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Air Flow Optimization for Data Centers

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Why is optimizing the airflow in a datacenter important?

Because datacenter operators can spend up to 40% of their energy cost on cooling their facilities to the optimal operating temperature, it’s critically important to ensure that the cooling equipment is operating at peak efficiency. An important part of keeping the cooling systems operating efficiently is airflow management.

Strategies to optimize your airflow:

There are many techniques that can be used to optimize the air flow in a datacenter. The most important factor is having the DC properly designed from the start with airflow optimization in mind. 

Some solutions to optimizing your airflow:

  • Placement of cooling units: Place the cooling units in locations where the airflow will be able to reach all parts of the DC efficiently

  • Hot aisle/cold aisle equipment configuration: This will allow the hot air from the back of the cabinets to be contained and returned to the cooling unit through a return air plenum. Cool air from the cooling unit is also supplied from under the raised floor to the front of the equipment cabinets. This helps eliminate hot air and cold air from mixing and takes advantage of natural convection.

  • Raised floor congestion: Re configuration of under floor cabling to elevated cable trays to eliminate congestion and allow better air movement under the raised floor. Removing unused cables and bundling the remaining cables can also help airflow under the raised floor.

  • Perforated tile placement: Placing perforated raised floor tiles in the correct location based on heat load demand from the IT equipment.

  • Temperature / Air flow monitoring: Having constant temperature and air flow monitoring in place allows the DC operator to react quickly to changing site conditions

  • Hot aisle/cold aisle containment: Depending on the configuration of the data center, hot aisle or cold aisle containment can greatly increase the efficiency of the cooling units.

Benefits of optimizing your airflow:

The greatest benefit to optimizing your datacenter airflow will be reduced cooling cost. By having cold air evenly distributed in the DC, hot spots will be reduced or eliminated which will avoid the need to install temporary or portable cooling units. 

Having optimized airflow would also allow a DC operator to review the temperature setpoint of the facility and possible increase it which will allow greater energy savings while not threatening the IT equipment from overheating.

Another benefit of having optimized airflow is that DC operators are able to increase their power density per rack without concern that they will introduce hot spots.


Considering the substantial cost that data center operators allocate to cooling their facilities and the ever-increasing cost of energy, it’s ever more important that DC’s are operating at peak efficiency. Air flow optimization is critical to a data center achieving a PUE that is within industry standards and reducing operating cost.

Tom Devost, Product Implementation Missing Link Technologies Ltd.

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