Most information technology professionals know that cabinet cooling systems are essential for data communications rooms. High temperatures can occur during peak times when servers are under the most pressure and they simply operate faster and more reliably when they are kept within their recommended operational temperatures. Obviously, ventilation and air con design are essential elements of any modern data room. However, IT workers often make mistakes when it comes to keeping their key equipment cool. What are the pitfalls to avoid?
More Air Conditioning Supply
If the data room is hotter than it ought to be, then the obvious solution is to add more air con, right? Well, no. Better air conditioning units may be called for, but simply adding greater capacity to a system can be inefficient and draw power away from where it is most needed. It is better to get air con design right in the first place than to simply react to the increased heat found in server equipment by adding more and more air con capacity.
Leaving the Door Open
It is quite surprising how many data rooms are left with their doors open for long periods of time. Yes, it can be inconvenient to keep opening the door every time that you need to go in and out and sometimes wedging a door open happens, let’s face it. However, if you get into the habit of this, then air flow from the nearby office will occur, thus making the air conditioning system having to work that bit harder. Ultimately, this can lead to more air conditioning units being replaced, so remember to shut the door every time.
Ventilated Enclosures with Integrated Air Con
If a server cabinet’s integral ventilation system cannot maintain its interior temperature at a low enough level, then the preferred option is often to fit an enclosure air conditioning unit within it. When doing so, it should be noted that that the cabinet’s ventilation openings ought to be sealed. Otherwise hot air from outside will get into the enclosure. This can mean that incoming air will make the internal air conditioning compressor switch on for longer periods of time. In warmer ambient condition this can cause wear to the server equipment stored within the enclosure.
Purchasing an air conditioning unit can be something of an uphill struggle with all of the demands that are put on an IT budget over the course of a financial year. Getting the financial director to sign off on an air con unit can feel like getting blood from a stone, especially if the improvement to the server operation will be incremental. However, resist the temptation to go for temporary or low-cost cooling measures. These are simply false economies in the long run and it is better to go for the best option you can afford. When buying, look at the operating temperature, the condensate recovery, the power consumption and the enclosure protection rating of any product before committing financially.
Fit and Forget?
It is fair to say that most people in IT are not air con maintenance savvy. Okay, they might notice when a breakdown has occurred, but what about minor disruptions to service or small inefficiencies that build up in typical air conditioning system over time? Among the most common reasons for air conditioners failing in data rooms is because they have been neglected. It is essential to make regular checks of any system and to conduct preventive maintenance. Something as simple as a blocked air filter, for example, can increase the operating temperature found in a compressor, a condenser or an evaporator, so don’t overlook the importance of maintenance.