If your company has outgrown the independent workstation environment that you set up when you first got started, it's time to think about setting up a network so that everyone can work from the same resources. Before you set up the server room and network infrastructure, you need to make sure that you have a space that's safe to install the equipment. Server equipment needs a cool environment, but if you connect it to the main building HVAC system, it's going to pump heat in the winter. Here are some different methods that will help you keep your server room cool all year.
When you use free cooling in your server room, you're using the natural outdoor temperatures to keep things cool. This is only ideal if you live in an area where the average temperatures are cool and fairly dry. Humidity and warm temperatures are problematic for this type of cooling system. If you prefer, you can install a free cooling system to use in the winter months while you use a separate cooling system in the warmer weather season.
A close-coupled cooling system uses liquid for cooling. That liquid – usually water – is chilled as it's routed through the system, and it then draws the heat away from the servers. The liquid is cycled through the system in a closed loop, producing a perpetual cooling operation.
The benefit of liquid cooling systems like these is that they're highly customizable and you can upgrade them easily when your cooling demand increases. You can even integrate a variable-speed fan and regulators to adjust the fluid flow. This will allow the system to respond to changes in the temperature in the room, increasing the flow for more cooling if the temperature goes up.
Server Room Air Conditioning Systems
Most computer room air conditioning systems are installed directly beneath the server room floor. These systems use refrigerant and are connected to one or more condensers that are usually installed outside. When the system is running, it pushes cool air into the room through several grates that are installed in the floor. Gradually, the cool air will distribute throughout the space, leaving only small pockets of warm air in the aisles between the server racks.
Exhaust fans installed in the ceiling draw that warm air out of the room and then cycle it back to the condensing unit. The condensing unit cools the air and then distributes it back through the air vents. This creates a complete, closed air cycle to cool the room.
Air handlers are similar to server room air conditioners in the way that they are installed, but they are different in the fact that air handler systems use water for cooling instead of air. The water is pumped through a chiller structure that's located outside the building. The chiller lowers the water temperature, and the cold water is then pumped through the tubes installed in the floor. Like radiant heat, the cold water will chill the air above the floor, gradually radiating that cool air throughout the room.
To make these systems more efficient, there are typically fans installed directly below the grates in the floor. These fans blow air past the cool water lines to encourage the distribution of the cooler air into the room. Like the air conditioning systems, they also have an exhaust fan installed near the ceiling to draw warmer air out of the room.
With so many different cooling system choices for server rooms, there's sure to be a choice that will fit your needs. Work with a commercial HVAC specialist like Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling who understands the unique and precise needs of server equipment to ensure that you get a system that will work well.