Take advantage of the new ASHRAE guidelines

Take advantage of the new ASHRAE guidelines

Within the data center environment, it's important to maintain a proper temperature in order to make sure server equipment is running at optimum capacity. In addition, data center managers are tasked with keeping the costs of cooling down. After all, cooling systems are some of the biggest users of energy in the facility, so being able to minimize spending while maintaining maximum server functionality is of the utmost priority.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers is the body that creates the guidelines for safe and sustainable heating, cooling, temperature and humidity in buildings. The group's guidelines govern what the acceptable temperature and humidity on the data room floor would be for maximum energy savings. In reacting to current trends in data center cooling, the guidelines remain in flux. However, it's possible for data center managers to take advantage of these guidelines and get the most energy savings out of their server equipment.

Temperature and humidity: two sides of the same coin
The temperature necessary to keep servers running at maximum capacity is a subject of great debate among IT managers and the ASHRAE. The general consensus is that cooler is better, but the energy required to keep the server room cool comes at a price.

In order to help keep energy usage and costs low, according to Data Center Knowledge contributor Yevgeniy Sverdlik, the ASHRAE's technical committee focused on data centers, TC 9.9, has striven to show that higher-than-customary temperatures on the server room floor will result in energy savings.

Now, however, the committee is working on expanding the relative humidity part of the guidelines. Temperature and humidity are linked - cooler air is dryer. Too much humidity is obviously a danger to the server room environment due to the possibility of condensation buildup, but air that is too dry can also have negative effects like static that leads to short circuits and fires. Therefore, the data center can also be too cool. According to Data Center Journal, relative humidity should fall between 45 percent and 55 percent within the data center, but that recommendation may soon change as the ASHRAE reevaluates the metric.

Putting it into practice
Maintaining uptime is crucial in the data center, and IT managers can use these updated ASHRAE guidelines to their advantage when developing cooling strategies to save money and energy in the long run. Computers and servers are now being built heartier than previous versions, as well, which could allow managers to push the envelope when it comes to the temperature and humidity of their facilities.

Improving airflow management is crucial to optimizing server life and functionality. However, it's best not to go to one extreme or the other in regard to recommended climate levels. In a recent investigation of cooling design practices, TC 9.9 found that energy savings can depend on how cooling systems are designed and monitored.

"For data center design and operation, customers need equipment documentation to provide a range of air flow for different levels of equipment power levels, not just a maximum air flow," the report stated. "Data centers designed based on maximum air flow numbers will be over-designed and less energy efficient."

Therefore, employing a successful cooling strategy in the data center that isn't based on maximum air flow numbers could save money in the long run. Because the ASHRAE guidelines now allow a greater range of temperature in the data center, you can take advantage of that range based on equipment needs. With Geist's Dynamic Containment System and monitoring solutions, data centers can ensure increased uptime and cooling efficiency and use the larger range of accepted humidity and temperature to the fullest.