JESSUP, Md., Feb. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- At Tate, we understand the variety of options available to facilitate hot and cold aisle containment in your data center. Recent studies indicate as much as 50% of airflow within a data center is being wasted, and containment is the process of recapturing up to 90% of that lost efficiency, so getting the containment right is critical. But cost, efficiency, and ROI all need to be balanced, so the question becomes, how much containment is enough for your facility?
While it would be easier for everyone if there were a "right" answer, the truth is that the answer is going to depend on the density of your IT load, your goals for improving efficiency, and your required return on investment.
Your first level of containment is preparatory, rather than equipment based, and starts by making sure the mechanical system itself is configured correctly, and that both the room and IT racks are containment-ready. What does containment-ready mean? Simply put, you need to ensure that the supply and return should be segregated and separated into plenums, all floor penetrations have been properly sealed, and that blanking panels and brushes have been utilized to create a barrier between the front and rear of each rack. Making your data center containment-ready is an often overlooked but critical part of the process and, without this step, your containment system will be like a house with open windows – full of built-in leaks and dealing with efficiency issues right out of the gate. In fact, auditing your data center to ensure it's containment-ready can recaptures up to 15% of the lost efficiency in your system all on its own, and has a short to medium return on investment depending on your loads.
The next level of containment is what Tate calls virtual containment, and it can arguably have the largest impact on the overall efficiency of your mechanical system. Virtual containment involves the placement of directional airflow panels in the floor along with the installation of containment doors to both ends of the aisle. Our testing has shown that enclosing the ends of the aisle and utilizing directional airflow panels achieves approximately 80% of the potential efficiency of a full hot aisle implementation – without the addition of additional containment above the rack. This step has a short return in low-density environments, and an immediate return in medium-to-high density environments.
Finally, if needed, you can add physical containment above the racks as well – normally either horizontal ceilings between cold aisle racks, or a vertical partition system which encloses the hot aisle. This step yields a fully contained mechanical system that will recapture 90% of the potential efficiency within the mechanical system. This 10% improvement over doors alone comes at a cost, and the return on this investment is generally shorter in medium to high-density environments.
As you can see, containment is not a fixed approach, and different efficiencies can be achieved through varying levels of optimization providing different rates of return. When you're ready to begin your next data center project, let Tate's in-house data center engineering team partner with you to create a custom containment solution that balances density, efficiency, and return on investment to ensure you have the right amount of containment in your facility.