This summer’s heat wave caused fatalities and other social impacts — and caused data center shutdowns. Cooling strategies can help manage the impact of rising temperatures. (Photo: Rich Miller)
In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv, discusses short- and long-term cooling strategies to help your data center manage rising seasonal temperatures.
Record-setting heat is making headlines around the world this year – and raising concerns about the road ahead for data centers. In the summer, extraordinary temperatures hit India, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, India, and other countries, according to an October 2022 report from the International Red Cross and the United Nations.
The heat wave caused fatalities and other social impacts – and led to the shutdown of data centers in the UK when temperatures reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). In addition, the heat wave caused a decrease in electricity production in France and concerns about water use in drought-stricken areas of the US, both of which could affect data centers. Experts say that Europe is particularly vulnerable to heat waves in the coming year.
Plan ahead for rising temperatures
As data center operators prepare for a hotter future, it’s important to look to areas with experience in extreme heat, as well as take advantage of newer technologies.
Based on our global experience, we recommend that you:
- Evaluate the layout of rooftop heat rejection and data center infrastructure design to withstand high heat load and high ambient temperature, consider CFD analysis of proper air distribution to optimize the placement of equipment on the roof.
- Consider alternatives to conventional cooling systems, including water-free cooling and evaporative-free cooling systems. This option is designed to deliver reliability and efficiency at high temperatures.
- Data hall design for high operating temperature to reduce the difference to the outdoor ambient for the best capacity planning.
- Regularly audit your data center cooling system for proper operation, and to ensure that it continues to meet design capacity needs.
Short term action plan
Given the projections, rising temperatures are likely to return sooner rather than later. Here are two actions you can take in high heat situations to protect your data center equipment:
Run as many units as possible. As the temperature rises, it is important to keep the pressure of the refrigerant as low as possible so that there is no risk of traveling under high pressure. You can do this by running as many cooling units as possible, depending on the load of the data hall, to minimize the load on each individual unit. Typically, an organization will run all units redundantly. If the IT load is not 100%, run enough units to divide the per-cooling units evenly. This practice also provides a more efficient operating point.
Preventive maintenance schedule. If you don’t already have a plan in place, now is the time to call your service provider to create one. If you already have a maintenance plan, check with your service provider to make sure it’s ready when the weather rises. Two keys to success:
- Clean condenser coils. Lack of proper, regular cleaning of the condenser coil can cause more than a reduction in the capacity of the entire thermal unit from the ambient air itself. Clean the rolls more often during the pollen, dust and cotton seasons as well as before the high temperature months. Compressor-based units (DX) typically require quarterly or more frequent cleaning of the condenser coils.
- Check Refrigerant Charge Level. If the level is too low or out of range, the system will not deliver design capacity and the compressor may overheat. Proper maintenance helps ensure the system operates efficiently.
By adopting these short-term and long-term strategies, you can improve the reliability and performance of your IT infrastructure now and in the future as we face the impacts of rising temperatures.
Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv where he is a charter member of the “Gang of Cool,” Vertiv’s team of thermal management experts is committed to sharing their expertise with the industry to improve the efficiency and reliability of the data center and edge. silence Contact Vertiv for more details.