A raised floor is an elevated floor that is built two inches to four feet above a concrete floor. It creates a space that can be used for cooling, electrical, and mechanical services. In data centers, raised floors are also used as a plenum chamber to distribute cold air. By using a raised floor, you will not only reduce the amount of air needed, you will require less energy and improve temperature distribution across all of the cabinets.
“The installation of a raised floor system can change the thermal behaviour of the building by reducing the interaction between heat gains and the thermally massive concrete slab,” according to Influence of raised floor on zone design cooling load in commercial buildings.
Servers in data centers create heat, making a common problem for data center managers, whose job is to keep equipment cool. When servers overheat a common reaction is to consider getting extra cooling capacity, because they don’t think their existing system is maintaining a proper temperature. In reality, it may not be insufficient capacity that is causing the problem, but poor airflow management.
In order to keep the data center cool, a common practice is to install perforated floor tiles within cold aisles. These perforated tiles typically are not installed in hot aisles, unless you have a maintenance tile. These maintenance tiles give employees access in a warmer environment, so they can work in comfort. However, these maintenance tiles should not remain there permanently.
Sometimes grates are used as a quick fix for hot spots in a data center. However, a grate can allow up to three times more air than the perforated raised floor tile, it’s possible that it will exacerbate the issue.
It’s also critical that you manage the placement of raised floor tiles. If you don’t install enough tiles, it can cause recirculation. If you install too many, it can allow air bypass. If you must make a choice between recirculation and bypass, then bypass is preferable.
Having a raised floor also makes it easier to do equipment upgrades. This can include the installation of cabling and redeveloping the premises for other purposes. A raised floor is a good design strategy when you have a large number of cables to run. This is more efficient and can cost less than systems that are mounted near the ceiling. It can also help with the number of hidden cables and consolidation of physical ports and power plugs.
Cleaning underneath your raised floors helps keep out pollutants. Dust will get underneath the raised floor and can then flow into equipment. The good news is that most data centers adhere to a regular policy of cleaning underneath the raised floors. This ensures the space created in the raised floor is clean and free of contaminants, reducing the change of dirty air getting pushed into server, which can increase the risk of equipment failure.
When you set up an initial design for a raised floor, you should consider the following:
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