Are overcrowded data centers becoming too hot to handle? Sometimes — especially in businesses with traditional under-floor air distribution systems and small server rooms.

Dennis P. Sczomak, vice president at Troy, Mich.-based engineering firm Peter Basso Associates, suggests the addition of a high-density cooling system to supplement traditional systems in overcrowded and overheated equipment rooms. High-density cooling systems use piped refrigerant to cool local hot spots. Sczomak explains, “It's a cooling unit that typically sits directly adjacent to the data cabinets, that takes warm air and cools it down locally, but it uses a refrigerant that cannot leak onto the equipment and damage it.”

Sczomak offers the following advice to ensure adequate and effective cooling for data centers:

Think ahead

Most data centers will continue to generate more heat and demand additional cooling over time. Be sure to assess the existing load and make a projection of the future load to determine if the capacity of the infrastructure will be sufficient.

Out with the old

When equipment is replaced, be sure to remove all of the old equipment and cables. This can improve the flow of air and the effectiveness of the cooling system.

Unit placement

The placement of the cooling unit can determine how efficiently the space is cooled. Ideally, a cooling unit should take air in from the hot aisles — the aisles where the backs of the equipment face each other — and blow it into cool aisles, where the front sides of the equipment face each other. “That way, the insides of their data cabinets can remain cooler while not having to reduce the overall temperature of the space,” Sczomak says.