How to Manage Airflow in a Data Center

We all know that without sufficient cold supply air to cool vital equipment, data centers would swiftly become bonfires.

But what’s the best way to manage airflow dynamics in data centers? How do you ensure that hot air and cold air are going where they need to go and aren’t mixing?

Our guide to data center airflow management explains how you can minimize your energy bills and maximize your equipment’s lifespan.


In the article:

  • What is Airflow Management?
  • Using Hot and Cold Aisles
  • How to Avoid Mixing Hot and Cold Air
  • What are the Three Things You Can Do to Improve the Cooling Efficiency of Data Centres?
  • FAQ
  • The Best Data Center Airflow Management Solutions

What is Airflow Management?

Airflow management is the practice of ensuring that the air temperature of a data center remains optimal for the equipment inside. This requires warm air to be removed from the environment where heat is generated (i.e., the IT equipment) and cool air to be added via an effective air conditioning system.

Many data centers use stopgap solutions in an attempt to improve the cooling capacity of their equipment. However, data center managers should know that the best way to achieve optimal data center cooling  is by:

  1. Designing from the bottom up to create proper airflow distribution and cooling
  2. Using a system called cold aisle containment.


Using Hot and Cold Aisles

In the data center industry, we define hot and cold aisles as:

  • Hot aisle: the area of the server room where the servers do their work, producing heat
  • Cold aisle: the area tasked with the cooling process

Hot aisles  are naturally full of hot air that needs a place to escape. Most data centers using a generic hot aisle containment system typically use a drop ceiling and an HVAC system to extract warm air from this area.

The problem is that unless the server racks reach the ceiling (which most don’t), hot return air will inevitably mingle with the cool air that is used to cool the IT equipment. This single unprotected opening reduces the system cooling capacity and is an inefficient way of managing the IT load.

However, using cold aisles  separated by plastic curtains or blanking panels can markedly increase the overall efficiency of a data center. It can even target problem areas like hot spots and parts of the aisle that typically experience inefficient airflow.


How to Avoid Mixing Hot and Cold Air

Physical Barriers

A major feature of the hot aisle/cold aisle system is the presence of physical barriers separating different types of airflow. When you separate hot air from cold air with a physical barrier, you have far more cooling capacity to work with.

While allowing warm air to be expelled by internal fans, this method can enable better cooling efforts by transferring warm air to systems using water-filled cooling coils. These cooling systems transform heat into cool air that can be used in turn for data center air flow.


Raised Floors

A raised floor with perforated tiles allows air flow to be more equitably distributed across a floor. Server fans only do so much: the area beneath the floor is unused space that you can benefit from.

By using a raised floor, you can lower cooling costs, reduce hot spots, and decrease server inlet temperatures.


Managing Exhaust

It’s not just about ensuring that enough air gets into the data room – it’s about ensuring that the right amount of hot air gets out. More efficient systems allow you to bypass airflow suggestions whenever necessary and allow the right amount of cooled air into your data room.

Inefficient systems like having multiple cabinets pumping warm air into a single, enclosed space can cause cable cutout (if you’re savvy enough to use cable cutouts! Otherwise, it could cause a major fire or worse). Otherwise, there are several solutions to improve exhaust management in data rooms.


What Are Three Things You Can Do to Improve the Cooling Efficiency of a Data Center?

1) Arrange Servers to Improve Airflow

Let’s start with Square One, where every data center manager fears to tread: rearranging servers to improve efficiency.

Unfortunately, you may have to do some adjusting at your center to improve cooling. But there’s good news: your airflow problems can be halfway solved simply by putting your kit in the right place. Here’s how:

  • Design the cabinet load so that heat is emitted into hot areas that are protected by air restrictors.
  • Place units in parallel rows that allow for proper heat exchange at an affordable price.

Need help? Talk to our data room cooling specialists for more information.


2) Using Efficient Doors

Glass doors are often preferred in data rooms because – well, you can see through them. This is important for any hot aisle containing sensitive equipment.

However, you also need a glass door that will close unprotected openings and prevent hot air from entering the space.


3) Avoiding Gaps

Among the top benefits of cold-aisle systems is that they allow you to seal gaps without dispute. Whether it’s designing your system so that adjacent cabinets decrease gaps or using filler panels to prevent excess air flow – these initiatives are worth it.

Have you considered using blanking panels  to improve your data management center? They’re an easy way to prevent air mixing, especially when you choose high-quality panels and professional installation from IDC Solutions .



How can I keep my data center running well?

Working with design and airflow professionals consistently is the best way to ensure that your data center never becomes outdated or inefficient. You receive access to specialists in this field who can recommend personalized solutions for your center.

How do you manage a data center?

By working with the best in the business! It seems simple, but the task is challenging without the right help. You will need expert input throughout designing and managing any data center. IDC Solutions offers a range of services for Data Centers .


The Best Data Center Airflow Management Solutions

Successful data centers are organized and designed for efficiency, and that includes managing hot air. However, not every business owner has time to install the best airflow management solutions when daily operations are a priority.

That’s what we’re here for.  EziBlank keeps your data cool with lightweight, efficient systems that also match your center’s aesthetics.

View data center cooling and equipment  today to get set up with the best data center airflow management solutions for your business.

Want to learn more about how you can improve the conditions and operations at your center? Click to read more articles  from the EziBlank team.