The Advantages (And Disadvantages) Of Hot And Cold Aisle Containment Solutions

One of the biggest problems with IT equipment is overheating. In fact, over 65% of all IT failures are due in large part to inefficient or failed air conditioning within server rooms. When it comes to keeping your data center functioning as it should, you have a couple of options: hot aisle containment, and cold aisle containment. Both, if utilized correctly, can be effective methods of preserving your data center functions; however, each of these containment solutions come with a set of pros and cons that you should be aware of before deciding which is right for you.

Cold Aisle Containment Solutions

Cold aisle containment solutions are created by closing off the cold aisles within the data center. Cool air is then vented directly into these aisles, with the amount tailored to match the needs of your server’s airflow specifications.

A physical barrier constructed out of glass, plastic, or metal should also be added to the top and ends of the data center to ensure air temperature is maintained. It may be beneficial to invest in transparent barriers, rather than opaque, simply because you can more readily monitor or work inside the room without the need for additional lighting.

Some of the advantages of cold aisle containment solutions are:

  • They are easier to set up and don’t require any additional construction to contain vented air.
  • Doors are only required on the ends of the partitions and at the top.
  • They are usually more cost-effective.
  • Old data centers can be more readily converted to cold containment centers.

The main disadvantage of cold aisle containment solutions comes as a result of allowing discharged air from the hot aisle to fill the surrounding room. The air can be anywhere from 80 to 100 degrees, making it uncomfortable for some in the vicinity.

Hot Aisle Containment Solutions

Hot aisle containment solutions work by maintaining the heated air within the data center. The discharged air is filtered into the hot aisle and is then processed through specialized cooling equipment in the ceiling. The cooled air is then vented back into the room via raised floor ductwork or air conditioning units.

Some of the advantages of hot aisle containment include:

  • The open portion of the room serves as a cold environment.
  • The cooling tends to be more effective overall.
  • Can be successfully implemented in most data centers.
  • Standard methods of fire detection can be implemented.

The main disadvantage with this type is that when an aisle has to be accessed for routine maintenance it can be very uncomfortable. While this can be solved by providing temporary cooling, it is something to consider if you frequently need to access equipment.

Which Type Is Best?

Both containment options have pros and cons, and the best type for you will be based on your individual needs. For those who don’t want to add additional ventilation, or are trying to easily convert an old data center, cold air containment solutions are optimal. However, hot aisle solutions may be best for those don’t require frequent access to the equipment. Talk through your options and weigh the pros and cons. Both solutions can go a long way towards helping keep your servers functioning as they should.

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