Hot and Cold Aisles in Your Data Center: What to Know

Hot and Cold Aisles in Your Data Center: What to Know

When constructing and designing a data center, it’s important to know the best options to ensure efficiency, especially when it comes to choosing hot or cold aisle containment. You’ll want to consider energy efficiency, the climate you live in, how much infrastructure you will be putting into the center, and other aspects of the facility. Learning the differences between cold and hot aisle containment is the first step in deciding which one is the right choice for your data center.

Cold Aisle Data Center Airflow Containment

Airflow Patterns

Cold aisles work by efficiently directing cold air to the front of the servers, where it is pulled through the servers into a warm aisle or a space near a warm air return to be re-cooled. Cold aisle containment is ideal for cooling specific parts of the room, such as where the servers are installed, which can save a lot of energy.

In a cold aisle containment setup, the server cabinets are placed with the heat-generating backs to the outside of the enclosure, and the cooled air is contained at the front of the server racks. Mounted panels or doors create an enclosure filled with cooled air. By containing the cooled air at the front of the server rack, there is less chance for overheating. When using data center doors or curtain/panels in your aisles, you’ll be able to count on the cold and hot air staying separated.

Hot Aisle Data Center Airflow Containment

Hot Aisle airflow patterns

With hot aisle containment in your data center, the servers are positioned not with their backs to the outside of the enclosure, but back-to-back. This setup creates an aisle between the servers where heat can escape. With hot aisles, the hot air is efficiently captured and channeled back to the computer room air conditioning, or CRAC, system. This setup also prevents “overcooling” of areas, because it minimizes the short-cycling of cooler air. In turn, this model also allows you to use less air conditioning.

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Why You Need Aisle Containment

Whether you ultimately decide to implement hot or cold aisle containment, one thing is for sure: Containment of the different temperatures is essential. You’ll be able to tell if your returns are not positioned properly by first observing them, and second by looking for hot or cold spots. If there are hot or cold spots, the CFM (cubic feet per minute) airflow may need to be adjusted. An HVAC professional may be needed to help you find out how much CFM your cooling unit is putting out and adjust the airflow output. Different servers are rated with different CFMs, and will require different volumes of air for optimal efficiency.  If these hot or cold spots cannot be controlled by a CFM adjustment, Hot or Cold Aisle Containment is your best option.

Aisle containment in data centers is essential for any organization or business that have a substantial amount of servers, because in addition to keeping your equipment running at its peak performance levels, containment can help you save on your energy bills—as much as 50 percent!

When you are making updates to your data center, or you’re starting to build yours from the ground up, it’s a perfect time to consider data center and building security. Check and double check things like keyed access to the room (versus it being open and available for anyone to access) and adjust accordingly.

To learn more about hot and cold aisle containment, contact FabraCraft today.

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