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Data center saves big with better airflow monitoring

RagingWire cuts energy bill $600,000 per year through data center cooling management. The data center colo facility team uses SynapSense's monitoring system, a Data Center Infrastructure Products of the Year winner.

James Kennedy, the senior facility manager at RagingWire, said the colocation company is saving more than $600,000 per year on cooling costs at its Sacramento, Calif.-based data center.

The 216,000-square-foot facility features 110,000 square feet of raised floor, designed to 200 watts per square foot power density.

Kennedy said precision airflow monitoring was key to shrinking RagingWire Enterprise Solutions Inc.'s energy demand. The company uses a wireless monitoring system from SynapSense Corp., a winner in the Data Center Infrastructure category for's 2009 Products of the Year awards.

Data center airflow monitoring boosts energy efficiency
By tightly monitoring data center environmental conditions, RagingWire can safely implement cutting-edge cooling best practices and track changes to make sure they work as designed.

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RagingWire uses SynapSense to monitor its data enter temperature, humidity and static pressure. This system has allowed Kennedy to increase chill-water supply temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a result, RagingWire has already saved more than $300,000 per year through chill-water temperature increases. "We have a better understanding of rack-by-rack temperature, which allowed us to increase our air supply temperatures and hence chilled-water temperatures," Kennedy said. RagingWire uses water-side economizers, and raising the chilled water temperature has doubled the number of water-side economizing operational hours. Use of the SnapSense tool has also allowed Kennedy to implement hot-aisle isolation, which has minimized wasted cooling, and improved airflow balance and static pressure on the data center floor.

"Through SynapSense and active static pressure monitoring, we were able to better seal our data center floor and increase pressures 30%," Kennedy said. That was almost double what was required, so RagingWire is outfitting its computer room air handling (CRAH) units with SynapSense sensors and variable-frequency drive fans.

"This will conservatively save over $2,000 in annual energy operating costs per CRAH with a 20% reduction in static pressure," Kennedy said. "With over 150 CRAHs, this equates to over $300,000 per year in energy savings as well as providing better operational response and wear on the machines."

These data center energy efficiency savings have come at a perfect time, since Kennedy said his electrical utility has warned of a 13% price increase over the next year.

The beauty of wireless sensors
Kennedy said RagingWire considered various wireless monitoring packages as well as several fixed monitoring packages, including one from its existing building management system vendor. But he picked SynapSense for several reasons.

Through SynapSense and active static pressure monitoring, we were able to better seal our data center floor and increase pressures 30%.
James Kennedy
senior facility managerRagingWire

For one thing, Installing and adjusting wireless sensors is significantly less expensive than using wired sensors, Kennedy said.

"Installation of the SynapSense wireless sensors at the rack level was easy," he said. "And we could install sensors on structural posts at our ceiling level, 32 feet off the deck -- and yes: We do care about the temperature way up there."

Kennedy also liked the wireless system's ability to easily and dynamically adjust and re-deploy sensors as his colocation customers install new equipment, or perform short-term surges for tech refreshes or testing.

"Change is constant in the data center, and a wireless sensor allows you to respond almost instantaneously to those changes that you may otherwise not have if you had to move and re-wire a fixed installation," Kennedy said. "The almost instantaneous dynamic deployment capability is what sets SynapSense apart."

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