White Paper Abstract

The Use of Outside Air Economizers In Data Center Environments

By: Staff

Compared to most types of commercial buildings, data centers are energy hogs. A large data center, for example, can easily consume as much electrical power as a small city.  Of all the facility’s HVAC equipment, the chiller is easily the largest energy consumer. As such, significant HVAC energy savings can be realized by reducing chiller energy. The fact that the most energy efficient chiller should be selected for the facility goes without saying. However, an even more important issue is that reducing the number of hours of chiller operation can have a larger impact on the reduction of that piece of the building energy pie than simply selecting a more energy efficient chiller.

An airside economizer takes advantage of the hours of the year during which the outdoor enthalpy (energy content) is less than the return air enthalpy. Under such outdoor conditions, using outdoor air reduces the load that would be experienced at the air handling unit when compared to using the return air flow.

When the outdoor enthalpy is less than the return air enthalpy AND higher than the supply air enthalpy, some mechanical cooling is still required in order to meet the requirements at the supply air set point. Under these circumstances, the chiller will be required to operate, though not at as high a load as would be required for a 100% return air system.  Significant energy savings can be realized whether a partial or full economizer is utilized.

However, are humidity and protection of the equipment put at risk?  What about regional factors?  Ultimately, reliability is still the name of the game. 

Syska’s Critical Facilities Team takes a look at airside economizers and the possibility of utilizing this method of energy reduction in a data center setting.

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