Cooling Strategies to Manage Rising Seasonal Temperatures


This summer’s heat waves have caused deaths and other social impacts – and caused data center outages. Cooling strategies can help manage the impact of rising temperatures. (Photo: Rich Miller)

In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv, discusses short-term and long-term cooling strategies to help your data center manage rising seasonal temperatures.

Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv

This year, record-breaking heat has grabbed headlines around the world and raised concerns about the future of data centers. Over the summer, abnormally high temperatures have hit India, the UK, the US, China, India and other countries, according to an October 2022 report from the Cross- Red International and United Nations.

Heatwaves have caused deaths and other social impacts – and caused UK data center outages as temperatures hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). In addition, heat waves have led to reduced power generation in France and concerns about water use in drought-affected regions in the United States, both of which can impact data centers. Experts say Europe is particularly vulnerable to heat waves in the coming years.

Anticipating rising temperatures

As data center operators prepare for a warmer future, it’s important to look to regions with experience handling extreme heat, as well as take advantage of new technologies.

Based on our global experience, we recommend:

  • Evaluate rooftop heat rejection space planning and design data center infrastructures to withstand higher heat loads and higher ambient temperatures, taking into account CFD analysis of heat distribution. appropriate air to optimize the placement of equipment on the roof.
  • Consider alternatives to conventional cooling systems, including waterless cooling systems and evaporative free cooling systems. These options are designed for reliability and efficiency at high temperatures.
  • Design a data room for higher operating temperatures to reduce the difference with the outdoor ambient temperature for better capacity planning.
  • Regularly check the health of your data center’s cooling system and ensure that it continues to meet design capacity needs.
Short term action plan

Given projections, warmer temperatures will likely return sooner rather than later. Here are two actions you can take in high heat conditions to protect your data center equipment:

Run as many units as possible. As temperatures rise, it is essential to keep refrigerant pressures as low as possible to avoid the risk of high pressure tripping. You can do this by running as many cooling units as possible, based on the data room load, to minimize the load on each individual unit. Typically, an organization would run all redundant units. If the IT load is not 100%, run enough units so that the cooling unit per unit is evenly distributed. This practice also provides a more efficient operating point.

Plan preventive maintenance. If you don’t already have a plan in place, now is the time to call your service provider to create one. If you already have a maintenance plan in place, review it with your service provider to ensure it’s ready for when temperatures rise. Two keys to success:

  • Clean the condenser coils. Failure to regularly and properly clean the condenser coil can result in a greater reduction in the overall capacity of the thermal unit than in the ambient temperature itself. Clean the coils more frequently during pollen, dust and poplar seasons as well as before high temperature months. Compressor-based (DX) units typically require quarterly or more frequent cleaning of the condenser coils.
  • Check refrigerant charge levels. If the levels are too low or out of range, the system will not deliver design capacity and the compressors may overheat. Proper maintenance helps ensure that the system operates efficiently.

By adopting these short-term and long-term strategies, you can improve the reliability and performance of your IT infrastructure today and in the future as we face the continued impacts of rising temperatures.

Steve Madara, Global Vice President of Thermal Management at Vertiv, where he is a founding member of the “Gang of Cool”, a team of Vertiv thermal management experts committed to sharing their expertise with the industry to improve efficiency and the reliability of data centers and cooling periphery. Contact Vertiv to learn more.


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