How to design environmental controls for a server room

Learn how to design an ideal environmental control system for your Windows server room.

Windows servers generate a lot of heat and are sensitive to high temperatures and fluctuations in humidity. A stable environment can improve uptime and extend the life of your hardware. An ideal Windows server room environmental control system design should be modular, expandable and flexible.

The server room environmental controls design should also account for air temperature. Your air conditioning capacity will depend on the size of your room, lighting, number of people working in the room, quantity of electrical equipment and the heat generated by that equipment. In short, you'll need to determine the total load power in watts generated by all of these devices in order to determine their thermal output.

Environmental engineering can determine cooling requirements based on these factors, as exact calculation methods are beyond the scope of this paper. If possible, build redundancy and overcapacity into the environmental systems to allow for failures, maintenance downtime and temporary capacity spikes.

Air flow in and around Windows server racks is also crucial, and you'll need to work with your environmental engineering department to work out the server room design in terms of air conditioning types, duct placement and ceiling vs. floor- Be on the lookout for hotspots and stagnant air flow. Temperature and humidity sensors can be placed throughout a data center to monitor conditions, but there are several simple steps you can take to improve airflow. Also, here are some air flow do's and don't to consider, following these steps can help you regulate server room humidity and temperature.

  1. DON'T use shelves in your racks. Shelves trap heat and restrict air flow.
  2. DON'T use glass doors, which can trap heat and reduce air flow through the rack. Use fully vented doors, or remove the doors entirely.
  3. DO use blanking panels to close off open spaces in racks. These open spaces create traps for hot air within the rack and reduce air flow.
  4. DO perform your own tests on fan trays and roof fans to decide if they are worth the expense. They are common, but some critics say they provide little benefit for the electricity they use.
  5. DO make sure your racks are deep enough to allow air flow around cables, which can obstruct ventilation and cause overheating.
  6. DO place racks in rows and reverse the direction of how alternate rows face. This helps separate the hot exhaust air from the intake air. The front of a rack should never be facing the back of another rack.
  7. DO space out high-capacity racks, which can generate tremendous amounts of heat and increase power requirements.

Another important element to consider when designing the environmental controls for your Windows server is humidity levels. Low humidity levels increase the risk of static electricity, and high amounts of relative humidity can contribute to corrosion as well as lowering the heat removal capacity of your equipment. The relative humidity in a data center should generally be kept between 40-55 percent.

To learn more about environmental controls for Window server rooms, check out ASHRAE's specific guidelines for data centers.


HOW TO DESIGN A WINDOWS SERVER ROOM

  Introduction
  Determine Windows server room size requirements
  Reserve a Windows server room location
  Windows server room power requirements
 Windows server room environmental controls
 Windows server room rack solutions and cable management techniques
 Choosing Windows server room flooring
  Windows server room security

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