TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Small Server Room Air Conditioning

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Network Infrastructure

Small Server Room Air Conditioning

Portable Cooling Units for Server Rooms

By the MacTech Magazine Editorial Staff

The A/C Problem

Providing air conditioning 24/7 for your server room is one of those invisible problems that you may not realize until it's too late. Add to it that 24/7 air conditioning involves a great deal of power consumption, so it can be a costly affair. Today more than ever, a lot of office buildings provide air conditioning only during the week, usually from 7am to 7pm. That's fine for humans. However, most of us still have cooling requirements for our server rooms that need not only 7 days a week, but need 24/7/365 as that's when there is heat generation.

Even if you put a handful of computers in a room, bad ventilation or inadequate air conditioning will melt your machines faster than a popsicle on a hot day. Bad environmental conditions in a server room can affect the life and reliability of your machines and their components. The machines might perform bizarrely, reboot, or crash altogether. Since server rooms are the lifeblood of any company, and damage costs could be very high not only in terms of replacing hardware, but also in terms of company productivity. And, as machines get faster, they've been getting hotter. So, rather than risk an IT meltdown, companies are choosing portable cooling units for their server rooms, being that they are more versatile, and can provide or supplement cooling more cost effectively.

Ventilation, The First Option

Before you even think about air conditioning, you should think about ventilation. You can accomplish a great deal with proper ventilation. Many people don't realize that air conditioners don't actually cool the air; they are really devices that transfer heat from one location to another. As a result, you can accomplish much of the same thing by simply venting the hot air out of your server room, and letting it suck in cooler air from the rest of your office.

Targeted A/C

But there are times that you either need to supplement your air conditioning, or have focused air conditioning, and many people are finding portable A/C units a good option.

In looking around, we found a company called Sunpentown that made some of the highest efficiency portable A/C units. Specifically, we chose the WA-1010H Sunpentown (SPT) portable A/C with heater, with a 10,000 BTU cooling and heating capacity, as one such option. This unit provides cooling, dehumidifying, and fan features all in one.

Energy Efficiency Rating

All cooling units have an EER (Energy Efficiency Rating). Most people naturally believe that units with a higher EER consume less energy than units with a lower EER. But actually, EER is not necessarily a good measurement to determine energy usage, unless you are comparing the same size of unit. The EER is calculated by taking the units potential BTU's and dividing it by the total wattage consumed.

For example, let's compare two units: a 12,000 BTU unit using 900 watts with an EER of 13.33 and a 9,000 BTU unit using 900 watts with an EER of 10. Here the power usage is the same even though the 12k unit has a higher EER. Most people would choose the 12k unit, since you get more cooling for the same energy usage.

However, for our test server, we chose the SPT WA-1010H unit, with a 10,000 BTU cooling/heating capacity, and an EER of 15.5 (normally, this would be a room that you would ideally cool or heat an area up to 300sq.ft. but server rooms have a higher heat load). We compared it to an older Sharp model (model CV - P09FX) with an almost 9000 BTU cooling capacity, and an EER of 8.9.

Both units were tested in a small server "room" (about 40 square feet with 15 computing devices). Clearly, the SPT cooled quickly and efficiently, and the Sharp would take much longer to cool the room before shutting it off. Because the SPT would start and stop more often (compressors take a lot of energy to start), it actually used about the same electricity as the far less efficient Sharp.

The SPT is the better choice for the server room as it will keep your temperatures much more consistent even with the variations of heat load that tend to happen. In the end, however, if your primary goal is energy efficiency, you would want the smaller BTU capacity while maintaining a higher EER.

Trial and Error, Reliability vs. Efficiency

Finding the right cooling unit can, unfortunately, be a process of trial and error. Different server rooms will have different requirements and heat loads. The first cooling unit or solution you try, may not always be the right size. In fact, we had to test a couple of different units to find ones that best suited our test case.

Along with efficiency and reliability considerations, you need to figure out the size of the cooling unit you will need. That may seem simple enough. After all, you just have to add together all the sources of heat and find an air conditioning unit that can take care of it. But, in practice, it's just a little bit more complicated.

Apart from temperature of both the server room and the machines, you also need to keep in mind air flow and humidity factors. It is important to maintain a consistent air flow, since moving air cools faster than air that stands still. Cooling units that come with fans can help decentralize hot spots, by providing a form of forced convection. As for the humidity factor, computers operate within a wide humidity range. Avoiding condensation is the key factor here. Also remember that sometimes when air conditioning units fail, they cause leakages and spills, so you might also want to think about how you position your cooling unit as well.

While choosing an efficient cooling unit is significant, for server rooms, reliability of the unit is more important. It is therefore more advisable to go with a unit that has an auto-restart option (in the event of a power failure), and that has more than enough capacity to handle varying heat loads.

Sunpentown's Solutions

While our test was on the WA-1010, if your room is a little larger, you may want to look at the WA-1300E, a newer model from Sunpentown that comes with the Restart IC feature. This model has a cooling power of 13,000 BTU, and is designed to cool an area of up to 420 square feet, has 3 fan speeds, and larger casters. Apart from these features, the WA-1300 E shares similar features as the WA-1010 units, such as:

  • Self evaporating system - during the cooling process, water is extracted from the air into the unit. Most of this water is then recycled and used to cool the cooling coils and make it run more efficiently, cooling as well as energy.

  • Digital temperature display and multiple fan speeds.
  • Activated carbon filter helps remove odor.
  • Washable air filter collects dust particles.
  • Digital thermostat with remote control.
  • Choice of programmable timer or continuous operation.
  • Directional air discharge louvers.
  • Extendable exhaust hose (up to 5ft.)
  • Built-in water tank or extended water tube for continuous drainage.

Both of these models are great products, and will do a good job cooling your server room. Make sure to take into account where you are going to vent, and that you have enough power in the room to run these devices.

For detailed specifications, you can check out the following URLs on the Sunpentown website:

The SPT WH-1010H retails at $450 and the WH-1300E model retails at $569.


MacTech Magazine Editorial Staff

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BBEdit 11.6.6 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Brackets 1.9.0 - Open Source Web design...
Brackets is an Open-Source editor for Web design and development built on top of Web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The project was created and is maintained by Adobe, and is... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.3.4 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.7.1a - GUI for OpenVPN.
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.3.5721 - Amazon-based com...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more
Posterino 3.3.7 - Create posters, collag...
Posterino offers enhanced customization and flexibility including a variety of new, stylish templates featuring grids of identical or odd-sized image boxes. You can customize the size and shape of... Read more
Airmail 3.2.9 - Powerful, minimal email...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Arq 5.8.4 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.39 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Arq 5.8.4 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Clash of Clans' gets a huge new upd...
Clash of Clans just got a massive new update, and that's not hyperbole. The update easily tacks on a whole new game's worth of content to the hit base building game. In the update, that mysterious boat on the edge of the map has been repaired and... | Read more »
Thimbleweed Park officially headed to iO...
Welp, it's official. Thimbleweed Park will be getting a mobile version. After lots of wondering and speculation, the developers confirmed it today. Thimbleweed Park will be available on both iOS and Android sometime in the near future. There's no... | Read more »
Pokémon GO might be getting legendaries...
The long-awaited legendary Pokémon may soon be coming to Pokémon GO at long last. Data miners have already discovered that the legendary birds, Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos are already in the game, it’s just a matter of time. [Read more] | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
If you’ve got the Monday blues we have just the thing to cheer you up. The week is shaping up to be a spectacular one for sales. We’ve got a bunch of well-loved indie games at discounted prices this week along with a few that are a little more... | Read more »
Honor 8 Pro, a great choice for gamers
Honor is making strides to bring its brand to the forefront of mobile gaming with its latest phone, the Honor 8 Pro. The Pro sets itself apart from its predecessor, the Honor 8, with a host of premium updates that boost the device’s graphical and... | Read more »
The 4 best outdoor adventure apps
Now that we're well into the pleasant, warmer months, it's time to start making the most of the great outdoors. Spring and summer are ideal times for a bit of trekking or exploration. You don't have to go it alone, though. There are plenty of... | Read more »
Things 3 (Productivity)
Things 3 3.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $7.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Meet the all-new Things! A complete rethinking of the original, award-winning task manager – with a perfect balance between... | Read more »
Oddball mash-up Arkanoid vs Space Invade...
In a move no one was really expecting, Square Enix has put forth an Arkanoid/Space Invaders mash-up aptly titled Arkanoid vs Space Invaders. The game launched today on both iOS and Android and the reviews are actually quite good. [Read more] | Read more »
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders (Games)
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: LAUNCH SALE: GET THE GAME AT 20% OFF! Two of the most iconic classic games ever made meet in Arkanoid vs Space... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
Things got off to a bit of a slow start this week, but as we steadily creep towards Friday a bunch of great games have started cropping up. If you're looking for a quality new release to play this weekend, we've got you covered. Here's a handy... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

touchbyte Releases PhotoSync 3.2 for iOS With...
Hamburg, Germany based touchbyte has announced the release of PhotoSync 3.2 for iOS, a major upgrade to the versatile and powerful app to transfer, backup and share photos and videos over the air.... Read more
Emerson Adds Touchscreen Display and Apple Ho...
Emerson has announced the next evolution of its nationally recognized smart thermostat. The new Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat combines proven smarthome technology with a color touchscreen display and... Read more
SurfPro VPN for Mac Protects Data While Offer...
XwaveSoft has announced announce the release and immediate availability of SurfPro VPN 1.0, their secure VPN client for macOS. SurfPro VPN allows Mac users to protect their internet traffic from... Read more
13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
Tuesday deal: $200 off 27-inch Apple iMacs
Amazon has select 27″ iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP, each including free shipping: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1799 $200 off MSRP Keep an eye on our... Read more
Five To Six Million 10.5-inch iPad Pro Tablet...
Digitimes’ Siu Han and Joseph Tsai report that upstream supply chain shipments for Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro have been increasing, with monthly shipment volume expected to hit 600,000 units by... Read more
Georgia Tech Students Win Toyota and Net Impa...
Earlier this year, a team of students at Georgia Tech realized that there was a critical gap in transportation services for people who use wheelchairs, and wondered if the solution could be in the... Read more
13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale...
Amazon has the 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLL42LL/A) on sale for $1299.99 including free shipping. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s currently the lowest price available... Read more
Roundup of 15-inch MacBook Pro sale prices, m...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A) on sale for $1849 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $150 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Technical Support - Atrilogy (United...
Our direct client is looking for an Apple Technical Support / Apple Help Desk Specialist for a Full Time Direct Hire role in West Los Angeles by Playa Vista, CA Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
Director *Apple* Platform, IS Data Manageme...
…a real difference. Come, shine with us! Astellas is announcing a Director Apple Platform, IS Data Management Lead opportunity in Northbrook, IL. Purpose & Scope: Read more
Director *Apple* ERP Integration Lead - Ast...
…make a real difference. Come, shine with us! Astellas is announcing a Director Apple ERP Integration Lead opportunity in Northbrook, IL. Purpose & Scope: This role Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.