David Roden was a busy guy at the recent 2014 AHR Expo in New York, in part because I kept corralling him to shoot videos with me. Well, OK, only twice. The first was this one on EcoStream, which brings computation fluid dynamics (CFD) capabilities to the StruxureWare platform.
Second was a discussion we had about EcoBreeze, the modular, indirect evaporative data center cooling system that Roden was also talking up at the event. Schneider Electric announced it has significantly reduced the price of the product, by 30% to 35% depending on model.
Roden, who is Business Development Manager for Schneider’s Cooling Line of Business, explains that the unit sits outside a data center and completely replaces both the outside chiller plant and the indoor air conditioning units for the data center.
EcoBreeze has two economizer cooling modes, enabling it to run the majority of time in one of them – at least in many geographic areas. (For background on economizer mode, check out this post and/or Schneider Electric white paper number 132, “Economizer Modes of Data Center Cooling Systems.”)
The primary mode is evaporative cooling, where a mist of water is sprayed over an air-to-air heat exchanger. When it’s too cold for that, because the water would freeze, the unit switches to straight air-to-air cooling, meaning it just uses outside cold air. Should it get too hot for either mode, the unit has a compressor backup system that can provide traditional cooling.
EcoBreeze constantly monitors ambient conditions including air temperatures and humidity to determine the best mode in which to operate and switches among modes automatically, Roden says.
“It primarily wants to operate in evaporative cooling mode,” he says. “Any time temperatures outside are above 45 degrees [Fahrenheit], it’s going to try to spray water on the cooling coil to maximize cooling capacity and economization, and reduce the amount of fan power you need.”
Economizers are becoming more useful all the time. As John Tuccillo noted in a post last year:
No matter where you are on the planet, chances are you can be taking advantage of more “free” cooling than you currently are – in many cases, it’s all the cooling you’ll need.
That’s the upshot of the new Free Cooling maps published by The Green Grid, which take into account some new data center classifications published last year by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Those maps, along with the new data center classifications, add to the guidelines ASHRAE published in 2011 around acceptable temperatures inside data centers – temps that were significantly higher than what existed in most data centers at the time, and probably still.
“A typical data center in the Northeast or upper Midwest or virtually anywhere in Canada will see potential for 6000, 7000 even 8000 hours at full economizer through the year,” Roden says. “Their chiller plant will virtually never need to run to cool their data centers. This is a huge benefit in terms of operational savings.”
And a modular unit like EcoBreeze makes it quite easy to gain the benefits of economizer modes. While the units typically go into new data centers, Roden says in some instances they can also be retrofitted into existing data centers. It may well be worth your while to see if yours is a candidate, especially given the 30% or better price reduction for EcoBreeze.