Server Room Cooling: Essential Strategies for Optimal Performance

Data, a crucial ingredient in the operational health of many businesses today, flows like lifeblood, primarily propelled by the server room, the facility analogous to a human heart. Server rooms, however, house a range of substantial cooling requirements, managed by a network of energy-efficient air conditioners, ventilation systems, and insulated ducts. Moreover, these areas must be consistently under the watch of a thermostat, ensuring to maintain the ideal temperature range to prevent the overheating of servers. If these requirements are not met or if there’s a lack of power to effectively run these cooling systems, servers can overheat, behaving like an overworked heart. Such an instance can cause major productivity losses for your business, and in the worst-case scenarios, it can lead to the destruction of valuable equipment and data, crippling the company’s information flow. Fortunately, these risks can be avoided by understanding the importance of cooling for these technological buildings, tuning the efficiency of each cooling component, following specific guidelines, and adhering to regular maintenance.

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Server Room Cooling Requirements

Server rooms function as a housing capacity for delicate and sensitive hardware – a delicate environment that can be damaged easily if exposed to extreme temperatures. Servers must be fed a constant stream of cool air, provided by energy-efficient air conditioners since they generate a substantial amount of heat which can damage their internal components. Designing your room with proper insulation, ventilation, and systems like separate ducts to remove this heat before it builds up is one of the ways to prevent hazardous conditions. If you underestimate the importance of these precautions, you might be causing something risky for your business, including equipment failure and even fire. Preventive maintenance, regular monitoring, and strict adherence to guidelines can serve as an effective solution to each of these potential problems.

Intel suggests a number of criteria for your server room to meet to reduce the risk of overheating. They recommend you choose a windowless room with ceilings that are at least nine feet tall and enough space to house any future servers you may add. To maximize your cooling capabilities, they suggest you lay out your servers in hot-cold aisles, so that each aisle is dedicated to feeding servers cold air or to removing their exhaust, facilitating servers to cool down each other. Intel further emphasizes the importance of having redundant cooling capacity for your server room and not relying solely on the cooling facilities of your building.

In the process of setting up your own server room, you’ll want to remember that carefully considering a series of factors holds immense importance.

  • The number of server racks and cabinets you wish to install
  • How you intend to cool the room and monitor its temperature
  • Whether the room is insulated and if it is close to sources of heat
  • How many people will be working in the room
  • What fire control measures exist for the server room
  • The type of lighting you intend to use and how much heat this will contribute

What Are Some Server Room Cooling Best Practices?

Here are some questions you may ask when implementing best practices for your server room, focusing particularly on the importance of managing and maintaining cooling systems.

Is It Possible to Cool a Server Room Without Air Conditioning?

Being cognizant of the budget and constraints, some business owners don’t install a dedicated air conditioner for their server room. Although it can be challenging, it’s entirely possible to keep a server room at the ideal temperature without air conditioning by using fans if it’s properly ventilated and doesn’t house too many servers. In any case, having a network of thermostats installed as part of a monitoring system becomes crucial to warn you if the room gets too hot, providing vital feedback information.

1. What Kind of Server Room Air Conditioner Sizing Requirements Do I Need to Be Aware Of?

To ensure optimal efficiency and power, you’ll need to calculate how many BTUs your server room will generate when designing its cooling system and making sure its capacity is adequate for your needs. By doing so, you can ensure that units and systems work in harmony, effectively maintaining the server room environment.

Calculating the number of BTUs your server room will generate requires some careful computation. The first step is to calculate the surface area of the room and multiply it by 337. Add 400 BTUs for every employee you expect to work in your server room. Multiply the wattage of your lighting by 4.25 and that of your equipment by 3.5 to determine the BTUs it will emit. If you are in the northern hemisphere, you can also multiply the surface areas of south-facing windows by 870 and north-facing windows by 165, and by another 1.5 if there aren’t any blinds for them.

2. What’s the Best Server Room Temperature?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers suggests maintaining a particular temperature range for server rooms, ideally between 77 ℉ to 81 ℉. Along with temperature, the importance of maintaining relative humidity in your server room must not be undermined. It should be kept between 40% to 50%, or your room could generate condensation if there is too much moisture or static electricity if there is too little.

3. Why You Need Server Room Exhaust Vents

Exhaust vents, ventilating ducts, and high-efficiency air conditioners can efficiently move warm air out of your server room. They achieve this by using the natural physics of airflow to your advantage. Warm air from your server room will rise through the vent as the cold air you pump in forces it out.

How to Cool Down a Server Room If It DOES Get Too Hot

If your server room constantly overheats, it’s advisable to look out for any one of the following factors that could be causing it to do so:

  • Server cabinets are too close together or not arranged in hot-cold aisles.
  • Spaces between server racks are trapping hot air. Consider installing blanking panels to prevent this.
  • Ambient humidity is too high or too low.
  • If your cables are cluttered, consider organizing them so they trap less heat.
  • Remove any unnecessary objects you have stored in your server room to remove heat.
  • You may require a portable AC if your server room still gets too hot after organizing it.

Server equipment can demonstrate quite some resilience when operating in higher temperatures, but it can quickly deteriorate if you aren’t careful. This can escalate the likelihood of a catastrophic failure, which can prove to be far more costly to your business than investing in an adequate cooling system. Working with a team of professionals to determine the best way to cool it is a prudent choice. The benefits of doing this can have a big effect on your entire business, which you could begin to experience immediately.