What to Consider When Designing a Small Server Room - Data Center Enclosure

What to Consider When Designing a Small Server Room

Hot and cold aisle containment within data center design.If you’re designing a small server room, the challenges of the design are even more critical than with larger server rooms. You may have a lot of technology and equipment packed into a small space, which makes it even more critical that the equipment is protected and that air containment/airflow is at its optimal efficiency.

Optimal efficiency means that the enclosure system you design should provide airflow and temperature control for either end aisle containment or hot/cold aisle containment. Because of the smaller size of the server room, you will need to consider a few different things.

First, the Benefits of Enclosures and Containment.

Before you start designing the server room, it can be helpful to understand the benefits of proper airflow management and containment. Beyond increasing the lifespan of your server room equipment, implementing hot or cold aisle containment systems can contain a host of benefits, including:

  • Can decrease energy costs if designed for optimum efficiency.
  • Can protect your servers from dust and other debris in the air.
  • Can enhance the comfort for employees due to server and equipment separation from the general work area.

Hot vs. Cold Aisle Containment

Hot aisle containment allows warm air to rise from inside the enclosure, directing the air upward and out of the enclosure. Cold aisle containment uses panels to create a barrier that allows internal cooled air supply to collect inside a data center aisle, then stay contained inside aisles at the front of the server cabinets.

There are many different ways in which a data center can be designed. A data center can have cold aisle or hot aisle containment. In some cases, they can have both. In the simplest least expensive of scenarios, curtains are used so that the cold, then warmed air goes through the server racks and finds its way out. The server rooms can also be air conditioned at a very high level with a computer room air conditioner, with the cold air input on the floor and warm air return on the ceiling. However, the most effective server room has an enclosed cold aisles with doors. The only way cold air can exit the aisle is through the server racks. Depending on your existing duct work configuration, and where your input and returns are located, an HVAC professional may need to better position the existing duct work for more efficiency in your server room.

In the layout of a server room, all server racks are oriented to have both intake sides facing into a cold aisle or both exhaust sides facing into a warm aisle. A cool aisle provides cold air to the intake sides of all the servers in that aisle, while the warm air exhausts simultaneously. A warm enclosed aisle would exhaust the warmed air from the exhaust side of the servers via duct work back to the air conditioner (CRAC) to be cooled and returned to the cold aisles.

Whichever one you choose will depend upon what your physical layout and existing air distribution and return situation is. For more information about designing server rooms with cold or hot aisle containment, feel free to contact FabraCraft at any time.

Soft Walls or Rigid Panels: Which is Right for Your Server Room?

Another thing you’ll need to consider is whether you want to use flexible or rigid barriers in your server room. Soft wall barriers control airflow and help maintain temperature within server rooms, which protects servers from overheating. These curtain walls are a quick and easy way to provide hot and cold aisle containment in your server room. The vinyl panels attach to pegs that are built into lightweight bracket systems, which clip onto vanes in a dropped ceiling or can be mounted with fasteners to most any ceiling.

Rigid walls, on the other hand, are usually used to create a more permanent enclosure and are more often used in larger spaces. Rigid walls also control airflow and help maintain temperatures. The panels are made from polycarbonate, and offer a modern looking design, providing the most airtight enclosure option to control temperature zones. Rigid walls do a great job containing and separating cool air input from warm air exhaust. Rigid panels are mounted to server racks with supported brackets or are attached to a structural supported bracket system.

Because you’re working on a smaller server room, not one in a large space, you may want to consider soft walls over rigid panels, as they are more forgiving when you place equipment in a tight space. Moving equipment in a rigid wall environment may require removing the panels temporarily.

Creating an optimal design for a small server room is critical for the longevity of your equipment as well as ideal server performance. Consult with airflow and server room cooling experts to determine the needs for your server room. Well informed HVAC professionals can also help you if you specify the set point that you want.

To learn more about how you can create a small server room cooling design, contact the professionals at FabraCraft today. We’d be happy to help you design something that works optimally for your facility.

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