The Rise Of Modular Cooling Technologies

Sep 30 2014

The diversity of data center design or requirements means that administrators must find new ways to deliver powerful HVAC solutions. New applications require flexibility and diversity in how organizations control their data center and environmental variables. With that in mind – how can an environment deploy powerful environmental controls while still staying innovative? What types of module-based systems exist to allow for rapid deployment, better management and greater efficiency?

In the past, the data center world has typically deployed two types of modular systems:

  • Containerized data centers combine the components of a data center into a self-contained unit, including servers, storage, networking equipment, power connections and a cooling system. The entire self-contained unit is installed in an outdoor location as a rapid response to increased capacity demands.
  • Prefabricated components that can quickly be built on site and added to as capacity is needed. Typically these modules are linked with a central operating building.

The advantages of modular data centers are rapid deployment, energy efficiency and lower cost than traditional brick-and-mortar construction. In addition, modular data centers offer an economy of scale that allows capacity to be added as it is needed so investment in infrastructure can be staged as well.

Modular innovations
With the advances in cooling innovations, data center operators can now take advantage of two additional types of modular technology as their need for capacity grows.

  • Modular chiller plant systems combine the components of a traditional mechanical room located inside a building in a sheet metal module. These module(s) can include a chiller, air handler, evaporator, piping, pumps, water treatment and controls. In addition, the more customizable models include economizers or free cooling technology to optimize energy savings.
  • Micro-module deployments with the ability to retrofit or even upgrade old fan systems with modern module-based cooling solutions. These types of solutions are re-engineering how you move air: compact, energy efficient, and with low sound levels. Platforms like the FANWALL® system allow data centers, as well as critical industrial environments from biotechnology and pharmaceuticals manufacturing, to deploy complex applications. Furthermore, these types of technologies break down large fan systems into smaller, more manageable fan arrays for easier and faster installation, added reliability, as well as improved airflow efficiency.

Using modular cooling to upgrade older fan technologies
Fan systems can be a major energy consumer in a cooling system. As your environment evolves with higher cooling loads, your data center environment will need to be updated as well to maintain reliability and manage operating costs. Module-based solutions now allow you to change out old fan systems with FANWALL retrofit modules. Each module fits through a standard-width doorway or service elevator. Using a FANWALL system to replace older, end-of-life fans in existing air handlers can be the most cost effective solution for avoiding the cost and business disruption of an air handler failure, while delivering energy savings as high as 40%.
Looked at synergistically, a data center breathes and moves air. The way you control the air in your data center can greatly impact efficiency, cost, and the impact on your organization. Ultimately, deploying the right type of modular solution can have direct positive impacts on the overall efficiency of your operating environment.

For more information on modular solutions from Nortek Air Solutions Data Center Products, please email us at

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