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Comfort vs. Precision Cooling

Data centers and computer rooms are being built everywhere to accommodate the rapidly increasing demand for data processing. Too often, systems that are designed to manage human comfort are being applied to data centers, and they simply aren’t up to the task.

Using a comfort system where precision cooling is required inevitably results in unplanned downtime, excessively high energy costs, and diminished ROI due to shortened equipment life.

Data centers are mission critical and energy intensive. It’s critical to get climate control right, starting by recognizing that comfort cooling and precision cooling are fundamentally different.

What's the Difference?

Comfort Cooling Systems are designed:

  • To manage general temperature and humidity for human comfort

  • For intermittent use 8-12 hours a day

  • To offset low density heat loads; the heat that’s generated by people, lighting, and office equipment. When people aren’t present, systems can be dialed down to reduce energy use and cost

Precision Cooling Systems are designed:

  • To create precise temperature and humidity conditions for equipment

  • Specifically for places like data centers, computer rooms, and even in some cases, the indoor agriculture market

  • To be run 24 hours a day, 365-days a year

  • To offset high density heat loads

Data centers require 24/7 precision cooling to offset the higher density heat loads that are produced by IT equipment. Computer room air conditioners and other solutions are specifically designed to maintain the server and switch gear inlet temperature and moisture content. They have variable operating capacity that closely matches cooling to the IT load, while simultaneously maintaining the moisture content using dehumidifiers or humidification.

As mentioned above, comfort cooling systems are designed for seasonal hours of operation. As defined by ANSI/AHRI 2 10/240 – 2008, that’s typically 8 hours a day for 125 days a year, for a total of 1000 hours of operation annually though many operate for much longer.

In contrast, precision cooling systems are engineered for 24 hour a day, 365-day operation. They must be robust enough to provide reliable, mission critical cooling for 8700 hours a year.

The Bottom Line

Only systems that are specifically designed to meet the precision cooling requirements of data center and computer rooms can deliver the optimal conditions for reliable IT system performance over the long term, while optimizing energy use and cost.

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