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a datacentre. The first would be to use an air handling unit. This would represent a cost-effective solution if the overall building uses a central air handling plant. The air handling unit effectively takes air from outside the building, reduces the temperature to the level required, and delivers the cool air directly to the datacentre. If the external air temperature is below 12˚C – as is often the case in the UK – then the air handling unit itself effectively becomes a free cooling system, any mechanical cooling required to reduce the air temperature can be de-energised as it is simply not needed.

“Failing to take

into account all the risk factors could expose businesses to system failure.”

or renovation project where space is limited? Finally, what existing cooling system is the building connected to? All these factors must be considered before commissioning a system.


CHOICE Given the high energy consumption often associated with datacentre cooling, getting the cooling system spot on during the specification and installation stage can save the end-user enormous amounts of money in the long run. Instead of straightaway choosing a mechanical chiller-based cooling system, I would recommend considering a solution that incorporates ‘free cooling’. Free cooling is especially effective in the UK given the cooler environment, as the technology works by using lower ambient air temperatures to chill the process water, instead of solely relying on mechanical cooling from a chiller.

There are three types of free cooling solution that would benefit

A second option would be to invest in an integrated system that uses both a free cooling coil and a chiller unit to provide the cooling. This option would prove useful to those installations where available footprint to support cooling systems is limited, such as when datacentres are installed or located within existing buildings rather than new builds. Universities are a classic example, where many older buildings are often repurposed to accommodate growing electrical and digital infrastructure across campuses. With an integrated system, end-users are able to achieve the energy efficiency benefits of free cooling, supported by a chiller when the external air temperature becomes too warm for the free cooling coil to deliver the level required. However, this does mean that mechanical cooling (i.e the chiller) will be needed at times, therefore the overall efficiency rating is not as high as if a fully independent free cooling coil were to be used.

A fully independent free cooling coil is therefore undoubtedly the most energy efficient way of achieving the optimum working environment for a datacentre. However, the one drawback that may prevent it being installed in some circumstances is the size. An independent free cooling coil is a large piece of plant, and as such, requires a significant amount of floor space to be installed. If a datacentre housing is being designed from the outset, it will definitely pay to accommodate this extra floor

space in the long run during the design stage, given the potential energy savings on offer. Yet, it will also unfortunately rule it out as a potential cooling solution for those datacentre installations where space is at a premium.


END-USER Where contractors can really get ahead of the competition and ensure they deliver the most appropriate solution possible for their customers is to undertake a provisional energy analysis programme prior to installation. This involves comparing existing energy consumption (where applicable) with projected consumption of the three varying cooling solutions on offer. The best way to accurately undertake an energy analysis program is to work closely with a specialist temperature control solutions manufacturer – such as ICS Cool Energy – as they will be able to provide an extra level of knowledge and insight to ensure that the most appropriate system is chosen for the customer.

FINAL THOUGHTS Ultimately, a businesses’ datacentre

is the heart of its operations and must be kept running at all costs. Cooling is absolutely critical to maintaining the optimum operational environment and avoiding overheating. However, overly focusing on achieving the correct temperature can leave businesses exposed to unnecessarily high running costs.

To really achieve the best combination of temperature control, efficiency, security and reliability, an all- encompassing approach – inclusive of the contractor, manufacturer and end-user – is the best course of action. Failing to take into account all the risk factors could expose businesses to dangerous downtime, or worse system failure. Invest in a trusted temperature control partner, such as ICS Cool Energy, and you’ll be able to help your customers reap the long terms rewards of successful datacentre management. DATACENTRE MANAGEMENT | 21

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