Hot spots are a problem faced by all data centers. But hot spots aren’t a problem you fix once and then forget about: hot spots are a constant battle between you and the outside world. Fighting back against hot spots requires constant auditing. Today, we’re going to explain some of the best ways to reduce hot spots by auditing your room on an ongoing basis.
Understand how most hot spots are caused
Your first task is to have a better understanding of data center hot spots. In an ideal situation, all of the hot air in your data center rises and then passes through the cooling system to create a perfect, 100% efficient loop. Heat rises and, ideally, is sucked into your cooling system, which cools the air before recirculating it.
In reality, your data center will develop certain hot spots where hot air tends to collect. Surprisingly, many data center hot spots are caused by excess cooling capacity. When all of these cooling units are running at the same time, it creates excess airflow in your data center. That excess airflow then creates hotspots. Instead of cool air being pushed past your servers and then staying by your servers, that air is pushed up and away from the servers. Meanwhile, that same cycle causes warm air to flow over the racks and across your equipment.
Basically, adding more cooling to your data center creates more airflow, and airflow creates hotspots.
All hotspots are caused by an inefficiency point at some point in your data center. That’s a good thing: it means your hotspot problem is fixable.
Fixing your hot spots with infrastructure repairs and replacements
When data center managers find hotspots, they’ll typically do some combination of infrastructure improvements, including:
- Blanking panels
- Covering holes in the floor
- Any type of containment
These things help. But you’ll probably still find hotspots after installing infrastructure improvements. So you might be tempted to buy more cooling equipment or turn on more cooling units. As mentioned above, this can actually create more hotspots.
Finding a more permanent solution by reducing bypass airflow
Originally, data center operators thought that hotspots were caused by inefficient air cooling or densely-compacted servers. Today, we know that most hotspots are caused by excess airflow. Uncontrolled cooling can cause excessive data center heat loads. Countering this airflow is an art form.
You can counter this airflow using many different strategies. One popular strategy was created by IBM’s Robert Sullivan in 1992. Sullivan recommended that server owners create hot aisle and cold aisle cabinets, where cabinets are placed so the front of one cabinet never faces the back of another. This simple but effective layout creates alternating rows of cold and hot air.
Another popular strategy is one we mentioned above: containment. By locking off hot parts of your data center, and containing them within a space, you can maximize cost-efficient cooling. Some people close off the hot and cold aisles or even duct the hot return air away from the cabinets.
Air restrictors are yet another option. Remember: even the smallest openings and air gaps can have a significant impact on data center cooling.
Finally, consider turning up the heat to reduce airflow problems. That’s right: many people run their data centers at below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In reality, most data suggests data centers should be run between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consider, for example, that Google runs its data centers at 80 degrees F – and they’re famous for their energy-efficient data centers. Additionally, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a recommended maximum of 80.6 degrees F and allowable maximum of 95 degrees F.
By following these strategies, you can increase data center operations performance while also saving energy and reducing overhead expenses.
Consider hiring a regular audit service
Audit services take an enormous load off your back. They help you continuously tweak your data center by pointing out problem spots. By hiring a regular audit service, you can be notified of potential problems before they become a major issue. That means you can focus on the things that matter while letting an audit service handle the hot spots.
Sealco provides world-class data center cleaning, maintenance, and repair services. We can provide a customized quote that provides a packaged solution for your unique data center. Whether you need regular hot spot audits or routine cleaning, Sealco has 30 years of experience providing cleaning and containment services.
Current service areas include Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Houston. Request a quote today!