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Precision Air Conditioning & its IT Applications

An air-conditioned server room illustrates the Precision Air Cooling in IT spaces.

The rising temperature in the peak of an Indian summer sets the perfect tone for our blog topic- Precision Air Conditioning for IT applications.

Until recently, data centre managers purchased precision air conditioning systems primarily driven by the need to maintain precise temperature and humidity control in IT spaces. However, ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) revised and expanded the acceptable temperature and humidity range for sensitive IT environments.

With thermal management for IT systems remaining a critical priority, the requirement for precision air conditioning is a must. What is precision air conditioning all about?Also known as data centre-grade cooling systems, Precision ACs (PAC) like Emerson precision air cooling systems are a special kind of air conditioning equipment that maintain precise temperature and humidity conditions for critical applications such as:

  • Industrial controllers
  • Servers
  • Computer systems
  • Data centre equipment

These exclusive air conditioners are built to maintain temperature and RH in sensitive environments like data centres and IT spaces. Even if precise temperatures and humidity set points are no longer mandatory, the PAC plays a vital role in ensuring data-sensitive devices remain operable even with sophisticated servers' high heat.

What Is The Need for Precision Air Cooling in IT Spaces?

IT is an ever-evolving industry. With automation and digitalisation becoming the norm of the day, enterprises and organisations are making more room to house bigger and more powerful equipment to run their IT network environments. The more powerful the equipment, the more work efficiency it creates. But, this high-end equipment has a big risk: They generate a lot of heat.

Now, imagine an IT network room with these powerful servers connected to more than a dozen computer systems. The equipment-generated heat gets trapped in the space, and without adequate ventilation, the temperature can escalate to dangerous levels that shorten the lifespan of other devices.

Here’s where PACs come into play. These devices allow sensitive IT equipment to remain running and operable and prevent any downtime. Now, you may wonder if commercial air conditioners aren’t good enough to serve the same purpose. Of course, many buildings and industrial facilities rely on conventional AC systems. They are, without a doubt, very effective in controlling room temperature and humidity. Commercial air conditioners and Precision air conditioners serve different purposes. They are also designed differently.
Let’s break down the functional specifications of a precision AC.

4 Specific Functions of Precision Air Conditioners in the IT Environments

1. Manage IT equipment's concentrated heat load

Most IT office spaces are not originally designed to house high heat-generating equipment but have no other option but to do so. High-performance equipment makes conventional cooling solutions ineffective and creates an unsuitable working environment.
Precision air conditioners, however, are specifically designed to handle high heat trapped in small, congested areas and expel it in whatever method the system uses.

2. Operate non-stop, round-the-clock.

Even if the outside temperature is cool and comfortable, IT spaces require air conditioning to remove the trapped heat. Even in such scenarios, you cannot use commercial air conditioning for IT applications because they are designed to operate when the outside temperature is roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

The additional challenge with data grade centre cooling systems is that they will automatically shut down after hours. In such cases, the computer equipment will remain vulnerable to electrical or other issues.

Such problems are uncommon with precision air conditioners, mainly because they are designed to work non-stop, irrespective of the outside temperature. With this feature, you won't have to worry about your computer networks overheating.

3. Air filtration and volume

Compared to a less dense "comfort" application, a high-density heat load in a small space requires more air exchanges. Ordinary air conditioning cannot provide the volume of air needed by IT equipment. Normal office spaces require only two air changes per hour, but an IT room requires multiple changes per hour. This air volume is compulsory to handle temperature fluctuations, hot spots, and ideal heat ratios within the IT environment.

4. Control room temperature to the best of their ability

A conventional AC system’s capacity is split between cooling the space and eliminating moisture from the air. This combination creates a comfortable, optimal temperature when the temperature rises. About 40% of the system’s capacity regulates the humidity in this case. The rest of the capacity, which is 60%, is dedicated to regulating the air temperature and keeping the place cool.

This problem can result in a great deal of waste in IT spaces because IT equipment generates dry, intense heat. This means it doesn't require nearly as much capacity for humidification.

Think about it: What’s the point in buying a 100kW commercial air conditioner to cool an IT load of the same capacity? The system will most definitely fail because system can generate only about 60% of the cooling capacity.

Here’s where PCAs make a difference because they are designed with a heat ratio of 0.90%, which is the optimal cooling capacity required to cool IT devices. The remaining 10% capacity removes humidity entering the room whenever the doors open and close. Nowadays, thermal management systems offer a better heat ratio of 0.95%.

Bringing It All Together

Cooling equipment works best only when they align with the purpose, equipment type and room size. A simple ceiling fan will suffice if you use a single PC or laptop. However, to run an industrial or business server network, you need higher-density equipment requiring a dedicated cooling system like precision ACs.

If you are interested in investing in emerson precision air cooling systems for your IT environment, contact our Nantech professionals in Chennai for expert guidance.

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Author: Nantech Team
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