Managing Data Center Cooling

Managing data center cooling is essential to maximize cooling capacity and efficiency. When cooling is handled correctly, it provides an optimal environment for servers. Frequently, heat-related issues arise from issues that can easily be fixed. Facility managers should always follow industry best practices to ensure that the cooling system operates at its best. Facility managers can take a few simple steps to make improvements.

Step 1: Seal openings in floors and cabinets

The first step in improving is sealing openings in the raised floor and server racks. The benefit of closing gaps is reducing bypass airflow or cooling that bypasses servers. Plus, sealing openings helps prevent cool air from mixing with warm exhaust airflow, causing it to be less effective. Both of these conditions will decrease the efficiency of your cooling system and often results in heat-related issues in cabinets. Therefore, sealing openings in floors and cabinets enables greater cooling efficiency.

Step 2: Direct airflow toward servers

Next, use directional airflow panels to point cooling airflow toward servers in cabinets. Directing airflow is achieved by replacing standard perforated panels with directional airflow panels. Directing airflow also helps reduce bypass airflow because servers capture more cooling. This concept is like directing air conditioning in your car toward you on a hot day. The result is you receive more cool air. So, directing airflow to the right place is vital for an energy-efficient data center.

Step 3: Balance cooling with heat loads

Next, use automatic or manual dampers in airflow panels that adjust to match variable heat loads in server cabinets. Dampers help control the flow of cooling a floor panel dispenses toward a cabinet. Automatic dampers use sensors on cabinets and adjust as heat loads change. Dampers significantly improve cooling efficiency. Controls can also be used on computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units to control cooling as loads change.

Step 4: Separate and contain airflow

Finally, consider separating cold or hot aisles through containment structures. Both cold and hot aisle containment has benefits. There are also ways to control airflow through virtual containment. Virtual containment uses partial containment by partially installing aisle doors and directional airflow panels to block the cool and warm airflow mixing. Virtual containment has advantages to complete containment structures because it does not require reconfiguration of fire suppression, lighting, or cause service disruptions associated with traditional containment.

Following these four steps will help improve your existing cooling system’s data center cooling performance. Before adding new capacity, always make sure you’re following these best practices to get the most out of your existing cooling.

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