HVAC Group Says Data Centers Can Be Warmer

The HVAC industry group ASHRAE has expanded its recommendations for ambient data center termperatures, raising its upper limit from 77 degrees to 80.6 degrees.

For some time now, leading players in the data center industry have been raising the temperatures in their data center, savings hundreds of thousands of dollars in cooling costs in the process. The list of companies singing the praises of savings through higher baseline temperature settings in the data center includes Google, Intel, Sun and HP.

The leading industry group for heating and cooling professionals has now joined the choir. The American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) this week expanded its recommendations for ambient data center termperatures, raising its recommended upper limit from 77 degrees to 80.6 degrees.

Data center managers can save up to 4 percent in energy costs for every degree of upward change in the baseline temperature, known as a set point. The higher set point means less frequent use of air conditioning, which saves the enrgy used to run cooling systems.

Running your data center warmer also raises the potential for "hot spots" to form in areas where cooling airflow doesn't reach an entire rack. That's why it's a good idea to implement advanced monitoring of rack temperatures and data center airflow before nudging the set point higher.

ASHRAE approved the changes to its temperature recommendations this week at its meeting in Chicago. Mark Fontecchio from Tech Target has additional coverage of the ASHRAE decision, along with discussion of several impacts of higher set points: more noise in the data center as server fans become more active, and toasty conditions in the hot aisle, which is often 30 degrees warmer than the cold aisle.

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