Optimise cooling and improve energy efficiency

By following the best practices for Airflow Management laid out in Upsite Technologies’ 4Rs of Airflow Management it is possible to optimise cooling systems and make them more energy efficient. This is vital for Data Centres if they want to meet the aims set out in the European Code of Conduct.

The European Code of Conduct for Data Centres was launched in 2008. Its aim was to improve the energy efficiency of the Data Centre market, a sector of growing energy consumption. The Code of Conduct is a voluntary initiative with its aim to improve the understanding of Data Centre energy demands, raising awareness and recommending energy efficient best practices and targets.

With Data Centre cooling taking up a large proportion of a facility’s power demands, optimising it and making it as efficient as possible can lead to significant energy cost savings.

Airflow Management Best Practices

Upsite Technologies, a leading authority on Data Centre Airflow Management, devised the 4Rs of Airflow Management as a set of airflow management best practices. By making changes at the first three levels, it enables set point changes to be made to CRAC units at the 4th Room level which lead to a reduction in the amount of energy required to cool the Data Centre.

The first three levels are designed to optimise cooling by preventing the mixing of hot and cold air streams, a vital component of good airflow management. This is achieved at each level by the following best practices:

Raised Floor

At Raised Floor level it is recommended that Data Centres are laid out in a hot aisle cold aisle configuration. Air supply grilles within the raised floor should only be located in the cold aisles, and only solid floor tiles should be used in hot aisles. Cable openings in the raised floor should be sealed to prevent cold air leakage. As these are often located under the rear of server cabinets left unsealed, they are a key area where air streams can mix. The leading solution to seal these is KoldLok raised floor grommets which are designed to allow cables to pass through whilst providing sufficient seal to keep air leakage to a minimum.

Racks

The equipment mounted within server cabinets requires cooling to be supplied at the front of the racks. Cold air passes through the mounted equipment and cools it, with hot exhaust air exiting at the rear. This hot air can circulate back to the front of the rack where it can mix with the cold air. In doing so the cooling air isn’t as cold as it should be. In severe cases this can cause hot spots and lead to equipment performance issues, and can even shorten equipment life expectancies. Following airflow management best practices at Rack level requires all gaps sealed to prevent the hot air reaching the front of the rack. Within the equipment mounting area this can be achieved through the use of blanking panels. EDP Europe offers three of the market leading solutions HotLok, EziBlank and PlenaFill. Other areas within the rack where gaps can be found is between the sides of the racks and the mounting frame. Areas above, below and, left and right of the mounting frame should be sealed. EDP Europe offers the HotLok RAM Kit or RackSEAL to seal these areas.

Rows

At row level any gaps between or below racks should be sealed to prevent hot exhaust air from wrapping under or around the racks. For maximum best practice at row level the introduction of an aisle containment system should be made. Aisle containment comes is two forms Hot Aisle Containment where the hot aisle is enclosed and Cold Aisle Containment where the cold aisle is enclosed. There are pros and cons for both systems but the end result is the same in that they prevent hot and cold air from mixing.

By following these airflow management best practices and making changes at Room level after each of the three steps, energy performance gains can be made.

If you would like to know more about airflow management, June sees Upsite’s Airflow Management Awareness Month where they will be running a series of webinars. Find out more by visiting their website.

In the meantime, if you have any airflow management issues you would like to discuss then contact us and our team will be happy to help.