Is Free Cooling Really Free?

Free Cooling - Data Center Economization

What is Free Cooling?

The concept of ‘free cooling’, or perhaps better put, economization solutions, really deserves some definition. First of all, did you know that free cooling is now virtually mandated by the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1[1]? Did you also know that free cooling helps save energy and will be deployed within all data center environments?

The cost structure is the real impact of this kind of technology. The kinds of cost savings you’ll achieve from deploying this kind of energy efficiency technology will help offset the capital costs of deploying it in the first place.

So, what is free cooling and how does it impact your data center? TechTarget defines free cooling as “an approach to lowering the air temperature in a building or data center by using naturally cool air or water instead of mechanical refrigeration. In actual practice, free cooling is not entirely free, because pumps, fans and other air/water-handling equipment is needed.” Generally, it comes from the use of air-side and water-side economizers. From there, air-side economizers work in two ways. Mainly, they use direct fresh-air cooling by filtering (and possibly adjusting the humidity of) outside air, which is ducted in to cool the data center. In cold climates, it may even be warmed by the hot air being expelled, to prevent over-cooling. Air side economizers can also work without bringing direct air into the data center, but by heat transference from warmer inside air to cooler outside air.

That means, for now, water-side economizers will probably be a popular choice. Here’s the cool part – because of higher operating temperatures within the data center, operators will be able to adopt more free cooling solutions. Not just that, they’ll be able to do so in more diverse climates than ever before.

To learn more about new economization solutions that may surprise you, download our free guide.