Data Center Air Flow System Commitment

Is the reason for the replacement based on a corporate drive for energy reduction and carbon footprint reduction?

Buying new cooling units is a large and long-term commitment with an expected life of 15 to 20 years. Cooling technology is rapidly changing from traditional air flow systems to more precision cooling to meet the need of higher rack heat densities.  Rear door heat exchangers and immersion cooling are gaining traction as they can better meet increasing rack heat loads.

Is now the time to make a large investment in traditional air based cooling technology that may not meet your cooling needs within a few years? How will your data center heat profile change in 5 to 7 years?

There is an energy efficient alternative to that large investment that will give you the time to evaluate where the data center cooling market is going and what will best meet your cooling needs.

Prior to 2016 CRAC units were equipped with the traditional mechanical expansion valve, operating with fixed head pressures regardless of the ambient temperature. In the hottest day of the year and the coldest day of the year, energy consumption was consistent.

In 2016 Emerson Climate Technology introduced the concept of “Low Condensing Refrigeration” which refers to the practice of actively tracking ambient temperatures down to a minimum setpoint in order to “float the head pressure” in cooling applications. The introduction of the Emerson electronic expansion valve (EXV), versus the original mechanical expansion valve, allows continuous fluctuations in condensing points to reduce minimum levels which are more closely aligned with ambient temperatures. EXV’s have been adopted in most CRAC units since 2017, enabling a significant reduction in energy consumption.

“Low condensing refers to the practice of actively tracking ambient temperatures down to a minimum setpoint in order to float the head pressures. This technology helps reduce energy consumption by up to 50% in refrigeration systems and up to 30% in AC systems, resulting in long-term energy savings and operational efficiencies.”

– Low Condensing Refrigeration - Emerson Climate Technologies 2016

By retrofitting older units with the EXV, floating the head pressure is achieved resulting in energy savings of 30% or more. To date we have retrofitted over 225 CRAC units, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old.

The floating head retrofit takes about 4 days per unit. The result will be immediate energy savings. The life of the unit will be extended as it is not working as hard and the payback on the investment will be short, often 2 years or less. It is a much more economically viable option than the capital intensive and disruptive alternative of a replacement cooling unit.

Does it make sense to make a large financial commitment to air cooled technology that may not meet your cooling needs within a few years. By economically retrofitting existing cooling units you will achieve both a significant energy savings and carbon footprint reduction, due to the removal of unnecessary refrigerant. The floating head retrofit will extend the life of the existing unit, buying you the time to determine how your data center will evolve and which cooling technology is most appropriate.

An added benefit of the retrofit is if the CRAC units are currently using R22 refrigerant, which is being phased out, it can be replaced with R407C refrigerant, extending the usable life of the unit – deferring capital cost and disruption of installing new units.

Additional benefits beyond significant energy savings and improved PUE include:

  • Extended compressor and system life – more time to assess how cooling technology will evolve
  • Significant reduction in carbon footprint due to reduction in refrigerant
  • Reduced maintenance due to reduced wear
  • Extended usable life of unit with replacement refrigerant

Check out the Resources page of www.sct-inc.com for more information on the Floating Head Retrofit.

How do I learn more about this retrofit?

Contact SCTi today to determine if you are eligible for this retrofit. Call us at 1-866-831-4775 or send us an email: info@sct-inc.com

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