5 Key Considerations for Choosing Aisle Containment Systems

Keeping data center cooling costs under control while also improving cooling efficiency can feel like performing a balancing act. When implemented correctly, traditional hot and cold aisle configurations do improve cooling efficiency, but they also leave room for air mixing.

To optimize the effects of hot and cold aisle configurations, many companies are turning to hot and cold aisle containment systems. These systems physically isolate chilled intake air from hot exhaust air. Using hot and cold aisle containment can reduce operational cooling costs while allowing for greater equipment densities in data centers. 

Selecting the best aisle containment solution for your data center will depend on a few different factors, such as the state of your current infrastructure and anticipated future growth. Here are 5 key factors to consider when choosing an aisle containment system.

1) Does your existing data center need to be retrofitted?

Many standard systems require companies to retrofit their data centers. However, you can usually avoid the need to retrofit by choosing a custom solution. Determine if retrofitting your data center is the right option for your facility by evaluating both standard and custom solutions. If retrofitting is necessary, be sure to include line items that come along with retrofitting your data center in the project scope such as:

  • Construction needs
  • Current data center layout
  • Current airflow 

2) Current and future data center density requirements. 

Before deciding on an aisle containment system, it will be critical to evaluate your data center roadmap. Take advantage of expertise in multiple areas by tapping cross-functional groups, including your hardware provider, when determining current and future data center density requirements. Your data center roadmap can also strongly dictate the timeline for your aisle containment system installation, and whether a hot or cold aisle containment solution is the best choice for your location.

3) Rack and aisle uniformity. 

If your current racks are all the same size, you’ll likely be able to opt for a standard construction project where all panels will be the same size. If your racks are not uniform sizes your solution will need to be customized to accommodate the differences between the racks.

4) Does your data center deploy raised floor cooling? 

Whether or not raised floor cooling is used in a data center can dictate the best way to keep the hot or cold air contained. This data offers a vital piece of the puzzle when planning and gathering materials for constructing your aisle containment system as you will need to examine how current raised floor cooling practices support the desired IT load. 

5) The availability of a ceiling plenum to accept hot air. 

Some data centers pull hot air into a chiller and return the cooled air back into the data center. Others pull hot air into a converter to heat the facility and use the hot air to heat the data center. Understanding the connection between the containment panels and the ceiling are important to ensure you have an effective aisle containment system.

Taking time to evaluate and document your needs before committing to an aisle containment system is well worth the effort. Working with a supplier that has experience designing and implementing both standard and custom aisle containment solutions will help ensure you get exactly the right system for your facility.

Want to know more about custom aisle containment systems? Click here!

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