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.