Countless issues in data centers are the result of poor environmental controls. Depending on the size of a center, unexpected downtime can cost up to $5,600 per minute, according to Data Center Frontier. Fortunately, solutions that help monitor and regulate conditions in data centers promote system reliability and ensure uptime. By knowing the ideal conditions for data centers and how to maintain them, you will experience fewer preventable losses and possibly save thousands of dollars each year.
Ideal Conditions for Data Centers
Without temperature controls, data centers quickly reach warm temperatures that promote system crashes. As server’s exhaust hot air, HVAC units and other cooling systems in a building introduce cool air to keep temperatures down. In 2016, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommended maintaining temperatures in data centers between 64°F and 81°F to maximize the life of hardware and its uptime. However, it is best to follow a manufacturer’s recommendations.
While some in the industry once thought that maintaining data centers at or below 70°F was ideal, research shows that doing so may be a waste of energy and money. When equipment is too cool, it is at risk of high moisture levels and the formation of salt deposits on conductive filaments.
In general, the best standard operating temperature for a data center is the coolest recommended temperature. While maintaining a lower temperature may consume more energy, the temperatures in a facility will not rise as quickly if a cooling unit malfunctions.
High relative humidity levels in a data center can prove catastrophic as humidity can lead to condensation. In turn, condensation can lead to electrical shorts and corrosion. Just as too much humidity is harmful to electronic equipment, so are conditions that are too dry. The equipment in data centers with low relative humidity levels are at risk of electrostatic discharges that can cause irreparable damage.
The ideal relative humidity level for a data center is between 45 and 55 percent. The ASHRAE recommends a relative humidity level of 50 percent.
Data centers often encounter difficulties in regards to maintaining appropriate relative humidity levels when personnel neglect the fact that relative humidity is the percentage of water vapor content that the air holds at a given temperature. Therefore, warmer air tends to hold more water. For example, a 65-degree room with a relative humidity level of 50 percent will feel much different than an 80-degree room with the same humidity level. For this reason, data centers must also consider the dew point, the temperature at which water vapor reaches saturation at a given pressure. When the dew point and temperature are the same, water vapor turns into a liquid state.
While ambient temperatures and humidity levels are critical in maintaining system health in a data center, proper air circulation is just as important. As the warmer air from equipment passes through cooler air, it may create pressure differences in a room. These are most noticeable when you feel hot spots. When areas contain low pressure levels, they might not have good airflow. When this occurs, servers may circulate warm air and increase in temperature. Environmental controls, proper rack hygiene, aisle containment and using the right type of access floor help ensure good ventilation in a data center.
Climate Control for Data Centers
Creating the ideal conditions for data centers and maintaining them requires more than an HVAC system. The best solution involves climate control equipment that’s independent of a building’s comfort systems. Polygon offers permanent and temporary climate control for data centers that’s custom-built for your exact needs. The tailored solutions constantly monitor and control environmental conditions, and trigger alerts when they exceed thresholds. Furthermore, climate control equipment is more cost-effective than unplanned downtime, premature equipment failures and data losses.
Securing your data is a matter of securing the environment around your equipment. Talk to a specialist at Polygon today to learn more about how custom climate control solutions will maximize your operation’s uptime and the life of the electronics within it.