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4  FM quick reads on Portable cooling

1. Questions to Answer Before Deciding on a Portable Cooling Solution


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.


2.  Portable Cooling Units Important For Servers

Today's tip is to be aware of the role played by portable cooling units, particularly in IT. As servers and IT equipment spread throughout facilities, managers continue to face the challenge of specifying cooling equipment that can operate effectively in awkward, confined and often ill-prepared conditions.

The need for a comprehensive strategy to cool server rooms has become a higher priority for managers. But because few facilities were designed for such installations, organizations are putting servers and IT equipment in the unlikeliest of places. "We're seeing this equipment in these remote locations that were never intended to hold that kind of stuff," says Craig Watkins with Tripp Lite. "It's under a stairwell or in a closet. Sometimes, you open a janitorial closet, and you find a small rack enclosure holding some IT equipment, and it's next to a mop bucket."

One of the first steps for managers looking to install or upgrade their portable cooling is to understand the impact of servers and IT equipment on the cooling load.

"The number one thing that I sometimes have trouble getting is information on their (installed) equipment — how many watts are being generated," says Buddy Phillips of Atlas Sales & Rentals. "What we're trying to do is offset the load that they have with air-conditioning equipment so it keeps the room cool." "Not many people truly understand the heat load their room has unless an experienced engineer or industry veteran goes through all of the heat-generating equipment in the room and explains how many Btus of heat each is giving off," says Mike Paulson, president of AmeriCool.

Paulson recommends questions for managers to ask while shopping:

  • Does the unit have auto restart in case of a power outage?
  • What is the operating range? "If you have a server room, it is important the unit can cool down to 68 degrees," Paulson says. "If it is for a hot, humid warehouse, it is important it can work in temperatures over 100 degrees."
  • What kind of application support is offered by the manufacturer or distributor? Does the seller offer rental units in case a warranty issue arises or the heat load increases, requiring more cooling?

3.  Waterproofing Strategies for Vegetative Roofs

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is waterproofing strategies for vegetative roofs.

Project specifications related to waterproofing of vegetative roofing assemblies should include root barriers and membrane protection, fully adhered or grid-isolated attachment, water testing of the installed membrane, and electronic leak-monitoring systems, if desired.

Fully adhered systems inhibit water movement between the roof deck and the waterproofing membrane, so if a leak occurs, the water will not travel far. This feature simplifies leak detection and repair.

Managers can specify grid isolation if the membrane is loose-laid or partially adhered. When it is adhered in a grid pattern, the assembly isolates leaks to a single area of the grid. For systems that are not fully or grid adhered, locating and repairing leaks can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly on intensive vegetative systems. Specifying an electronic leak-detection system also can reduce costs associated with leaks. If leaks occur, electronic systems can pinpoint the breaches and ensure quick and efficient repairs.

Specifications also should include quality-assurance requirements, including flood testing and regular installation inspections by an independent inspector and a manufacturer's representative.

Many manufacturers require flood testing of waterproofing membranes before the installation of protection mats and growing media. Inspection of the installation, especially of the waterproofing membrane, is essential. Inspectors also should monitor the membrane for damage caused by installers or other workers on site, especially for new construction projects.

Punctures in the waterproofing membrane often can occur after flood testing. If the spaces below the roof are sensitive to moisture, technicians should conduct regular electronic monitoring.

Maintaining vegetative roofs can be relatively simple if managers choose drought-resistant plants and are looking for a natural aesthetic. But some systems require irrigation and regular landscaping.

4.  Portable Cooling: Preparation and Planning

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is developing a plan for portable cooling.

For managers to realize the full benefits of a temporary cooling system, they must carefully evaluate their buildings' requirements and select the system that most closely meets the needs of their facilities. Planning is the key, but it is difficult, at best, to plan once the cooling service has failed.

The first step in the process is to identify the most critical areas within a facility that would be most adversely affected by the loss of cooling. Not all areas are equally important. Cooling might be necessary to keep computers and other critical electronic equipment operating, or it might provide comfort only. Managers need to determine the impact a loss of cooling services would have on operations.

Next, determine the extent of any potential disruption. Would it be localized in isolated areas within a building, or would it be building-wide? Managers can address localized, temporary cooling requirements through the use of spot, portable systems. More widespread outages might require a building-wide solution.

Another option — one that would not require additional equipment — is to determine if it is possible to temporarily relocate the operations affected by the outage to another location within the facility.

Managers need to evaluate a number of factors before selecting a temporary or portable cooling system. One of the most important steps in this phase is to determine the capacity of the required cooling system. Specify a system that is too small, and the area might not cool properly. Specify one that is too large, and the result will be inefficient operation, frequent cycling of the unit, excessive noise, and improper humidity control.

Managers can develop quick estimates of cooling loads by looking at the power requirements of all equipment operating in the space. They also can ensure more accurate load calculations by having engineers perform the calculations.


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Portable cooling , HVAC , air-conditioning

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