FabraCraft Designs Hot Aisle Enclosure for Corporate Customer

FabraCraft Designs Hot Aisle Enclosure for a Corporate Customer

A hot aisle enclosure is an effective way to protect expensive computer systems in a data center. A data center requires the management of cold air and hot air flow patterns in order to control temperature zones that prevent the overheating of servers and server racks. Which to use, or a combination of both, hot and cold aisle containment solutions are based upon the layout of a data center design.

Our Hot Aisle Enclosure Design

FabraCraft uses this example to explain how one customer utilized a hot aisle containment system for new server units bought to run productivity and administration applications at its corporate site.

Hot aisle soft wall panel enclosure

This data center configuration is a hot aisle soft panel enclosure. It was designed to remove the hot air that was being emitted from new, high powered IBM servers set into two server cabinets. Since there are only two units that emitted hot air, they were placed side by side with the back of the server cabinet facing the wall with enough space for air to circulate. Using this layout takes advantage of the return air ducts already in place within a large, open office area. Creating the enclosure in this area also made the air flow management plan more cost efficient and quicker to implement.

Cold Air is Drawn In, Hot Air is Forced Out

The customer added new cold air conditioning ducts near the front of the server cabinet as a means to send cold air directly to the front of the cabinets where the cold air was drawn into the cabinets. This cooled the servers and forced the hot air out the back of the server cabinets and into the enclosure, which is now considered a ‘hot aisle’. The hot air that is trapped in the enclosure is pulled into the return ducts and away from the server units.

If you want to add cold air containment to a configuration like this, soft panels would be positioned at least three feet in front of the cabinets to create an effective ‘cold aisle’ enclosure.

How We Designed a Custom Mounting System

Next, we worked with our client to determine which support system would work best for this data center design. The customer did not want to attach a bracket support system to the T-bars of their drop ceiling, so a Unistrut layout was attached to the joists between the structural ceiling and the drop ceiling panels. This Unistrut support member was bolted to the joists of the facility, where a suspension rod breached through the drop ceiling and attached to the panel and corner brackets.

Unistrut joist for custom mounting system Suspension rod with angle track for custom mounting system

Clear soft panels were easy to attach to the panel brackets which created the enclosure. The clear panels hung from the ceiling to the floor between the cabinets, from the ceiling to the top of the cabinets, and strip curtains were added on one side to use as an entryway.

Clear data center strip door curtain Clear soft wall panels for data center


An Effective Means of Drawing in Cooled Air and Removing Hot Air in a Data Center Enclosure

The hot air that came into the enclosure was minimal most of the time, but was it is still a necessary measure to prevent overheating of the server units. This hot air containment system provided overheating protection for the high-powered equipment, and was a requirement before IBM would sign off on the purchase and installation of the new server racks with this corporate client.

Data Center Design Took Into Account Previously Installed Fire Safety Measures

Another determining factor for the location of the enclosure layout and the bracket support system was that there was a previously installed gas sprayer system in the entire room as a means for extinguishing a fire. A gas is pumped into the room when the temperature hits 120 degrees (signaling a fire) and replaces the oxygen in the room with gas, thus depriving the room with air. The data center enclosure has a separate gas nozzle inside the area which will activate as well. If the room hits 130 degrees, it is considered an out of control fire and the water sprinklers would then become engaged. Since water sprinklers would ruin all the computer equipment in the room, the gas is used as a means to attempt to put out a fire before water is used.

This data center enclosure is 6 ft x 12 ft in size and was the most economical, but still effective solution for the customer. The decision to buy was based on this layout being scalable for future expansion, and the efficient but effective layout solution which fit their existing air flow configuration. The close locations of the two companies in Elk Grove Village, IL also made the design and installation fast and worry free.

To learn more about data center design for corporate or administrative offices, contact a FabraCraft representative today.

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