A portable air conditioner is a great product to have on hand in a data center. These units are more cost effective and deployed much faster than a complete redesign of your data center. We have talked previously about the importance of selecting the correct portable air conditioner in Keep IT Cool- How to Calculate BTU and select the Right Portable Air Conditioner. We will dive deeper into not only the common issues that arise with a hot data center, but how effective portable air conditioners are and how to keep things cool.
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What are the most important issues to consider when purchasing data center cooling equipment (either portable or stationary)?
When purchasing data center cooling equipment, you’ll first want to determine what your current needs are, as well as your budget. There are a few different cooling options to consider, if you are either building a data center from the floor up or looking to install a brand new cooling system.
Basic air-cooled systems (ones consisting of a traditional CRAC unit) are very commonly used for small to medium sized IT environments, and are an ideal option to consider for standard density arrangements, as they are rather inexpensive to operate and are easy to maintain, however can be disadvantageous for high density applications.
Free-air cooling systems keep operational costs down by utilizing natural (or outside) air to cool the data center, and are a relatively low-cost solution to implement. However, they are not always feasible, especially if your data center is located in an area with an unfavorable climate (i.e. high humidity areas), or in an area with poor air quality.
Liquid cooling systems come highly regarded as they are considered to be more efficient than other systems. They also run much more quietly than traditional cooling systems do, which creates a more ideal environment for the technicians working within the data center. The main disadvantage to these systems, however, is the upfront costs; the equipment required to implement a liquid cooled system is very expensive, and they also require costly upkeep.
Portable cooling units (otherwise known as spot coolers) are an ideal solution if you are looking to affordably patch a temporary cooling concern, such as seasonal temperature fluctuations.
What are some of the more popular options?
For most data centers, traditional air-cooled systems are still the most prevalent cooling system in use, partly due to the introduction of various row-based and in-row cooling solutions. These solutions allow data center managers to resolve troublesome heat issues at their source; these solutions can be implemented where and when needed, providing a less costly alternative to increasing the entire data center cooling capacity. For new construction data centers, a shift towards more energy efficient solutions, such as free-air systems, is taking place.
What steps should buyers take to ensure the equipment they purchase can adequately cool the data center?
In order to determine what size air conditioning system will be required, you’ll first need to determine how much heat your system will generate. These numbers need to not only include the IT load itself, but also the power systems (UPSes and power distribution units), the heat generated by lighting equipment, and the number of people working within the data center. Once that data has been collected and compiled, that number will need to be inflated to account for redundancy, the effects of humidification, and future growth of the data center. A white paper published by Schneider Electric advises that, as a general rule for smaller network rooms (under 4,000 square feet), a CRAC system rating should be 1.3 times the projected IT load rating, plus any capacity added for redundancy. For larger data centers, more factors need to be taken into consideration, such as additional heat sources like roofs and walls, recirculation, etc.
What are some of the most common mistakes buyers make related to cooling equipment?
One of the most common mistakes made when purchasing cooling systems is sacrificing quality for cost. While you do not want to purchase a system that is overkill for your data center, you do want to make sure that you have the required capacity available for growth and redundancy, which ties directly into another common error: purchasing a system that is not scalable enough for your needs. Unless your plan is to not grow, make sure you are selecting a data center cooling system that can grow with you, not one that will become obsolete a few years down the road.
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We find having a portable air conditioner is great for spot cooling when moving equipment and re-configuring your space, many models are Energy Star efficient and they can be quickly used rather than seeking approval from maintenance for changing drop-ceiling panels or adjusting exhaust ducts.
The first thing you need to understand are BTUs or British Thermal Units, which are a unit of measurement for energy. Basically this is an indication of how much the unit can cool or heat a room. In other words a 92,000 BTU portable air conditioner is much more powerful than that of a 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner. Typically portable air conditioners use the number of BTU to determine the size of the room that it would be able to service, but in a data center application the amount of heat from the equipment is equally important. To assist customers Rackmount Solutions uses the following rough formula to help find you the right unit:
(20 x Room SQFT) + (Equipment Watts x 3.14) + (Active People in Room x 400) = Size of Portable A/C Unit in BTU
As an example: James has a 600 Sqft. room, with two active employees, and 1500W of equipment. Based on the formula he would need at least 17,510 BTU to cool the entire room. In this case the AmeriCool WPC-5000 which has 21,000 BTU would be his best option. We would also recommend the WPC-4000 at 16,800 BTU, but at $100 difference our opinion would be to get the larger unit allowing for flexibility as he adds equipment in the future.
If you need help finding a particular portable air conditioner, we have a catalog of options for virtually any environment. From small units at 10k BTU up to 92k BTU of cooling capacity. Talk to an expert at Rackmount Solutions by calling 1-800-352-6631.
So you need to change your cooling approach, but you’re afraid it’ll require massive adjustments and expensive purchases. Not necessarily! Here are some simple steps you can take to increase cooling efficiency without breaking the bank.
1. Improving Air Circulation
First, you need to make sure you have proper air circulation inside your cabinets. By using filler panels to cover any open spaces, this will help to circulate air properly throughout your equipment minimizing hot spots. If you’re a company using large dedicated cooling systems, we recommend using spot coolers, or even moving your most critical systems around within your cabinet so they’re in the coolest area.
Air circulation is important both inside cabinets and outside in the aisles. If your data center has a raised floor, you should consider utilizing under-floor space to generate cool air, and then feed it up into the room. With this method, your dedicated cooling system won’t need to run at its maximum level throughout the summer, driving your power consumption down and saving your company from high energy costs.
2. Have a Backup Plan
In addition to purchased or rented portable air conditioning units, you might also consider redundant cooling solutions. These can kick on in case of failure somewhere else ensuring that your data center and the valuable information stored within it stays safe.
3. Cost-Cutting Steps
No matter how efficient your cooling approach is, during the summer months, data centers can expect an increase in energy costs. Shutting down any equipment that’s not currently being used and turning off the lights when the room is unoccupied are simple, but great ways to minimize heat levels in your data center. These simple steps can save you from 1% to 3% of electric and heat load, which over time renders large amounts of savings.
For information about Rackmount Cooling Solutions, read more here…
If you are looking to purchase everything for your data center in a single place, Rackmount Solutions has you covered. While cooling is an essential part of your space it is important to focus on other aspects as well. While our online catalog appears robust, we have exponentially more options available over the phone. We pride ourselves in taking care of the customer from server rack cabinets to power to cable management, to the necessary portable A/C units. With unique products like air conditioned server racks, soundproof server racks, and custom DC Power solutions, when you order from Rackmount Solutions you have the ability to get everything you need in a single place. We have large amounts of inventory that will ensure fast delivery for all your data center needs!