08/06/2021

Using Power and Temperature Sensors To Improve Data Centre Uptime

Server rooms and data centres rely on their cooling systems to remove the heat generated principally by the servers, storage and IT peripherals installed in server racks. When are approved to provide a monitoring solution, often this is for temperature and humidity within the area but where possible we also recommend monitoring power and specially to loads that are not protected by an uninterruptible power supply. There are two ways to monitor these types of essential and non-essential loads.

Environmental Monitoring Devices with Signal Contact Interfaces

The first is to pick up a volt-free signal contact. Most of the environmental monitoring systems we supply have digital input terminals. One or more of these can be connected to devices installed with signal contact alarm interfaces. Most server room air conditioners will feature an interface card from which alarm status signals are generated via a relay closing (Normally Open, NO) or opening (Normally Closed, NC).

Active Power and Temperature Sensors

Avtech have gone one step further and introduces a Digital Active Power and Temperature sensor for use with Room Alert devices. The sensor has a built-on temperature monitor and can also detect power when placed near a power cord or mains power supply cable where the load draw is more than 100Watts of electrical power.

The Avtech digital active power and temperature sensor is ideal for clients who want server room temperature and power monitoring but do not want to have to power down their devices to connect a sensor in series wit their critical loads. They need a system that can be deployed without load interruption.

The digital active power and temperature sensors provide real-time power and temperature monitoring. The monitoring sensor can be strapped to an electrical power cord and if the devices draws more than 100Watts, the Active Power Sensor will detect this and show the current power status as ‘Active’.

Avtech Video on Youtube

Monitoring HVAC Systems

Heat in a server room or data centre can rapidly build and present a fire risk. It is the primary reason for installing some form of cooling (air or liquid) and air conditioning systems. The temperature sensor built into the Digital Power and Temperature sensor from Avtech can measure local temperatures from -40 to +85⁰C within ±2⁰C. More than one of these sensors can be connected to a compatible Room Alert device allowing multiple power supplies and temperature points to be monitored simultaneously.

The sensor when placed next to a power supply to an HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system can detect when there has been a power failure, allowing an alarm conditioned to be raised and before temperatures start to rise. This allows corrective action to be taken within what could be a small opportunity window.

An example would be a server room or data centre with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and a standby power generator. The UPS system will provide power to the critical loads including servers, storage, and IT peripherals. Essential loads and some non-essential loads may be supported by the generator. If the generator fails to start on a mains power supply failure, the air conditioners will stop, and the digital active power and temperature sensor can immediately provide this data to a connected Room Alert device. If the generator cannot be manually started, the facility must be powered down or temporary portable cooling brought-in if there is time.

Alternatively, where the facility does not have a standby generator and only UPS power protection, essential and non-essential loads can be monitored for power failure and notifications provided. This may be the case for smaller computer rooms and server rooms where heat load demands, and temperature rises are forecast to be not excessive if there is no air conditioning but only temporarily. If there is a prolonged power outage, portable AC units may be on hand, or the IT servers must be powered down.

Data Centre Building Heating Systems

Outside the IT environment, the digital active power and temperature sensor can be used to monitor electrical supplies to heating systems. In cold climates their use within a building may required to maintain and suitable office temperature and ensure that pipes do not freeze which could lead to water leakage within the facility.

Actively monitoring power usage can also help to improve energy efficiency within a building. HVAC systems demonstrating abnormal cycling will raise electricity bills and may indicate a need for preventative maintenance or some other corrective action(s) to be taken. Irregular AC unit cycling can also lead to excessive wear and tear on internal electrical and mechanical elements, which can lead higher maintenance costs and a shorter working life.

Retail and Medical Supply Chains

Within retail, medical supplies and health industries, monitoring does not have to be confined purely to server rooms and data centres. Critical aspects of the supply chains can also be monitored in addition to the IT facilities, using a RoomAlert.com account and multiple Room Alert environmental monitors.

Frozen produce, medicines and vaccines must be stored at the correct temperatures. Proactively monitoring power and temperatures within these facilities and the cold storage systems used i.e. fridges and freezers is another application for the Avtech digital active power and temperature sensor. If there is an electrical power failure to a fridge or freezer, then the stored produces and medical supplies may have to be moved within a short time frame or a temporary standby power source brought online.

Summary

Within a data centre or serve room environment, environmental factors including high temperatures and humidity levels account for more almost 30% of all downtime incidents. Proactively monitoring these factors, alongside power availability to loads including air conditioning systems can lower this potential risk factor dramatically. In addition, installation of a combination sensor like this with a Room Alert environment monitor can also prevent disruption to other parts of a building or supply chain and help to lower operating costs.

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