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HVAC systems for Data Centers

HVAC systems for Data Centers require special attentions. Everytime we navigate websites or social media, a significant quantity of user information is uploaded and collected. Data centers’ main function is to gather and manage those huge quantities of data. To do that, these facilities operate 24/7, consuming vast amounts of energy and generating huge quantities of heat. Removing that heat is crucial, because it prevents electrical components from overheating and fail or even catch fire. It is fudamental to guarantee the reliability a data center and the continuity of operations.

So, reliability is a very important aspect, but HVAC systems’ energy-efficiency is another aspect to not neglect.

The energy consumption for a typical data center is usually split this way:

  • IT equipment 50%
  • Cooling and HVAC systems 35%
  • Electrical Infrastructure & Support 10%
  • Lighting 5%

Therefore, HVAC systems can have an important impact on how efficient the whole facility ends up being. They determine how much energy the facility will consume to carry out operations, and impact the price for the service offered by the data center.

Now that we have defined the main aspects that govern the design of a HVAC system for a Data Center, the main question is: how can HVAC equipment provide value for these projects?

To reduce Data Centers energy costs there is no single solution, but a number of strategies. Here are a few:

1. HVAC systems for Data Centers need a good starting base 

Selecting highly efficient chillers, is a good starting base. So, when it comes to selecting a chiller for this application, the selection of a unit equipped with the right compressor is fundamental. Single Screw Inverter compressors are usually a great choice for this application. In fact, this kind of compressor technology can guarantee the highest efficiency on the market, other than great reliability.

2. Top notch temperature control

It’s important to work with the IT equipment provider and design and operate the HVAC system to the specific requirements of the data storage devices. There are recommended temperature and humidity ranges,** which need to be guaranteed through a perfect temperature control. That allow the equipment environment to operate safely and at the best of their efficiency.

** (ASHRAE® Technical Committee 9.9 published a book titled “Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments” providing guidelines)

3. Free Cooling

Free cooling is a great way to save on operating costs while minimizing the impact on the environment. Nature can provide free air conditioning in many parts of the world for a most of the year. Free cooling systems allow to bring cold outside air or water inside to cool down indoor spaces, thereby reducing or even eliminating the need for mechanical cooling.

Free cooling doesn’t necessarily require an extremely cold climate. Whenever the outdoor temperature is cold enough, then chillers turn down compressors and take advantage of the favourable outdoor temperature. This system can be even more efficient when implementing refrigerant natural migration, i.e. the free circulation of refrigerant within the unit’s circuit, with no need of additional pumps. That is possible thanks to R-32 refrigerant in Daikin EWAT-B- range, for instance.

4. Proper control

When using a group of chillers, a proper system control is essential. A tool specifically designed to optimize the performance of a group of chillers can make a big difference when it comes to making a chiller plant efficient.

Daikin iCM, allows groups of chillers to reach their goal with minimum effort, both in terms of energy consumption and mechanically, ensuring chillers’ increased durability and efficiency, therefore generating operating and maintenance cost savings.

As far as reliability, then, these are a few other aspects that are worth of consideration:

  • Redundancy

For a critical application like a Data Center redundancy is key. This kind of application, in fact, imposes to have some redundancy other than chillers actually cooling down the facility. This is a way to ensure back up in case of maintenance or in case of units’ downtime, which is important since a single minute of downtime in a Data Center can cost thousands of Euros/Dollars.

  • Monitoring

Operations monitoring and maintenance planning is another very important aspect to ensure the durability and reliability of a chiller plant. A remote monitoring system like Daikin on Site (DoS) is the perfect tool for this purpose, because it allows to collect operational data and schedule maintenance activities beforehand, avoiding units’ downtime.

  • Rapid Restart

The rapid restart option is more and more important in applications where continuity of operations is crucial. For instance, if a Daikin chiller were to face a power loss event, with this option, it could restart compressors rapidly, allowing the chiller to immediately return to the same cooling capacity it was producing prior to the power loss event.

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