Variable Speed Fans, EMS Reduce Data Center Cooling 66%

A study has found that upgrading fans and adding fan speed controls in a data center reduces the facility’s electrical energy usage and reduces average and peak electric power demand.

Digital Realty Trust, Vigilent Corporation, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory jointly conducted a study focused on significantly improving the energy efficiency of a data center designed, owned and operated by Digital Realty. The facility used for this initiative was Digital Realty’s 135,000-sq-foot data center located in El Segundo, Calif. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory monitored the overall effort, creating the baseline and result metrics, and acted as project manager for the energy efficiency grant awarded by the California Energy Commission’s PIER Program.

The project focused on replacing constant speed scroll fans with electronically commutated motor (ECM) variable speed fans of a more efficient design and deploying the Vigilent Intelligent Energy Management system to control fan speeds and computer room air handler (CRAH) output. Fans were replaced in a total of 82 CRAH, said Jim Smith, chief technology officer at Digital Realty.

Deployment of Vigilent’s software system resulted in a 66 percent drop in cooling energy usage, freeing stranded capacity while simultaneously expanding reserve cooling capacity. In addition, the software provided unprecedented visibility into data center thermal conditions, which led to additional energy savings as well as a significantly improved temperature distribution. Furthermore, power usage effectiveness (PUE) was improved by 8 percent to 1.46; 2.9 million kWh were saved annually after upgrading the CRAH equipment; and carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 1.9 million pounds per year.

The Vigilent EMS gives a quick, pictorial view of the heat profile in the room. “We can then perform management of various aspects of the room like perforated floor tiles, blanking plates, and possible containment of the cold isle to prevent the mixing of the cold and hot air in the data room,” said Smith. “This allows the room to operate more effectively and at the designed cooling capacity, which in the past would have been challenging in a colocation type environment.”

The full report – “Demonstration of Intelligent Control and Fan Improvements in Computer Room Air Handlers” is available on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s website.

Digital Realty Trust’s 110 properties comprise about 21.2 million square feet located in 32 markets throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

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