Data Center Design: How to Control Humidity Levels

well-designed office spaceWhen relative humidity drops below 40%, data centers may encounter static electrical charges that could damage servers and other IT equipment. This is why data center management experts constantly reinforce the fact that maintaining the right humidity level is important. It reduces server downtime, energy consumption, carbon footprints, and the use of HVAC systems.

High humidity levels cause condensation that could lead to corrosion, while low humidity stimulates the buildup of electrostatic charge. To prevent these from happening, you can read this short guide:

Absolute Humidity

People who work in data centers measure humidity levels to make sure that it stays within the 45% to 55% range. Maintaining this standard, however, is difficult. Relative humidity measures the percentage of water vapor that the air can hold. If the temperature inside the data center changes, the moisture will change as well. This is why many use absolute humidity as an alternative. Also known as dew point, it helps you measure the humidity levels regardless of how cold or warm it is.

Steam Humidifiers

These allow you to control the data center’s humidity requirements, including HVAC systems. Experts usually install these in air-handling units of central air conditioning systems. The air inside the data center should meet specific temperature requirements for moisture to evaporate. If steam humidifiers aren’t available, use cold-water evaporative tools or spray humidifiers instead.

Evaporative Cooling

Data centers rely on the quality of outdoor air temperature as well. At night or during mild winter conditions, some experts use airside economizers to let cold air pass through. This way, they can use the cold air as a low-cost, alternative cooling option. These allow about 12 degrees Celsius of evaporative cooling, allowing the air conditioning systems to rest and avoid overheating.

Humidity is always present in your data center, but it won’t harm your equipment if you control it properly. Consult with businesses offering data center operations management and monitoring for more information.

Resources:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/pdfs/eedatacenterbestpractices.pdf
http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/feature/Trends-in-data-centers-Adiabatic-cooling-DP-humidity-control-and-more
http://www.datacenterjournal.com/data-center-management-2/data-center-management/