Data center climate control is an ongoing challenge that affects uptime, equipment life, cost and resource usage. These facilities need stable environmental conditions to protect their equipment from damage and reduce unplanned downtime. They also need to be energy efficient to help control costs and preserve resources.
Here are some of the ways that using inexpensive, quick-to-install wireless sensors for data center condition monitoring can improve real-time performance, preserve equipment, reduce costs and prevent acute problems.
Real-time wireless temperature and humidity monitoring delivers fine-grained visibility
The biggest environmental issue for data centers is preventing servers and other equipment from overheating. It’s a particular challenge because equipment generates heat as it operates, often in highly localized areas. To prevent equipment damage and reduce the risk of fires caused by overheating, data centers need visibility into the temperature of each piece of equipment.
Remote wireless temperature and humidity sensors are the quickest and most cost-effective way to gain this visibility. By deploying remote temperature and moisture sensors to the exact locations where heat is created and condensation may form, managers gain access to real-time, continuously updated readings and trends as data builds up over time.
The fine-grained data delivers benefits right away, such as:
Generating alerts via text, voice or email when equipment temperature is out of range. Knowing exactly when a problem arises can prevent heat damage to servers and, in extreme cases, can prevent fires.
Generating alerts when humidity levels are out of range. Ambient humidity can cause problems, but so can localized condensation which occurs when temperatures fluctuate. Humidity sensors can flag these issues for managers so they can take preventive measures. Humidity and moisture sensors can also alert data center staffers to more acute problems like cooling system leaks.
Identifying specific servers, racks, or aisles where excess heat is a problem. When managers can see the hot spots inside their facility, they can take steps to correct the issue before it turns into a full-fledged problem. This could mean replacing malfunctioning equipment, adding targeted cooling devices or rerouting airflow to reduce heat buildup.
Bridging the staffing gap. The demand for data center capacity is growing rapidly. At the same time, a wave of data center workers is reaching retirement age during a period of historically low unemployment. All of that means “there are more servers than people to manage them.” Wireless temperature and humidity sensors deliver highly localized data and can reduce the employee hours required to check conditions. Sensor data can also save staff time by preventing unplanned outages.
Remote wireless sensors support efficiency gains over time
Along with the immediate benefits of real-time temperature and humidity data, sensors can also help data centers achieve becoming more efficient over time.
One way is by helping centers maintain more consistent in-range temperatures and humidity levels. Equipment is more likely to last in an environment with fewer fluctuations and consistency can reduce equipment repair and replacement costs. When there are less unplanned downtime, customer satisfaction and lifetime value increases.
As sensors build a database of historical readings, data centers gain the ability to see trends in the data and make improvements to increase the center’s energy efficiency. One key area where sensor data can make an impact is finding and maintaining the ideal equipment temperature. Despite the need to protect servers and other gear from overheating, many data centers keep their air temperature lower than it needs to be.
According to one data center product manufacturer, “monitoring air density and temperature can make a significant difference in efficiency.” When cooler intake air is kept separate from hotter exhaust, less energy is needed for cooling. And intake air is often cooled more than it needs to be for proper equipment function.
In 2019, data center server manufacturer Supermicro surveyed more than 1,300 data center and IT pros at businesses of all sizes worldwide. They found that the average data center server inlet temperature was 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit. However, among data centers qualified as “green,” the average server inlet temperature was more than 79.7 degrees. Supermicro calculated that, in combination with efficient layouts and higher power density ratings per rack, these green data centers saved an average of $470,000 annually on power effectiveness.
Of course, no data center manager wants to risk equipment damage by simply raising intake temperature and seeing what happens. However, by deploying remote temperature monitors on equipment, managers can monitor the effect of small, calibrated air temperature adjustments by reaching a temperature to maximize equipment function and energy efficiency.
Learn more about how wireless temperature and humidity sensors can benefit your data center.