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This article was created and contributed by Eaton.


A Healthcare-focused customer is a leading community-based health system in the central Florida area. Composed of a network of 10 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home health care, they provide expert medical care throughout a patient's lifetime. With more than 195 access points conveniently located throughout central Florida, our customer connects patients to a complete range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for any healthcare need.


Our customer's data center was constructed in June of 2007, utilizing standard hot/cold aisles implemented in legacy data centers. While utilizing this configuration and implementing a consistent blanking panel strategy in the empty U spaces, our customer's temperature sensors still indicated a difference of as much as 22º from the air coming out of the raised floor, versus the air reaching the servers at the top of its enclosures. The problem was that the air from the hot aisles was wrapping around to the cold aisle and also bleeding over the tops of our customer's server pods. Thus, our customer set out to implement energy-saving techniques that would adequately cool its systems while providing a reasonable return on investment. Our customer is keenly interested in keeping its data center aesthetically pleasing and therefore decided to investigate Eaton's Cold Aisle Containment System – a natural fit and perfect match to its 100 Eaton enclosures. 


Eaton's team performed an in-depth onsite analysis of our customer's aisle containment system. Thermal images were taken that showed the hottest spots located behind the racks. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models and airflow simulations were also conducted and the results showed that, although our partner was implementing some best practices by using blanking panels and the hot/cold aisle configuration, it was not supplying enough air through the handful of perforated tiles installed in the raised floor. Furthermore, not all of the cold supply air was reaching the top of each enclosure and the air was leaking through various openings in and around the rear of the enclosures. Thermal images also verified that hot air was wrapping around the hot aisles and making its way back to the cold aisles. Using the test results, the Cold Aisle Containment System was recommended to alleviate the chaotic cooling issues. Upon installation of more perforated floor tiles as well as Eaton's Cold Aisle Containment System – consisting of clear aisle ceilings and End-of-Row Doors to enclose the server pods – it was determined that the temperature from the floor to the top of the racks was practically the same – within 1º from bottom to top. It's also important to note that additional rack-hygiene best practices including foam seal kits to fill all air leakage fault areas were implemented at the rack level.


Our customer's 8600 square foot data center is divided into three dedicated regions and the Cold Aisle Containment System was initially only installed in one region. The region uses 80 Eaton Wright Line enclosures with Class 1 EIA-310 rack-mounted server equipment. The Aisle Containment Ceiling, comprised of V-0 rated Lexan® panels, mounts to the top of the enclosures. The ceiling's self-supporting structure allows for easy rack changes within the row and holes can be strategically drilled in the panels to further accommodate any type of fire suppression system. End-of-row doors were then installed at either end of the aisles blocking an obvious cold air escape route and entry for hot air re-circulation and air mixing. Containing the cold aisles allowed our partner to set a higher overall temperature within the data center.


CFD models and airflow simulations done after the cold aisle containment system was implemented confirmed the changes were a huge success and more thermal images further validated the data. Additionally, containing the cold air in front of the systems enabled our customer to raise its Computer Room Air conditioning (CRAC) set points four degrees higher from 70 to 74. Today, our customer has installed the Cold Aisle Containment Solution on all of its server pods. With the help of CFD simulation modeling, the Cold Aisle Containment recommendations have provided our partner with more consistent inlet temperatures and increased energy savings in its data center. "The cold aisle containment solution was a huge "ROI success" saving our partner thousands of dollars annually on our data center's electric bills", commented a Data Center Manager.

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