Data Center Cooling: How to Cool a Data Center


Data centers are locations in which all the computation, data storage, and network are handled. It’s a massive hardware hub that handles a lot of software processes that, from the outside, appear to be completely software-related. The simplest explanation would be to say that it’s a facility that centralizes an organization’s shared IT operations.

Seeing as how these hardware capacities are quite impressive, the energy that they require is simply massive. According to some studies, data centers consume as much as 100 times more energy than a standard office space. Now, energy produces heat and in order not to overheat and keep working properly, good data center cooling is required. Still, how is this achieved? Let’s find out!

Benefits of Proper Data Center Cooling

Now, before we proceed to talk about how data center cooling works, we must understand why this matters so much.

  • Overheating causes downtime. The majority of servers have a defense mechanism that shuts them down at the critical temperature. This is done to protect the hardware but will make the hardware unusable for the time being. So, proper cooling prolongs a server’s period without a shutdown, thus reducing overheating.
  • Second, you protect the equipment. Sure, it will shut down when the temperature reaches a critical point but what if this is something that happens regularly? Well, the wear-and-tear effect gets strongly enhanced, which leads to a quicker deterioration of the equipment in question.
  • Third, the maintenance of the data center becomes a lot easier. With less accumulative damage, it’s a lot easier to take care of the equipment in the data center. Having the best data center cooling will certainly make a world of difference in this regard.

These three can be brought down to two crucial concepts – improving service and reducing expenses.

Types of Data Center Cooling 

There are different types of data center cooling, ranging from using something as conventional as liquid cooling, all the way to pumped refrigerant, or hot/cold aisle arrangement.

So, in this segment, we’ll focus on two different aspects of data center cooling. First, we’ll talk about the cooling systems. Second, we’ll briefly reflect on the concept of data center organization.

Types of Data Center Cooling systems 

Every cooling system has its advantages and downsides, which is why it’s important you familiarize yourself with all of them before making a choice.

  • The use of a cooling tower system is essential in powerful data centers, seeing as how it enhances the concept of free cooling while negating some of its downsides. First of all, it’s minimalistic, seeing as how cooling towers take up space on the roof or side of the building and not within the actual premises where the data center is located. The problem with free cooling lies in the fact that there’s a risk that external pollution and moisture might enter the system, however, with sophisticated cooling towers this is not necessarily an issue.
  • Water cooling processes sometimes get a bad reputation, due to the amount of water needed in the process. The alternative air-cooled equipment, while not using as much water at the data center site, uses twice as much hp energy.  That energy has to be supplied by a power plant that will actually use more water to generate that electricity needed for the data center.  So by using the more energy efficient cooling towers total water consumption is reduced.

Lastly, you don’t have to be exclusive to a single method, especially if you need a bit more potent solution.

Organization for optimal cooling 

There are other data center cooling methods that you use in combination with a cooling system mentioned above, and one of them is the optimization of the layout.

  • Creating hot and cold aisles is one of the simplest ways to improve temperatures in data centers. Without separating them, the air in the center will be mixed, which lowers your efficient use of energy.
  • A proper rack placement can minimize heat circulation, which is why it’s considered to be an important data center cooling practice.
  • Other than this, cable organization is also important, seeing as how a huge bundle of cables may obstruct the airflow. 

As you can see, it’s all about the airflow, which is why packing hardware too tight might not be the best idea.


Data Center Cooling Design Challenges

One thing worth addressing is that cooling down a data center isn’t the only problem you’re facing. It’s doing it in an energy-efficient way. Let’s say you’ve just introduced a new AC unit to keep the room cool. The temperature is down, the efficiency is up, and you’ve just saved energy, right? Well, the new cooling unit is probably using more power (probably as much as you believe you’ve saved), which means that you’re back to square one. This is a problem that modern cooling towers can solve.

Another question worth addressing is the one of maintenance and corrosion. When talking about cooling towers’ use in various conditions (data centers aren’t always in ideal spots), the question of corrosion is a big one. Now, engineered plastic models can easily circumnavigate this issue without much trouble. They’re also not as temperature-sensitive as their traditional counterparts, which makes them ideal data center cooling systems.

Wrap Up

In the end, it’s important to understand that you’re planning for the long run. This means that temperature variations over different seasons must be taken into account, as well as changing conditions within your data center. Also, the longevity and maintenance of the data center cooling system you choose need to be considered.

Modern cooling towers made out of engineered plastic are your safest bet for longevity and maximum uptime, at the moment. To learn more about why this is the case, you might want to reach out to industry veterans and get a quote on a cooling tower solution.


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