The data centre cooling experts at Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, has published guidance for managing data centres/ centers during periods of extreme heat.
Steps that organizations can take to mitigate the risks associated with extreme heat include:
- Run as many cooling units as possible to reduce the load on each individual unit, and save energy through teamwork controls.
- Consider different types of cooling systems, including liquid cooling, closed-loop chilled water cooling, and evaporative free cooling systems, all of which are designed for high-temperature environments.
- Use predictive modelling for thermal impacts rather than historic data. As extreme heat events increase in frequency, historic metrics often fall short of capturing modern risks.
- Clean or change air filters: the eerie orange haze that engulfed New York City recently was a powerful visual representation wildfires, one of the most immediate and severe impacts of climate change. For data centre operators, it should serve as a reminder to clean or change air filters in their data centre thermal management systems and HVAC systems. Those filters help to protect sensitive electronics from particulates in the air, including smoke.
- Accelerate planned maintenance and service: extreme heat and poor air quality tax more than data centre infrastructure systems. Electricity providers often struggle to meet the surge in demand that comes with higher temperatures, and outages are common. Such events are not the time to learn about problems with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system or cooling unit. Cleaning condenser coils and maintaining refrigerant charge levels are examples of proactive maintenance that can help to prevent unexpected failures.
- Activate available efficiency tools: many modern UPS systems are equipped with high-efficiency eco-modes that can reduce the amount of power the system draws from the grid. Heatwaves like those we’ve seen recently push the grid to its limits, meaning any reductions in demand can be the difference between uninterrupted service and a devastating outage.
- Leverage alternative energy sources: not all data centres have access to viable alternative energy, but those that do should leverage off-grid power sources. These could include on- or off-site solar arrays or other alternate sources, such as off-site wind farms and lithium-ion batteries, to enable peak shifting or shaving. Use of generators is discouraged during heat waves unless an outage occurs. Diesel generators produce more greenhouse gas and emissions associated with climate change than backup options that use alternative energy. In fact, organizations should postpone planned generator testing when temperatures are spiking.