Machinery stored in data centers creates a lot of power, and subsequently, generates a lot of heat. This heat can impact the equipment, as their performance relies on being kept cool, and the presence of humidity can be detrimental. 

Even the most well-insulated buildings can struggle to maintain a steady interior temperature, so how can this be achieved when it’s so imperative the temperatures are accurate, and any changes can negatively impact the functionality and safety of essential data servers? 

Studies show that electronic components operate most effectively when kept within a specific, cool temperature range. Within data centers, large numbers of machines are kept in close proximity, and excessive heat can accelerate the aging process of the components – in turn reducing their lifespans. In worst case scenarios, electrical fires can break out if the devices fully overheat. This is obviously not only damaging for the equipment, but means the safety of employees is compromised too. 

The term data center cooling refers to the process of removing any excess heat from the interior atmosphere and replacing it with cooler air on a cycle. This is most commonly achieved with vents that simultaneously vacuum the warmer air from inside and introduce air from outside, cooling it and circulating it within the facility. Another method is to recycle the air inside with a method called hot and cold aisle design which involves intricately lining up server racks in alternating rows with cold air intakes facing each other to create ‘cold’ aisles, and the hot air exhausts also facing each other – the ‘hot’ aisles. 

The team at Armatherm has even seen methods which bypass costly air conditioning units altogether, and operators simply manage the interior environment as much as possible manually and replace equipment as and when it fails. In some cases, this works out more cost effectively than investing in expensive computer room air conditioning equipment, but it is obviously incredibly unsustainable, wasteful and can create large periods of downtime while units are repaired or replaced.

No matter which method is used, they all rely on being able to maintain the inside temperature of a data center, which is made incredibly more difficult if it has not been factored in at the design stages of a construction. 

Thermal bridging is the term coined to describe anywhere a transfer of energy takes place within a building envelope, these need to be addressed to ensure maximum efficiency within the structure. These can appear at any point that continuous insulation is interrupted, or in simpler terms, the building envelope is penetrated. Windows, doors, cladding, vent units, solar panels – any of these fixtures of features can be culprits in creating thermal bridges. 

A well known, effective and innovative solution to thermal bridging is thermal breaks, which can be installed at each point of compromise in the building’s envelope. They’re materials featuring low thermal conductivity properties that can be incorporated to help reduce energy loss. 

Not only will thermal breaks increase efficiency, they provide an economical benefit too, as they work to isolate the building envelope, less money will need to be spent on running costly vent units as the interior temperatures will be held more consistently. 

Armatherm’s thermal breaks can be included within a number of locations, such as foundations, roofing systems, masonry walls, cladding and more. They’re ideal for a whole host of applications that could potentially allow temperature transfer, meaning higher operational costs for ventilation equipment. Even the installation of CRAC units can benefit from thermal breaks, as they can be used within / alongside any fixture that penetrates the building envelope.

In recent years, it’s more and more frequent that data centers will be constructed in colder climates to mitigate temperature issues. Whilst they have not always seemed feasible due to the lack of proximity to IT teams and lack of power sources, both Facebook and Google have commissioned data centers in cooler climates, with Google using water as a method for cooling down inside temperatures. Although this is an obvious advantage, it’s recommended that temperatures don’t fluctuate more than five degrees within data centers, so thermal breaks still have a key part to play in isolating the inside from the out.

Thermal breaks are an essential tool in creating data centers with optimal operating conditions, enhancing equipment reliability, mitigating risks associated with overheating, and contributing to overall energy efficiency and economic sustainability. With a host of market-leading products and a team of experts on hand offering advice from the very start of a project, right through to the final build, you can rest assured you’re in safe hands with Armatherm.


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