HVAC in data processing spaces

By Selele Mashilo
Data processing system areas are spaces containing computer equipment, as well as the necessary ancillary equipment to meet a data-processing function.

Operating computers generates heat and their components are sensitive to extreme temperatures, humidity and the presence of dust. To avoid a complete system shutdown or malfunctions, the spaces containing computer equipment must be closely monitored in terms of temperature, humidity and cleanliness. Manufacturers of computer server rooms will normally specify the operating conditions of their equipment, which must be adhered to. The air-conditioning system designed must be able to maintain prescribed conditions continuously.

Design Criteria

The data processing spaces housing computer equipment and personnel require air conditioning to maintain space conditions for both personnel comfort and for the computers themselves. The conditions of the space housing computers may vary. Conditioned air may be supplied to the space to maintain a particular temperature and humidity of the room or in some cases the conditioned air must be supplied directly to the computer equipment.

Typical computer room design conditions

  • Temperature set point    22⁰C ±1⁰C
  • Relative humidity set point 50% ±5%
  • Filtration quality (dust spot efficiency) 45% (minimum 20%)

 Design conditions for air supplied directly to computer equipment

  • Temperature 16⁰C
  • Relative humidity maximum of 65%
  • Filtration quality 45%

 Air-conditioning systems

The air-handling equipment for computer rooms should be independent of other systems in the building. The system is normally automated and should provide filtration, cooling and dehumidification or humidification and heating of air. In some spaces where the server rooms are very small, the complete air control may not be achieved, and only temperature control is considered. Where the server room is large and control is critical, a standby power supply is required where the system is run continuously without interruption. The standby power will be for both the server room and the air-conditioning system.

Computer rooms are being served successfully by various air-conditioning systems that include complete self-contained package units with refrigeration system installed in the same space where computers are place, or with chilled water air handlers, and the package unit remotely installed and air ducted into the space.



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