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The Pros and Cons of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment Systems

hot or cold aisle containmentThe growing data center industry is going through collective changes. A shift toward hot or cold aisle containment systems for energy efficiency and servery longevity is rapidly becoming the norm. In fact, 80% of data centers either already utilize this technology or are considering adopting. The real question becomes hot or cold?

Hot Aisle Pros and Cons

  • Pro- In general, hot aisle systems are an extremely effective option. The low external temperature feeding into a hot aisle has a number efficiency advantages over cold aisles.
  • Pro- The largest area of the room is cold. Consequently, worker conditions will be more tolerable.
  • Pro- Safer for server rack enclosures that are outside of the enclosure. This is because they will be in a cold room.
  • Con- More expensive as a result of higher infrastructure complexity, installation costs, and enclosure severity.
  • Con- Extremely hot inside containment aisle. This makes repairs quite uncomfortable for repair technicians. There are, however, development efforts underway to mitigate this issue.

Cold Aisle Pro

  • Pro- Much easier to install, especially when upgrading an existing data center. Little additional infrastructure is necessary.
  • Pro- As a result of the relative ease of installation and fewer additional components, it is less expensive.
  • Pro- More surface area for cold sinks in the event of power outages.
  • Con- Heat. There will be a lot of it outside the cold aisle. Temperatures could be severe, resulting in more unusable space outside the containment aisle. While in hot aisle systems you can store server racks outside containment as well, cold aisle external temperatures forbid this strategy.
  • Con- Creates a ‘separate volume’ that could be a fire hazard. Smoke detecting and fire prevention infrastructure could be a sizable hidden cost.

Hot or Cold Aisle Containment?
The answer is still that it is largely dependent on space, budget, and current infrastructure. Though hot aisle is mostly considered the ‘better’ option, there is no real way of knowing before assessing your resources and the data center itself. If you would like further guidance in your decision, talk to AMCO today about custom hot and cold aisle containment solutions.




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