Cooling Strategies to Manage Rising Seasonal Temperatures

This summer’s heatwaves caused deaths and other social impacts – and caused data center outages. Cooling strategies can help manage the impact of rising temperatures. (Photo: Rich Miller)









































































































































































































In this edition of Industry Voices, Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv, discusses short- and long-term cooling strategies to help your data center manage increasing seasonal temperatures.

cooling

Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv

Record heat made headlines around the world this year — and raised concerns about the way forward for data centers. During the summer, abnormally high 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.

Heat waves have caused deaths and other social impacts – and cut off data centers in the UK as temperatures reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). In addition, heat waves have reduced power production in France and concerns about water use in drought-stricken regions of the United States, both of which can affect data centers. Experts say Europe is particularly vulnerable to heat waves in the coming years.

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Pre-planning for warming

As data center operators prepare for a hotter future, it is important to look at areas experienced in dealing with extreme heat, as well as taking advantage of newer technologies.

Based on our global experience, we recommend the following:

  • Evaluate the layout of the building’s roof area with heat rejection and the design of data center infrastructures to withstand higher heat loads and higher ambient temperatures, considering CFD analysis of appropriate air distribution to optimize equipment placement on the roof.
  • Consider alternatives to conventional cooling systems, including waterless cooling and free evaporative cooling systems. These options are designed to provide reliability and efficiency at elevated temperatures.
  • Design a data hall for higher operating temperatures to reduce variation in the external environment for optimal capacity planning.
  • Review the data center cooling system regularly for proper operation, and to ensure that it continues to meet design capacity needs.
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short term action plan

Looking at the forecast, high temperatures are likely to return sooner rather than later. Here are two actions you can take during extreme heat conditions to protect your data center equipment:

Run as many units as possible. As temperatures rise, it is essential to keep the refrigerant pressure as low as possible so that there is no risk of trips under high pressure. You can do this by running as many cooling units as possible, depending on the data hall load, to reduce the load on each individual unit. Normally, the organization will operate all redundant units. If the IT load is not 100%, run enough units to distribute each cooling unit evenly. This practice also provides a more efficient operating point.

Schedule preventive maintenance. If you don’t already have a plan, it’s time to contact your service provider to create one. If you already have a maintenance plan, check it with your service provider to make sure it’s ready when temperatures rise. Two keys to success:

  • Clean the condenser coils. The lack of proper and regular cleaning of the condenser coil can lead to a decrease in the total thermal unit capacity more than the ambient temperature itself. Clean the coils frequently during pollen, dust, and cottonwood seasons as well as before warm months. Compressor-based (DX) units typically require quarterly or more frequent cleaning of the condenser coils.
  • Check refrigerant charge levels. If levels are too low or out of range, the system will not provide design capacity and compressors may overheat. Proper maintenance helps ensure that the system is operating efficiently.
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By adopting these short- and long-term strategies, you can improve the reliability and performance of your IT infrastructure today and in the future as we face the continuing effects of rising temperatures.

Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv where he is a charter member of “Gang of Cool”, a team of Vertiv thermal management experts committed to sharing their expertise with the industry to improve the efficiency and reliability of data center and edge cooling. Contact Vertiv to find out more.

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