More engineering and maintenance engineers are taking a closer look at the ongoing operations of existing data centers because they are becoming an integral aspect of growing one’s commercial facilities. Apart from improving the reliability of HVAC and electrical systems that serve the data centers, you also need to increase the energy efficiency of electrical and cooling systems. To plan for an efficient data center, it is imperative that you address the following project components: reporting, monitoring, protection, adaptability, and redundancy requirements.
Common Sources of Data Center Energy Efficiency Problems
To improve energy efficiency in your data center, you need to be aware of the common sources of efficiency problems:
- Under-floor blockages that force cooling devices to work harder
- UPS equipment running at low loads, which lead to decreased efficiency
- Oversized UPS units running at the wrong capacity limits
- Underutilization of components caused by N+1 or 2N redundant designs
- Air conditioners driving air at high pressures over long distances whilst consuming extra power
- Power distribution units not operating at their correct load capacities
Data Center Upgrades
Now that you have learnt what the problems are, it is time to get the right upgrades for your data center. They include:
Vented floor tiles and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
CFD analyzes airflow patterns to optimize data center cool-airflow. This helps ensure that you place the right amount of vented floor tiles in the best possible locations. If you do this right, you might be able to achieve over 20% reduction in cooling costs.
You can consider investing in variable-frequency drive technology to reduce energy usage. In some cases, data center managers have managed to save fan energy consumption by up to 76%. These technologies allow cooling systems to adjust fan speed to meet the changing demand.
Chillers are designed to take away heat from one element and transfer it into another element. They should be used for round-the-clock operation as there is substantial heat produced by many servers operating close to one another. Without chillers, high temperatures can destroy hardware and corrupt mission-critical data.
Uninterruptible power supplies
By increasing uninterruptible power supply (UPS) efficiency, one can enjoy greater cost savings when it comes to managing data centers. The majority of UPS units run at AC-to-DC conversion efficiency levels of approximately 93%. A small efficiency increase from 93% to 94% has the potential to yield up millions of dollars in energy costs over a decade.
Data Center Upgrading Strategies
Rightsizing basically means building for what you need. In fact, it has the most impact on your data center’s power consumption. Rightsizing can be accomplished through proper virtualization and server consolidation. When redesigning with rightsizing in mind, it is pertinent that you remain aware of the need for additional capacity in the years to come. With the right amount of planning, you ensure that datacenter power and cooling load pay for itself, in terms of reduced operational and capital expense.
Finally, your data center should be laid out in a way that does not obstruct air flow. You may wish to adhere to a hot-aisle or cool-aisle layout, i.e. hot air and cold air segregation. Don’t forget to check for any cooling systems overlap in your facility as well. If you are not sure what configuration works for you, you can always consider a colocation solution.