air flow system above contained aisle in data center

Air Flow Systems For Your Data Center

Heat is the primary enemy that every data center operator struggles to manage and keep under control. The servers require certain types of conditions in order to thrive and excessive heat can lead to all sorts of problems including reduced server performance and even failure.

Air flow is really the vehicle that must be used to eliminate excessive heat and deliver the proper amount of cooling. Fortunately, there are a number of air flow systems for your data center such as rack containment, in-row cooling, room and aisle containment systems.

Rack Containment Systems:

When consider the management of the air flow in and out of a rack, think first about the intake, ensuring only cold (or cooled) air from the aisle enters the equipment. Another key element of such systems are blanking panels and other types of fittings which prevent the leakage of hot exhaust air into the intake area.

Telescopic chimneys are another excellent way to manage the air flow of your server racks. When used properly, such a solution creates a vertical channel and directs the hot exhaust from your IT equipment to your cooling system. When hot air is isolated in this manner, you can increase rack densities while improving efficiency simultaneously.

In-Row Cooling:

This type of air flow system is probably best suited for hot spot cooling, but works in data centers of all sizes. Placed within a row of your data center racks, an in-row cooling system collects the hot exhaust air and generally pulls it through a heat exchange coil or compartment. The resulting cooled air is then released into the ‘cold aisle,’ where it eventually circulates back and is taken up again by the intakes of the adjacent server cabinets.

When considering an in-row cooling air flow system for your data center, think about the type of configuration needed. The most common types are:

  • Open Loop—Air is circulated, but this configuration still allows direct access to servers.
  • Closed Loop—Fully functional, but with solid front and rear doors.
  • Self Contained—Collects all the hot air, from both the servers and the ‘hot’ aisle.

Room & Aisle Containment:

An aisle or an entire room can be placed into a containment system in order to improve the air flow. The idea is to prevent the mixture of cool(ed) and hot exhaust air. With these systems, rows of server cabinets will face each other to ensure the cool air is able tor each the equipment intakes at the desired temperature.

In order to actually create such an air flow system, a variety of products and equipment can be used. This can include cooling shield panels, containment ceilings, shield strips, doors, and other barrier panels. Below floor air control is also an option, with vented tiles and additional physical separation products and equipment. Air flow through these hot and cold aisles can also be controlled through other blanking panels, PVC curtains or even hard panel boards. Your specific air flow containment strategy should be determined by a number of factors such as:

  • Server tolerance
  • Ambient temperature requirements
  • Data centers leakage

Bottom Line:

There are many considerations to bear in mind when choosing air flow systems for your data center. The physical size, shape, and layout of your data center will influence which types of systems might work best. Additionally, it is quite possible that a combination approach might work best. But instead of guessing, contact the professionals at Data Center Resources for a free consultation, at (866) 740-2121.

(Updated on: Nov 25, 2019 @ 6:40 pm)