Hot Cold Aisle Containment Data Centers

Active data centers run extremely hot. An unmonitored or poorly designed data center can be its own worst enemy. While servers have their own internal cooling mechanisms, hot air can still make its way into the server intakes. The result is overheating.  Overheating of data center equipment can result in reduced server performance or equipment damage due to excessive heat. Aisle containment is often the solution.

One of the data center manager’s primary responsibilities is to keep the machines operating at an ideal temperature. Ideal temperature is between 70° and 75° F. A lay person would suggest that a manager could simply cool the entire room. This has proven to be both inefficient and costly. The cost of managing a data center can skyrocket as data centers became larger and more complex.

Data center aisle containment has become a standard in the industry, saving companies thousands of dollars every year. The data center manager can fully separate cold airflow from exhaust air coming from hot equipment.  The results are a supply temperature that is uniform and predictable.

Hot aisle or cold aisle containment is a layout design for server racks and other computing equipment in a data center. The goal of a hot aisle/cold aisle containment configuration is to conserve energy and lower cooling costs by managing air flow.

Hot aisle/cold aisle containment data center design requires that a data center manager lines up server racks in rows with the cold air intakes facing one direction and hot air exhaust facing the other direction. This makes one side of the row hot and the other side cold.

The system is built around an air conditioning unit called the CRAC or computer room air conditioning unit.  The side of the row that is made up of cold air intakes will typically face the CRAC output ducts. This is known as the cold aisle. The hot aisle is where the hot side of the row typically pours into the CRAC intake. Cooling capacity will increase. Keeping the hot aisle separated from the cold aisle is the core of aisle containment.

Aisle containment is a physical barrier that separates the hot and cold aisles. Aisle containment panels or strips create a partition to isolate either the server supply air (cold aisle containment or CAC) or the exhaust air (hot aisle containment or HAC). For aisle containment, preventing the supply and exhaust air from mixing significantly increases the capacity and cooling efficiency of the cooling infrastructure.

Some data centers focus on just hot aisle or cold aisle containment. The best approach for aisle containment in data centers will be dictated by site conditions. At most sites, it is easier to implement a cold aisle containment solution because there are typically cable trays and other obstructions above the hot aisle. It is very difficult to implement if there is not a return plenum.

The aluminum channel is the heart of the aisle containment system. The proprietary combination of slotted and threaded sides has proven incredibly versatile for use in aisle containment ceiling panels,aisle containment vertical panels, aisle containment walls, aisle containment doors and more. There are several versions of the channel to meet any aisle containment design criteria or specification.

Cool Shield channels are constructed of high-quality 6063 aluminum alloy with a durable two-step anodization process. Available in clear, black, or powder coated in custom colors. Standard brackets are manufactured with 11-gauge galvanized steel for superior strength.

Cool Shield offers both flexible aisle containment strip and aisle containment panel solutions that comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 75 standards. Our standard polycarbonate and strip materials feature ASTM International E-84 Class A ratings. We also offer FM 4910-approved solid panels in clear and opaque finishes.

Sliding and hinged doors for aisle containment are fabricated with post-formed steel frames for maximum sturdiness and performance. Hardware such as hinges, rollers and handles provide lasting functionality. Doors are designed to meet applicable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Our aisle containment accessories including blanking panels, foam strips and cable covers feature UL94-V0, the highest rating available for this type material.

A hot cold aisle containment rendering showing the effective strip aisle containment doors in a data center

Hot & Cold Aisle Containment Doors

Aisle containment doors effectively seal the entrance of the server aisle. There are a variety of doors to choose from including hinged, sliding and strip doors. Every Aisle Containment Door that Data Center Resources manufacturers is completely customizable in width and height based on the server row and room requirements.

An aisle containment rendering using the new deluxe sliding door
Single hinged containment door
Hot cold aisle containment panel walls

Hot & Cold Aisle Containment Panels

Aisle containment panels consist of a series of connected and framed twin wall polycarbonate material. Twin wall polycarbonate is incredibly effective in containing hot or cold air as well as translucent, allowing data center managers to monitor the interior of their aisle without breaking the containment seal. The panels can be configured as static or sliding if access behind the panels is required.

Sliding vertical aisle containment panels above server racks in a data center
Fixed vertical aisle containment panels above server racks
Clear Hot Cold Aisle containment ceiling strips

Hot & Cold Aisle Containment Strips

Aisle containment strips are flexible by nature. E84 Strips offer a cost-effective solution for containing air in data centers where temperature control is a requirement. Strips can be ordered and cut to size at the factory or on-site depending on the level of customization required. Our superior performing strips are built specifically for the data center environment where extreme conditions could possibly cause standard plastics to deform or yellow.

Above server row aisle containment strip curtains.
Black hot cold aisle containment ceiling panels in data center server row

Hot & Cold Aisle Containment Ceiling Panels

Aisle containment ceiling panels are required when a containment system cannot be suspended from a drop ceiling or a self supported containment option is required. Solid panels are typically made from a twin wall polycarbonate, allowing light through the material all the while containing hot or cold air in the aisle.

Data Center server row rendering with thermal drop aisle containment panels
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