your specific requirements including power density, room size, growth plans, budget, running costs, and other factors to help you balance these considerations and suggest a solution that fits your business goals.

At Northern Lights Data, we can also provide you with power protection solutions to meet your UPS installation, power conditioner, and power management needs. Our team of UPS specialist can assist your data centers with various services, ensuring that your business is well-protected from electrical disruptions at all times. Mitigate your downtime and losses, get in touch with Northern Lights Data today.

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