containment panel wall in a data center

Choosing The Right Panels For Aisle Containment

Keeping a data center the proper temperature for the maximum level of efficiency and prolonged longevity for the equipment is essential. One of the more common methods of achieving this is through aisle containment. When it comes to Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) as a method of keeping a data center’s server rooms at an optimal temperature, the idea is to keep most of the cool air confined to certain server aisles. Generally, the hot air exhausted from the operation of the machines can be ushered elsewhere. This keeps the warm and cool air from mixing together in the data center and creates better efficiency.

Increasing CAC Efficiency

One may wish to employ extra features to help in accomplishing this such as ductwork or containment ceiling panels. It should be noted that these are not your typical dropped ceiling panels but rather specially designed ones for the situation, Aisle Containment Panels. These ceiling panels are typically horizontal fixed panels placed between the server racks, constructed to hang over the server aisles for the purpose of containing the colder air to that aisle. This can be especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings where warm air is likely to gather.

Vertical extension panels can also be employed, allowing some air to be exhausted or delivered by ducts running over the server stacks. This can also be done in horizontal containment, for example, in sites without raised floors, through cut-outs in the ceiling panels to allow greater passage of air.

Aisle Containment Server Ceiling Panel System - Choosing the Right Panels For Aisle Containment

Drawbacks To Aisle Containment Panels

Fixed containment panels work well in isolating the cool air and preventing it from combining with heated air, such as is exhausted by the machines, over the cabinets. There are some concerns involved, however, such as decreased light in working areas and blockage of fire suppression systems.

Solutions Offered By Cool Shield

With Cool Shield’s line of fixed containment panels, a number of issues have been addressed:

  • • Transparency allows great visibility with nearly full light transmission through the panels
  • • Offers an integrated channel system which insures that all gaps are filled and fittings are snug
  • • Mounting is simply accomplished with the Cool Shield channel system
  • • Features an exceptional fire rating



The low opacity design allows for light to pass through the panels well enough to not require additional lighting in the room. This can save money and reduce the need for redundant lighting in the server room.

Channel Locking System

The system designed and used by Cool Shield utilizes a special channel system to allow for the easy removal and replacement of necessary panels over time. The system also fits snugly in place to prevent any leakage of air from the contained area to the larger room.

containment panel walls rendering 4 - Choosing the Right Panels For Aisle Containment

Fire Suppression

Obstruction of fire suppression systems can be a major problem. A number of solutions have been offered to remedy the situation. One of the simpler methods is to extend the fire suppression system through cut-outs in the panel. This is relatively inexpensive but perhaps not the best overall solution.

Thermal Drop Away Aisle Containment Panels (TDAACP)

Cool Shield opts instead for Thermal Drop Away Aisle Containment Panels that will be released in case of a fire to clear as much space as needed for the room’s fire suppression system to douse the flames. Fusible links are built into the containment panel system that will support the panels very well until a specific UL rated temperature is reached. Most frequently this is a setting of 135 degrees Fahrenheit, lower than most fire suppression systems.

This action of breaking away is done through Cool Shield’s electromagnetic release function which is designed to integrate into the fire control panel. When the set temperature of the room is reached, the panels are signaled for release from above. The result is a lightweight, dependable product that becomes part of your fire suppression system instead of getting in the way of it.

Benefits Of Using The TDAACP System

The Benefits Of The Cool Shield Thermal Drop Away Ceiling Panels:

  • • Transparent panels offer the same visibility levels
  • • Panels can be easily replaced or removed for repairs in the contained area
  • • Electromagnetic system allows panels to break away if 135 degrees F is reached
  • • Material used meets all NFPA 75 fire rating requirements



Containment Panel Walls 5 - Choosing the Right Panels For Aisle Containment

Our transparent panels remain lightweight through the use of the containment system. These panels are framed by a 2″ wide aluminum extrusion, which keeps the lightweight panels firmly in place despite pressure received from the cold aisle. This can allow our panels to also be easily lifted from its frame to adjust or repair cables or the machines without great difficulty. Even if some Fire Marshals require smoke detectors to be placed in the contained area, this is easily done.

Increased Space

A gasket frame can be used to surround the perimeter of the cold aisle, running above the cabinets. This elevates them enough to avoid screw heads and makes certain the panels do not get in the way of the server room’s door opening and closing. The frame may be attached directly to the cabinets as well, if so desired.

Either setup offered by Cool Shield can be tailored to work with your data center to offer you the greatest efficiency possible.