Improving the Cooling Efficiency of Existing Raised Floor Systems with Grommets

 

One of the biggest issues data centers and office buildings face is effectively cooling active equipment. While cool air is designed to move through raised floor systems to cool equipment, data shows that up to 60% of available cooling capacity is instead bypassing the very equipment it is supposed to cool. This bypass air may be caused by improperly positioned perforated computer floor tiles as well as unsealed cutout spaces in the data center floor tiles under cabinets or racks to route cables. This bypass air weakens the efficiency of raised floor systems and may even increase network downtime. 

One of the most cost-effective solutions to improve cooling efficiency is raised floor grommets, which are a reliable and effective addition to any data center solution. 

The Cost of Unsealed Holes in Your Raised Floor

Every piece of equipment has cables transferred into underfloor trays and the largest of these, such as power cords and patch cords, are usually routed into raised floor systems through cutout spaces in the computer floor tiles. 

These spaces are usually left unsealed, or with gaps large enough to allow bypass air. Even further cool air can escape through poorly sealed spaces within cabinets and racks. All of this leakage has a huge impact on cooling cost, while the extra repair and replacement necessary from heat exposure further increases costs and reduces network uptime. 

How Grommets Can Optimize Energy Use

This energy loss from bypass air is easy to avoid with air sealing grommets. As an example, a 5,000 square foot data center with 150 open cutouts would waste approximately $7,000 per year in extra utility costs from bypass airflow, as well as premature wear on equipment. 

If the same data center improves its computer raised floor by sealing the cutouts, bypass airflow is eliminated and the cool air will cool equipment as intended, saving $7,000 annually for a one-time modest investment. 

Along with increasing the capacity of an existing cooling unit, grommets can reduce the need to buy additional cooling units and perforated panels, improve equipment reliability and extend the life of equipment while also increasing static pressure under raised floor systems. 

Effective Use of Grommets

Air sealing grommets are truly an essential part of any efficient raised floor systems, although the seal must maintain its efficiency. There are many types of grommets available, one of the most popular of which is the brush style with specialized overlapping thick bristles to block air flow. This type is most effective when no cables pass through or cables are centered in the grommet. If cables are located in the corner of the grommet, or the grommet itself isn't positioned well, its sealing efficiency will potentially go down to 85%. 

Old-fashioned floor grommets from an outdated computer raised floor should also be upgraded to a new model that's retro-fittable to optimize a current cooling infrastructure, reduce equipment heat loads and improve overall reliability. 

 

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