Data center HVAC significantly contributes to the cost of operating a data center. Some estimates indicate that it can account for up to 40% of the total operating expenses. That’s why IT and facility managers must be able to manage cooling effectively for the data center. Here are some tips for reducing cooling costs with an effective data center HVAC system.
Data Center HVAC Options
As the need for more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly data centers grow, data center operators are looking at ways to improve their facility’s efficiency concerning cooling and heating.
Data centers have a reputation as energy guzzlers, but with the right HVAC equipment and infrastructure, they can be some of the most efficient facilities in any industry. The key to meeting these critical goals is setting them up from the beginning.
Data center HVAC systems must be built to meet the high demands of facility cooling and heating requirements, which means finding the right contractor for your project. Factors like proper system sizing and installation techniques can tell the difference between an efficient—and thus cost-effective—data center and one that is not.
In general, data center cooling requirements can be classified into five groups based on the density and power of the servers. These groups are:
- Cold aisle containment (CAC)
- Hot aisle containment (HAC)
- Direct expansion (DX)
- Concentrated cooling (CC)
- Independent dedicated cooling (IDC).
Optimizing Data Center HVAC
Green data center efficiency is increasing in focus, especially as energy prices continue to rise. Optimizing data center HVAC saves not only energy but also improves the quality of the HVAC system. Cooling and heating a facility with a broken HVAC system can be expensive and complicated.
The top three factors that contribute to high energy costs within a data center are:
Incorrect airflow design
Incorrect airflow design is the most significant factor in a data center’s high energy costs. By not accounting for the airflow patterns that move within the server cabinets, an entire room can be kept at unnecessarily high temperatures. Proper airflow management is key to the cost-effective cooling of the space.
Correct airflow design can increase thermal capacity by up to 50% by ensuring that air is not recirculated too often or too fast, which can cause the temperature to rise. It can be achieved by designing a balanced airflow system that does not utilize just one fan to provide cooling. Additionally, fans should be placed so that hot air from one portion of the data center can be exhausted at a different time than cold air from another part of the facility.
Incorrect airflow could also lead to increased power used due to servers overheating. Airflow systems are designed to ensure servers are well-rested because they are forced to cool themselves down too rapidly. The last impact of incorrect airflow design is increased server density due to higher temperatures and more frequent applications.
Incorrect airflow distribution design
Air distribution within a data center is essential because it allows for an even temperature distribution, which reduces the energy costs associated with cooling the space.
There are three main ways that airflow can be poorly managed:
- Insufficient intake,
- Excessive exhaust,
- Inadequate distribution.
Insufficient intake: When there isn’t enough incoming fresh air for the number of IT equipment being cooled, the temperature in the room can get uncomfortable for operators and result in higher energy costs for keeping the space cool. Adding more intakes can help solve this issue by improving airflow across equipment.
Excessive exhaust: On the other side of the spectrum, if there are too many exhaust points in the room, warm air will be blown out of the space and replaced by cold air from outside. This can lead to an uncomfortable environment for operators and higher energy costs related to cooling.
Inadequate distribution: Airflow should be distributed evenly throughout a room so that temperatures are consistent across all equipment. This ensures that each piece of equipment is being cooled efficiently.
Poor equipment maintenance
Another main contributor to high costs is equipment maintenance and optimization. For example, if a particular piece of equipment is malfunctioning or running inefficiently, it uses more energy than it needs to.
The most common reasons for this are an improper fan and power supply management. In addition, maintenance tasks such as cleaning can be costly because they require additional electrical power and resources.
To make sure that your data center’s HVAC system is running at peak efficiency, follow these tips:
- Keep indoor temperatures between 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to be more specific, keep the temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit within the equipment room and 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the rest of the facility.
- Get an automated management system that monitors temperature changes within the data center and triggers alerts when adjustments are necessary.
- Make sure that there are no areas in your facility where excessive heat can build up, such as near a doorway or a piece of equipment that has been on for an extended period without being shut down.
- Keep humidity levels within 45-65%.
- Maintain a steady.
Optimizing your HVAC equipment and maintaining your facility at a lower temperature can reduce these expenses by 30%.
The data center is the nerve center of an organization. It contains servers, storage, and the required business infrastructure. Ensuring that it is always running at total capacity involves various HVAC components. Many of these components keep the data center cool and prevent overheating. The air conditioning units are what keep the equipment operating at maximum efficiency. It is important when implementing an ESG strategy for your data center business.
These units are typically powered by gas or electricity and require constant monitoring to ensure they function correctly. In addition to air conditioning, heating must also be provided for those data centers in colder climates.
The optimized performance of any Data center HVAC system is achieved through an iterative process where decisions about equipment selection and placement are made based on actual system performance instead of predicted performance. The result is a more efficient system that provides better overall performance for less money than other options.
Having your system run efficiently will help you reduce costs and ensure that you’re following best practices that protect the environment and ensure the safety of your employees.
Read more: Building a Data Center Infrastructure That Meets Net-Zero Pact