Even the Government Agrees!

U.S. Department of Energy suggests you first address the simple solutions to airflow problems in legacy data centers

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy on Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that as data center energy densities increase, measured in power-use per square foot, energy savings for cooling can be realized by optimizing airflow pathways within the data center.

Airflow retrofits can increase data center energy efficiency by freeing up stranded airflow and cooling capacity and make it available for future needs.  Many airflow deficiencies can be expected in legacy data centers that have gone through numerous modifications, rearrangements, and refreshes of server equipment.  Air leaks, obstructions, perforated tile locations, cable penetrations, and missing blanking panels can cause poor air distribution that can be remedied with low-cost solutions.  Generally fixing what’s broke makes the most energy and economic sense in legacy data centers.

The most common airflow problems:
• Hot spots
• Leaks
• Mixing
• Recirculation
• Short circuiting
• Obstructions
• Disordered pathways
• Turbulence
• Reverse flow

Fundamental repairs to airflow problems:
• Remove or replace as many obstructions to airflow under floor as possible
• Fix under-floor air leaks primarily at cable and pipe penetrations and under racks
• Install missing blanking panels and side panels in server racks
• Re-locate floor tiles to balance under floor airflow
• Fix or replace leaking or broken floor tiles

A study conducted by Data Center Air Management Solutions (DCAMS) determined that Air-Guard cable grommets utilizing nylon brushes significantly reduced bypass airflow in all conditions by over 96% compared to a typical “open hole”.  The addition of the Air-Guard cable seal grommets resulted in a reduced overall temperature of an operating data center by 8 degrees Celsius (nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit).

As the U.S. Department of Energy points out, first address the low-cost solutions to airflow management, before undertaking more costly customized solutions with extensive construction costs.  And the simplest solutions involve installing missing blanking panels and side panels in server racks.  Fixing leaks in the raised floor, primarily at cable and pipe penetrations with cable seal grommets like Air-Guard Cable Seals and installing or relocating floor tiles to balance airflow.

Simple solutions to simple problems that even the government can agree with.

Ken Koty


For a copy of the complete DCAMS study follow this link.


For a copy of the complete Data Center Airflow Management Retrofit study conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) data center follow this link.

U.S. Department of Energy Study