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Why Air Conditioning in Server Rooms is Vital

Published by Lee Kelly on 07 October 2019

Whatever the size and scale of your server room, it’s vital to keep it at the right temperature to protect the equipment within it. Servers generate a lot of heat, and if the environment becomes too warm, you could experience major issues. From periods of downtime to significant damage, or even the outbreak of a fire, you could seriously regret allowing your server room to overheat.

It’s crucial that you:

  • Understand the dangers of overheating
  • Monitor server rooms to prevent overheating from occurring in the first place
  • Install precision datacentre cooling equipment
  • Be prepared for a power outage
  • Ensure there is adequate airflow and ventilation
  • Monitor and control humidity levels

Here’s what you need to be aware of, and what you need to do to preserve the field life of your servers and avoid running into problems.

The Dangers of Overheating

If servers become too hot, there is an increased risk for system faults, random reboots, crashing, and poor performance. Hardware failures, permanent damage to hard drives, hardware and servers, and the complete breakdown of equipment could also occur. And, it’s worrying to know that problems can occur with server components months after an incident of overheating has occurred.

The result of overheated servers could be anything from a slowdown in productivity to operations ceasing altogether, or a permanent loss of data. An overheated server room could even result in melted hardware or the outbreak of a fire. Our range of APC and Daikin air conditioning will help keep your server rooms and Data Centres at the optimal temperature.

Critical Power Supplies - Thermal image from a site that shows the heat on some of the cables into the racks

Monitor Server Rooms

You will need to install dedicated temperature, environment and humidity monitors in your server room to keep track of the conditions. Monitors with options for remote access and management are best, so the relevant member of staff will be made aware of a problem immediately, wherever they are. They can then take the necessary steps to turn off the hardware as soon as possible to prevent damage.

The Best Monitors for the Job

Acting to prevent an incident is always better than trying to find a cure after the event. That’s why you need one of the best monitors on the market from a manufacturer such as Avtech, APC Cooling Solutions, or ServersCheck.

Avtech monitoring equipment, environmental sensors, and software help prevent damage to equipment by detecting specific conditions such as water leakage, fire, airflow, and more. An award-winning company, Avtech has provided equipment and software to the likes of the US government and military.

Using wireless sensor technology, The Avtech Room Alert monitors computer room temperature, humidity, power, room entry and more, in real-time. Certain models include a built-in UPS so the monitor will still send alerts even in the event of a loss in power supply. You can easily add more sensors to customise the Room Alert for your unique needs.

APC by Schneider Electric’s products are backed by over 100 awards, and their line-up includes UPS, industrial cooling, racks, KVMs, PDUs, and software. Their product range for monitoring environmental conditions includes APC NetBotz Rack Monitors, Sensor Pods, Camera Pods, Security Cameras and Room Monitors.

Among the best, the APC NetBotz room monitor 455 features an integrated camera and sensors for temperature, humidity, airflow, dew point, and camera motion. The monitor supports three additional external camera pods, two sensor pods, and up to 16 Universal Sensors so you can be confident that you have taken all the steps you can to prevent damage to your servers.

ServersCheck is an IT specialist with a wide range of different solutions for facilities monitoring. Their modular products are specially designed to accommodate all size projects.

ServersCheck Multi-Sensor and Hub monitors everything a sensor box needs to track in a server room. With 10 sensor metrics, it can monitor temperature, humidity, dew point, shock, sound, motion, power failure, luminosity, smoke, and water leaks. It includes eight dry contact inputs for legacy sensors and equipment, four for third-party equipment such as HVAC units and generators, and last but not least, it acts as a sensor hub, since you can expand it with five sensors.

How to Implement Effective Server Room Cooling

The ideal temperature for a server room is between 20 and 24ºC. Anywhere over 30 is dangerous.

You can maintain that temperature by investing in a cost-effective, high-performance cooling system. You need air conditioning that will keep the cold air in circulation and convert and recycle the warm air that the servers generate. Choose wall-mounted cooling systems, or air conditioning units placed in the floor or ceiling which funnel air from below or above. You can also use portable air conditioners which operate as dehumidifiers, actively removing moisture from the air.

Be Prepared for a Power Outage

IT equipment is often backed up by uninterruptible power supplies, but that’s not always the case for cooling systems in server rooms. But with the new data centre design trends that are becoming more and more popular, the air temperature is likely to rise quite quickly in the event of a power outage. You should, therefore, have a contingency plan in place. Consider a portable A/C unit powered by a separate source from the mainframe system. Or, connect your cooling system to a UPS or backup generator so you have a backup system in place should you need it.
Critical Power Supplies - Riello MPW Modular UPS

Facilitating Airflow, Ventilation and Humidity Control

In addition to temperature, there are other things you need to consider to satisfy your server’s climate needs. Adequate ventilation and controlled, constant airflow is important to maximise the funnelled air from the air conditioning unit.

Improve airflow management with blanking panels which can help enhance air circulation around the floor of the room, and baffles and raised castors. You also need to consider humidity because servers need low humidity levels to prevent moisture damage. Vented floor tiles and grilles will help prevent a room from becoming too humid. Remember that prevention is better than cure and investing in the right monitoring equipment will enable you to take pre-emptive action before any damage is done.

Tips:

  • Use shielding insulation on cables to help prevent overheating.
  • Be aware of dryness; overly dry server rooms can lead to problems with static electricity which can damage equipment.
  • Once installed, make sure to keep server room cooling equipment well-maintained.

Air conditioning and adequate ventilation in server rooms are vital to maximise your equipment’s uptime and prevent major issues with electrical equipment. Just as important is the right monitor to make you aware of a potential problem immediately so you can take steps to lower the room temperature, fast. To discuss the right monitor for you, give us a call today on 0800 978 8988. Or, send us an email, and we’ll get back to you.