hot aisle containment system between server cabinets, white

Hot and Cold Aisle Containment: How it Works, Efficiency and Environmental Concerns

In order to meet the growing demand of new services and applications, such as blockchain technology and other increasingly complex data apps, control rooms and command centers for any and all sized businesses are having to step it up a notch. As a result, more servers and server space is required, presenting organizations with greater challenges with regard to efficiency, manageability, and costs.

Increase the number of servers and you’ll require more space. This has begun to spell trouble for the current data center setup as temperature spikes and fluctuations can cause servers to overheat and shut down. In order to efficiently run a server facility in today’s day and age, your data center will likely need some sort of aisle containment system in place, either hot or cold.

Containment Options:

  • • Cold-Aisle Containment (CACS)
  • • How Cold-Aisle Containment Works
  • • Hot-Aisle Containment (HACS)
  • • How Hot-Aisle Containment Works
  • • Containment Efficiency
  • • Environmental Concerns

aisle containment system

Cold-Aisle Containment (CACS)

This approach is cost-effective and allows for more uptime and a greater amount of servers within a given area. However, as previously mentioned, though the demand for server space is at an all-time high and is only expected to grow in 2019. Cold-aisle containment is scalable but the implementation must be flawless in order to maximize efficiency, keep costs down, and maintain homeostasis in these mega data centers of the future.

How Cold-Aisle Containment Works

Cold-aisle containment effectively contains the cold aisle while allowing the rest of the hot air expelled from servers to fill the data center as a hot-air return plenum. This type of contaminant requires rows of racks to be set up in a hot-aisle / cold-aisle arrangement, which can be a bit of a problem for existing data centers with limited space since two separate channels need to be installed in order to handle the air circulation. The downside to a CACS is that the hot air will remain a constant in the work environment, meaning operators would have to deal with increased temperatures. This system works great for keeping servers and CPUs cool, but at the expense of the system operators (humans) on site.

Hot-Aisle Containment (HACS)

Hot-aisle containment can potentially save data centers more in the long run but the upfront costs are generally steeper. Containing hot air can eliminate hotspots, allowing the cooling unit supply air to circulate the server units without mixing again with the hot air. Since server units can perform in environments most people would find very uncomfortably hot, temperature settings can be higher within the hot aisle while still effectively keeping the entire system at a consistently low enough temperature. Hot-aisle containment is also scalable and since there is a greater range in temperature control, there is less overall energy needing to be applied within the overall system.

How Hot-Aisle Containment Works

In a hot-aisle containment system, hot air from server exhaust is collected while allowing the remainder of the data center to become a large cold-air plenum, opposite to how a cold-aisle system functions. Hot aisles require rows of racks to be arranged in a consistent hot-aisle / cold-aisle position. However, HACS can also be incorporated into a central air conditioning unit as long as there is a viable channel to expel the hot air into.

panel walls with enclosed aisle containment

This is a major advantage to using hot-aisle containment- the fact that existing infrastructure can be used to implement this system without a complete site overhaul. Another huge advantage is the fact that the human operators will always have a cool work environment along with the servers / CPUs, while the hot air is contained separately from all parties.

Containment Efficiency

An efficient data center means fewer operators and more automation. With proper temperature control servers have the ability to run for much longer periods of time without overloads or shutdowns, and the facility as a whole can run uninterrupted. The data centers of the not-too-distant future are investing heavily in efficiency in order to maximize on space and server/CPU reliability. This cannot be accomplished without a proper aisle containment solution of some sort.

Environmental Concerns

Data Centers no doubt increase our carbon footprint. They play a necessary role in our world and our current society would not be able to function or progress into the future without them. Aisle containment has greatly reduced the amount of energy and carbon expelled in the day to day of the world’s data centers, as containment is an invaluable approach to limiting our contribution to global warming. As server technology becomes lighter, smaller, and less energy-intensive, containment solutions will undoubtedly improve alongside it.

For questions or concerns regarding aisle containment solutions, please feel free to contact our support staff anytime.

(Updated on: December 15, 2019 @ 2:20 pm)