If you're making the transition to maintaining your own server room, you need to prioritize the cooling system. Your building's air conditioning system may not be sufficient to keep the computer equipment cooled appropriately. In addition, using the building's main HVAC system will leave it putting heat in the room during the winter months. Before you put your servers into the room, take some time to ensure that you have an effective and independently controlled cooling system in place. Here are a few different ways that you might consider cooling your server room.
Close-Coupled Liquid Cooling System
Close-coupled cooling systems rely on a perpetual closed loop of chilled water to keep the space cool. These systems are great when you need to be able to customize the cooling structure or you want to make sure that you're focusing your cooling where you need it most. In addition, these systems are easy to upgrade if you expand the server space.
Many close-coupled liquid cooling systems even support the addition of variable-speed fans and even a regulator system to automatically respond to the temperature changes in the server room. These regulators help by increasing the flow of the cooling liquid when the temperature starts going up in the room.
In some areas, you can rely on the naturally cool outdoor temperatures to keep your server room comfortable. You'll have to live somewhere where the climate is consistently cool and dry, though. If you're in an area where temperatures are warm or humid, this isn't a viable choice. Though you may be able to use this cooling method during the winter and then rely on a separate cooling system in the summer months when temperatures are too warm for a natural cooling system.
Stand-Alone Server Air Conditioning
A server room air conditioning system is typically installed directly under the server room floor. The system uses the same type of refrigerant that a normal air conditioner does, and it is usually connected to one or more cooling condensers located outside the building.
Server room air conditioners force cool air up into the room using grates installed in the flooring. The cool air distributes throughout the room, though it may leave small warm pockets between the server racks in some room layouts.
Since warm air rises, these systems usually include exhaust fans at the ceiling level to pull the warm air out. The fans then cycle that air back to the condensers outside, which will chill the air and send it back into the room. This type of design produces a closed air cycle for cooling purposes.
Like a stand-alone air conditioning system, air handling systems are installed in the floor. The difference is that air handling systems rely on water for the cooling cycle, not cooled air. The water that runs through the air handling system runs through a refrigerated structure on the outside of your building. This drops the water temperature so that the cold water can be cycled through the tubes installed in the floor. The cold air then radiates up from the floor.
Most systems also have small fans installed directly beneath the water lines. The fans are used to help force the chilled air radiating from the lines into the room. Exhaust fans in the ceiling draw warm air out in the same way that they do with a stand-alone air conditioner, only they don't contain and cycle the air back to a condenser with this system. The air simply flows out the exhaust fan.
The goal of your server room's air conditioning system is to protect your server equipment from overheating. With so many options, you're sure to find the choice that works best in your office. Talk with an HVAC technician today to determine which system will fit best in your building, or go to sites of local companies to see what options they offer.