Data Centers: Meeting the Cooling Challenge
Part 3: What are the Main Types of Portable-Cooling Units?
What are the Main Types of Portable-Cooling Units?
By David Cosaboon - April 2010 - HVAC
Portable-cooling units generally do not present many installation challenges. Technicians often can roll them into place easily.
Portable-cooling units can be air-cooled or water-cooled. Water-cooled units are more efficient than their air-cooled counterparts, but they require high-pressure water lines, which are prone to leaks that make their use in data centers inherently risky. As a result, air-cooled units are more suited for use in areas in which water damage would be catastrophic.
The capacities of portable-cooling units can range from 0.5 to 5 tons, and costs vary from $600 to more than $12,000 for the unit itself.
The units come in two varieties: wheeled and ceiling mounted. The wheeled units feature casters so technicians can easily roll them between installation sites. Electrical requirements range from 115 Volts (V) to 460 V.
Many ceiling-mounted units feature flexible ducting, and they use the space above a drop ceiling for exhaust and air intake. Technicians remove a ceiling tile and install a specially designed tile with the flexible ducting, allowing the unit to dissipate the heat removed from the room.
The units store condensate internally in reservoirs technicians empty manually, similar to common residential de-humidifiers. In other units, technicians install pumps to automatically control the condensate level in the reservoir.
Whether data-center equipment is outgrowing the cooling capability of the space or is undergoing HVAC maintenance, portable cooling is a worthwhile alternative. With its comparatively low cost and ease of installation, portable-cooling technology offers managers a viable option to address data-center hot spots and a growing array of IT equipment.
David Cosaboon is a staff engineer at Facility Engineering Associates, in Fairfax, Va. He has performed energy-consulting services for clients such as Jones Lang LaSalle and the National Education Association.