Air filters in data centres offer a host of solid business benefits in a whole range of different applications. Here, they can prevent expensive and disruptive equipment downtime and failure as well as shield against electromagnetic interference that causes data errors and equipment failure.
On top of this, they raise energy efficiency and lower energy bills. Statistics show that air filters can help reduce energy costs by two-fifths. Moreover, high energy efficiency rated filters reduce the carbon footprint of the facility, and flame-retardant air filters improve fire resistance.
Mission critical computers in data centres and the cooling needed to keep them running draw enormous quantities of power. It has, for example, been estimated that data centres consume 2% of all the electricity used in the United States, 32% of which is used by air conditioning systems.
In a bid to reduce the enormous cost associated with running these facilities, in locations with a naturally cool climate facility owners have turned to free air cooling. But the incoming air must be purified to protect the equipment. Indeed, data centre customers rely on air filtration to maintain the flow of clean air as well as the secure flow of data.
Particulate and gaseous contaminants pose a serious threat to this security. They can come from a range of places including indoor sources, people entering and exiting the building and from outdoor ventilation systems. These contaminants can result in equipment downtime, complete failure or, in the worst cases, complete loss of data.
The reasons? Server rooms may be exposed to high corrosion levels from particulate matter or molecular gas contamination with printed circuit boards, contacts and conductors most susceptible to damage. Other risks include obstruction of cooling air flow and deformation of surfaces and electrical impedance changes, circuit failure and burnout, with the associated fire risk.
Filters help provide a healthy, safe indoor environment free from harmful air contaminants. But beware. Regardless of the type of cooling or air handlings unit (AHUs) installed in a facility, to manage pressure drop and maintain as close to peak fan efficiency as possible, it’s imperative that the choice of filters used is carefully evaluated.
When you consider the number of filters needed in a system, guaranteed efficiency and total cost of ownership (TCO) are critical drivers for determining which filter is best.
Indeed, low cost, coarse fibre filters can lower efficiency and raise in pressure drop, resulting in increased fan energy consumption and shorter filter life. Although the upfront cost for these inferior filters may be lower, the TCO is higher.
As well as operating more energy efficiently, low average pressure-drop filters allow AHUs and fans to be downsized, saving operating costs and capital costs on initial installation.