Data centers use an enormous amount of energy daily. A significant portion of that energy goes to regulating intake temperature. From air conditioning to cooling systems, temperature regulation technology is used in every data center to protect equipment from temperature-related damage. However, a new method of temperature regulation has become increasingly popular over the last few years: cold aisle containment. Offering massive energy savings, data center cold aisle containment has changed the way many IT facilities are designed. So what is cold aisle containment, and how can your company leverage it to your advantage? This article answers those questions and lays out considerations for installment.
What Is a Cold Aisle Containment System?
Cold aisle containment (CAC) works by isolating cool supply air from hot exhaust air and focusing the cooling on equipment intake in a process called focused cooling. This is accomplished by installing IT racks with intakes facing a cold aisle. This cold aisle is completely enclosed by ceiling panels and doors at the end of the aisle, and cold air is pumped in for the equipment air inlets to take in. The air then passes through the equipment and is pushed through the exhaust, which is outside of the cold aisle. This cold aisle containment prevents the hot and cold air from mixing, meaning that less energy is required to keep the system at a controlled and consistent temperature.
You may have also heard of hot air containment systems, which operate off a similar principle. Hot aisle containment (HAC) encloses the aisle where the IT equipment’s hot exhaust air comes out. By isolating the hot air, the rest of the data center is free to circulate cold air without needing to worry about the air mixing. While hot air containment systems provide up to 40% cooling system energy savings and can be more effective than cold aisle containment, these systems are often not an option for existing data centers. Hot aisle vs. cold aisle containment comes down to whether you are building a new data center or working with an existing center. In existing centers the air conditioning and flow of air in the data center determines whether it is best to utilize hot or cold aisles.
Benefits of Cold Aisle Containment
Cold aisle containment effectively focuses cool air on the intake side of IT equipment. This system of cold aisle isolation delivers several operational benefits to data centers, including the following:
- Effective isolation: Cold aisle isolation minimizes the mixing of hot and cold air, allowing for greater control of intake air temperature. Normally, cooling systems must be set much lower than needed to account for the mixing of hot and cool air. By eliminating the mixing of air, cooling systems do not need to be set as low.
- Focused cooling: By focusing cooling at the rack level, cool air gets where it needs to go, rather than being directed into a general area. This ensures that there are no hot spots and no equipment is subjected to higher temperatures than specified by the manufacturer.
- Greater capacity: Cold aisle containment systems can cool higher air temperature loads. Raised floor systems can handle up to 15kW, and cold aisle containment systems with in-row cooling can handle over 30kW heat loads per rack.
- Increased efficiency: Cold aisle containment makes the cooling system more efficient, and it improves data center efficiency as a whole. By delivering effective cooling and eliminating hot spots, cold aisle isolation systems ensure that equipment is operating at optimal levels.
- Efficient spacing: Data center space is very expensive, yet many data centers end up not using much of that space due to temperature concerns. Top levels of racks are often empty due to difficulty in controlling air temperature and racks may be spaced further apart to allow more airflow. Cold aisle containment eliminates wasteful use of space by ensuring that all levels of the rack get cold air, even the top levels. By increasing rack population, data centers can use data center space more efficiently and increase revenue per square foot.
All of these factors result in significant cost savings and maximized revenue for data centers. With such significant savings, its no wonder why cold aisle containment has become such a staple in data centers.
Choose DataSpan for Data Center Solutions
If you want to learn more about hot aisle vs. cold aisle containment and how you can leverage aisle isolation in your data center, DataSpan can help. DataSpan is a national technology solutions provider with over 40 years of experience in the industry. With solutions ranging from IT physical infrastructure to data center IT services, we dedicate ourselves to helping our customers accomplish their goals with the best combination of new and existing resources.
Contact DataSpan today to learn more about cold aisle containment, our services and how we can help your business achieve your efficiency goals.