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While facility managers may go years between purchases or leases of portable cooling systems, when they need one, it's often critical and urgent: The existing air conditioning system stops working on one of the hottest days of the year, or the computer equipment malfunctions due to inadequate cooling in the data center. Before signing a purchase or lease agreement for a new portable cooling system, facility managers will want to address the following questions:
• What’s driving the need for a portable cooling system?
• What size area do you need to cool?
• What steps might reduce the size of the cooling unit needed?
• What is the energy efficiency rating of the equipment?
• Should I buy or rent?
• What steps can facilitate installation and maintenance?
Many facility managers evaluating new portable cooling systems will find that the technology has advanced significantly since the last time they were in the market. More powerful fans and more efficient compressors "have dramatically reduced the cost of essentially all cooling equipment, which has made its way into portable cooling technology," says Philip Winterland, project manager with Facility Engineering Associates. This reduces the amount of energy needed to cool a space.
In addition, the integration of indirect evaporative cooling (swamp coolers) into traditional systems can reduce the size of the compressor motor required, Winterland says. Again, this can save energy.
Because the need for a portable cooling system can occur quite rapidly, it helps to gain an understanding of the systems available when things are running smoothly. As the saying goes, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.