Too many data center managers operate from the perspective that colder is better. And, while it’s true — to a certain extent — equipment is happier when it’s colder, there is a point of diminishing returns after which energy costs are higher than they need to be to keep the center functioning at peak efficiency.

These tips will help you find the best balance between optimizing your data center cooling effort and managing energy consumption.

Install Evaporative Systems

Direct expansion AC relies upon a refrigerant to cool the air before it is admitted to the equipment. This can be quite effective — up to a point. While adequate for smaller centers, direct expansion’s scalability falls off when data centers begin to grow and/or experience computationally intensive workloads.

Many centers go to water-based systems to compensate, in which the direct expansion unit is employed to chill the water — which is then routed into copper coils. Hot air is drawn through those coils for cooling before being sent into the data center.

Supplementing the direct expansion system with an adiabatic system — one in which ambient air is passed through a wet filter before treatment — offers the potential for even greater efficiency. Air treated in this fashion enters the direct expansion system at a lower temperature, making it easier to process and more effective at cooling the racks.

Find and Eliminate Hotspots

It might be tempting to attribute the existence of hotspots in your data center to the lack of cooling capacity. However, more often than not it’s a function of airflow. In other words, air, while sufficiently chilled, is somehow being prevented from reaching the equipment.

Reconfiguring ducting to ensure cool air goes where it’s needed most is a great start. Further, placing cooling sources closer to the heat loads minimizes the potential for cool air to mix with hot air before it hits the racks. In-row and in-cabinet data center cooling systems are ideal for this, as virtually all of their output reaches the equipment.

Aisle containment is another smart play, in that it minimizes the potential for hot exhaust air to contaminate chilled intake air. Configuring your aisles so exhaust air is focused away from intakes creates a closed loop in which chilled air is focused on the gear and hot air is drawn away.

Go with a Variable Capacity Strategy

Old-school systems work at a prescribed pace, regardless of the load the center experiences. However, most centers experience lulls and peaks. Having the cooling system running full blast during a slow period wastes energy and money. A variable capacity system can be programmed to match demand.

Integrate Your DCIM

Is your center located in a hot climate, or a cold one? How big is your facility? What kind of equipment does it house? What is the density of the power draw? Is your rack footprint fixed, or does your center get reconfigured from time to time? Do your equipment requirements vary?

A good data center infrastructure management (DCIM) system will help you ensure adequate cooling by taking all of the above into consideration. What’s more, you can use a DCIM to record energy usage data and graph it to see the trends. Some even incorporate cooling system management.

Implementing these ideas for optimizing your data center cooling will improve the longevity of your equipment, minimize down times due to overheating and reduce your center’s energy consumption, which could make it a more profitable enterprise.