Gartner’s 3 Easiest Ways to Improve Data Center Cooling Efficiency

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, February 12th 2014 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Colocation , Data Center Design, Green Data Center

Even as we build a new efficient data center, we’re always looking for ways to improve the PUE of our existing facilities. As fans of efficient infrastructure in general (after all, efficient equipment is well-installed, well-maintained, and operates at a lower cost), we encourage our data center peers to strive for efficiency as well.

Gartner posted a Top 10 Techniques to Improve Data Center Cooling Efficiency back in April 2012. We’ll take a look at the three methods they found easy to perform while still delivering dramatic results.

1) Chimneys
Chimneys are placed above server racks to funnel hot air upward towards ducts or plenums that remove it from the floor. This helps reduce the amount of hot air that escapes into other aisles. Chimneys can be built in-house or purchased from vendors. For new builds, chimneys or similarly functioning ceilings can be included in the design. Chimneys are very easy to install but only provide middle ground improvements.

2) Shut Down CRAC Units
Though it sounds risky to many data center managers, most facilities are overzealously cooling, with empty white space cooled to low temperatures or redundant chillers running at all hours. Shutting down a CRAC or two can significantly reduce energy expenditure, and it can also help with (3) raising the ambient temperature. This is a very easy step to take and it can lead to large gains in efficiency.

3) Raise Ambient Temperature
The average temperature of data center facilities is a subject much touched upon recently in discussions of efficiency, and it is now common knowledge that data centers can be operated at a much higher temperature than previously thought. The ambient temperature refers not to the air temperature of cold aisles, but the average temperature throughout the facility. Historical room temperatures could be as low as 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but modern manufacturer’s guidelines allow 95 degrees or warmer without overheating woes. The temperature can safely be raised to between 75 and 80 degrees, quickly reducing energy costs. This is an easy step to take that can result in extreme energy savings or up to 3% per temperature degree increase.

These are merely the biggest bang-for-your-buck ways to improve cooling efficiency. Visit the Gartner report to see full explanations of these cooling improvement methods, including hot aisle/cold aisle, variable speed drives, airflow, smaller floor space, technology refresh, and external augmentation.

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz

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