Certain vendor white papers tout the advantages of hot aisle containment. Other vendors claim that cold aisle containment is superior.
Is it all self-serving spin to drive customers to their specific solution or is there evidence to support one approach over the other?
Contact us to design a Hot Aisle Containment solution (HAC).
The hot and cold air Cool Shield solution from Data Center Resources can easily be installed for either type of containment in the server computer room. Therefore, we do not have a vested interest in one over the other. In fact, we have installed dozens of bypass airflow types of containment and our customers have achieved excellent data center cooling results across the board. Based on this, it has been our opinion that it makes no real difference in terms of cooling efficiency which approach is used. As long as the hot exhaust return air temperatures is prevented from air mixing with cold supply air, the results will be there. In fact, Intel recently completed a study where they tested both types and also found the operating efficiency differences to negligible.
However, we often have customers who insist on one approach (Hot or Cold Aisle) based on a white paper they read or a conference they attended. This may not be a problem but often an existing data center cooling capacity is set up to more easily deploy the alternative approach. For example, it is very difficult for a data center to use a hot aisle containment system approach unless they have a return plenum to their CRAC/CRAH units. We are often put into a position to explain that we cannot contain the hot air if it has no path back to the CRAC cooling unit return. There have also been customers who have spent large amounts of money to create a return path that separates the cold air prior to installing a HAC.
The most valid argument against cold aisle containment (CAC) system is the potential for thermal hot exhaust air runaway in the event that there is a disruption in the supply air. This could be the result of a power outage or equipment failure. Most data centers have back-up power and proper redundancies so the effects of such a failure should be minimal. However, it may not take long for servers to be starved for air and begin to overheat.
Data Center Resources has solutions to overcome this challenge. Our electronically activated ceiling panels and thermal links allow vertical or horizontal partitions to open if the temperature cooling capacity in the cold aisle containment system reaches a threshold level. Unlike standard fusible links these can be activated by temperatures at the server intake, exhaust or any other location. This “breaks” the isolation zone which will allow air from other parts of the data center to enter the cold aisle. Implementing these safe guards can be a fraction of the cost of retrofitting a data center to accept a HAC solution. Additionally drop ceiling panel integration affords the opportunity to integration fire suppression. Integrated perforated raised floor panels to isolate hot and cold air.
Please contact us to discuss the most effective approach for your containment project.