Data centers house critical IT infrastructure like servers, switches, routers, and storage systems that need to run 24/7. This equipment generates significant heat that must be removed to prevent dangerous overheating. Precision air conditioning is used in data centers to maintain the tight temperature and humidity control required for safe, reliable operation.

What is Precision Air Conditioning?

Precision air conditioning refers to cooling systems designed to precisely regulate temperature and humidity within tight margins. Standard commercial AC systems are designed to keep occupied spaces reasonably comfortable for people. Precision units are engineered for the much more demanding job of controlling conditions for sensitive electronic equipment.

Precision air conditioners use variable speed fans and compressors. This allows them to make frequent, incremental adjustments to cooling output rather than being limited to being fully on or off. The ability to fine tune airflow and refrigerant levels enables precision temperature management within one or two degrees.

Humidity control is equally important in data centers. Too much moisture in the air can lead to condensation forming on hardware which conducts dangerous electrical current. Precision AC systems remove humidity down to 5-10% relative humidity, preventing condensation while avoiding levels so low they could cause static discharge.

Why Precision Cooling is Crucial in Data Centers?

IT equipment was not designed to withstand temperature fluctuations beyond certain parameters. CPU chips in devices like servers and routers rely on tiny components spaced just micrometers apart. Overheating causes components to expand and leads to crashes and hardware failures.

With compounded computing power from virtualization and blade servers packing more processing into less space, cooling demands have intensified. Research shows every 10-15 degree increase in temperature cuts the lifespan of electronics in half. Keeping servers within the ideal 68-72 degree range is now essential.

In addition to temperature control, managing air distribution and preventing hot spots is key. Strategic vent placement and variable fan speeds in precision AC systems directs cold air to hot equipment and keeps exhaust air moving out efficiently. Proper air flow prevents dead zones where heat could build up.

Types of Precision Air Conditioners Used in Data Centers

There are several types of precision air conditioning systems used in data centers:

  • Central air handlers – These large AC units connect to an air duct system to deliver cold air throughout the data center. Multiple big AC units can be staged to provide redundancy.
  • In-row cooling units – Self-contained AC systems installed between server racks blow chilled air front-to-back over the cabinet. This contains hot exhaust.
  • In-rack cooling – Small AC units mounted inside server racks provide close-coupled cooling right at the equipment air intakes for targeted temperature control.
  • Rear-door heat exchangers – These mount on the rear of racks and draw hot air from inside to be cooled and recirculated without mixing with the rest of the data center air.
  • Chilled water CRACs (computer room air conditioners) – CRACs use chilled water from central chillers and evaporative cooling to remove heat.

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Whatever types are used, precision cooling systems work in harmony to maintain data center temperatures for safeguarding mission critical IT systems. Consistent precision control is the key to reliable data center operation.