Data Center Cooling Accounts for 60% of the Total Power Bill

It is predicted that the Latin American data center services market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 22.4% between 2020 and 2023. There are currently 103 data centers in South America and 33 in Central America, according to GlobalData.

The pandemic, teleworking and digitization pushed the Industry 4.0 revolution that has caused the dependence on cloud-level data to grow. The market is experiencing steady growth over the last decade, and has led to companies moving their operations to Data Centers outside the organizations, as well as the implementation of Micro Data Centers.

«The information technology market is changing due to digital transformation. For this reason, local, regional or global data centers must ensure proper operation, energy efficiency and controlled environment that allows them to operate in the environmental conditions indicated by international standards,» said Heriberto Gamboa, Secure Power sales director for Schneider Electric in Central America.

A data center must not only be constantly connected to an electrical network in a specific location, but it also needs to make sure that these supercomputers do not shut down due to overheating, as this could break or melt the parts that make them up, or even cause a fire. In addition, it is becoming increasingly necessary for these machines and their vital operating systems to be energy efficient in order to reduce the economic and environmental impact of their consumption.

«Operating a data center at an excessively low temperature can generate very high and unnecessary energy costs, with the cooling system being the one that consumes the most energy. For example, between 60% and 70% of the energy consumed in such centers is used exclusively for cooling processes,» added Gamboa. «In addition, it is important to consider that data centers have traditionally been cooled by various systems that may soon be considered obsolete because of their high impact and cost, compared to other technologies that we see today».

To protect data, operations and hardware, it is essential to have special cooling solutions with high-availability designs and components that can reduce and control the existing thermal load, such as sensors, ventilation systems, maintenance software, among others.

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the maximum temperature in a data center should not exceed 27°C measured at the front door of the server cabinet.

The basic methods of heat removal for data centers differ primarily in how they physically reside in the IT environment and how they collect and transport heat to the outside atmosphere. All cooling methods have advantages and disadvantages that make them preferred for various applications, depending on their size and need.

«At Schneider Electric we offer various solutions ranging from airflow control, fire, smoke and water detection devices, cooling systems either by water, glycol or air, humidifiers and reheat systems. In addition, with respect to software we have monitoring and control tools that allow us to collect data so we can perform predictive maintenance and prevent critical incidents, «said Gamboa.

The main reasons for having an adequate cooling system are the following:

  • To avoid operational downtime in data centers.
  • To eliminate overheating of the equipment housed in these sites.
  • Avoid electrostatic charges.
  • Eliminate condensation, which prevents oxidation inside IT equipment.
  • Maintain environmental control in the data center so that servers and networking equipment operate under the conditions established by the manufacturers of such equipment.

«Currently, some market sectors such as banking, industrial, hospital, IT and retail, must prioritize investing in cooling systems to prevent failures due to heat overload and failures,» said Gamboa.

What to consider when choosing the right cooling system?

To maintain an adequate, efficient and continuous operation within a data center, it is essential to know the specific requirements of each one of them.

You must define the load needs, distribution, architecture, capacity, uptime requirements, power density, geographic location, physical size of the IT environment to be protected, availability and reliability of existing building systems, and the time and money available for the system. As well as design and installation.

Depending on the type of load, use and service provided to its users, the center must be evaluated and cooled in a different way, even considering hybrid solutions. If the design of the data center is not correct, if the equipment is not well distributed, with an adequate air flow, it may happen that to keep the data center cooled, energy equal to or greater than that used to operate the IT equipment itself may be needed.

«The consumption of the cooling system depends on the ability to extract the hot air generated by the equipment and the temperature difference between inside and outside. Therefore, a good precision cooling system allows regulating the cold but also the humidity levels to prevent condensation and/or static electricity, and also provides a high level of filtration, offering more stable conditions» concluded Gamboa.