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Differential Pressure Sensors for Data Center Applications

Data centers that house servers and other computer equipment that are crucial to the success of many companies require a specialized controlled environment to function properly. These areas must be maintained at a consistent temperature to keep the equipment running at peak efficiency to help reduce energy costs, and in an environment that keeps out dust and contaminants to prevent premature equipment failure.

The wrong pressure instruments used in critical environments, such as data centers, can result in inaccurate measurements, damage to equipment and downtime for your application.

Differential pressure sensors are used in several different applications in data centers. This article will discuss what product features make for the best differential sensors for these applications to ensure your application runs accurately and efficiently.

Proper Temperature for Peak Performance

Maintaining the proper temperature in a data center is critical to its overall efficiency. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends that the temperature in a server room or hallway should be maintained between 60° to 80° F for maximum efficiency. If the temperature is too high, you run the risk of hardware or system failure. If the temperature is too low, you increase the energy cost of the data center.

In an open-air data center, where rooms or hallways are broken into zones, a differential pressure sensor can be used to monitor the pressure change in a particular zone to increase or decrease the fan speed to help maintain the proper temperature in that zone.

In a cold in/hot out data center, where servers with internal fans are mounted into a wall, a differential pressure transducer is used to monitor the differential pressure change on either side of the wall to increase or decrease the speed of the internal server fan to maintain the proper temperature of the server.

Energy Cost

In addition to helping run servers at maximum efficiency, another benefit of tightly controlling the temperature in the server room is that it provides a cost reduction in the energy use of the data center. The closer the room can be maintained to the high end of the recommended temperature range, the less energy will be required to heat or cool the room. Ultimately this leads to a reduction in energy costs.

Air Flow

To prevent dust and other contaminants from entering the room where servers are stored, many data centers use HVAC systems designed to create a positive air flow in the room so that when the door to the room is open, the air flows from the room out into the hallway. This prevents any dust or stray contaminants from entering the room, keeping the servers in pristine condition.

This type of positive room pressure is often found in cleanroom applications and uses a differential pressure sensor to monitor the pressure differential between the room and the hallway to make sure the air is flowing in the right direction.

Pressure Sensor Reliability and Repeatability

All of the applications listed above require a differential pressure sensor that is accurate, repeatable, reliable and stable enough to help control the HVAC systems. Since the goal is always to keep the system operating at peak efficiency with limited downtime, your pressure measurement instruments must be designed with a reliable sensor technology that can measure the slightest difference in pressure while continuing to operate accurately, reliably and efficiently over time.

The energy savings you may think you are gaining by tightly controlling the temperature can be affected by the accuracy of your differential sensor. If at any point the accuracy of your sensor shifts from +/- 0.25% to +/- 1.0% or more, you lose the tight control of the process and start to escalate your energy costs.

Having a repeatable pressure sensor with minimal long-term drift will also help to reduce the downtime needed for periodic calibration and verification, allowing your systems to run longer with greater efficiency. This is where the technology and performance of a product can offer a customer long-term savings.

Ashcroft Recommendations

Ashcroft offers some of the best sensing technology for low-pressure applications. Our Si-GlasTM sensor provides very little offset and is ready to go right out of the box without requiring calibration.

Ashcroft’s CXL, DXL, GXL and XL differential pressure transducers can adequately measure pressure in data center applications.

And in applications where computers use liquid to lower their temperatures, Ashcroft’s E2 and A2 transducers can monitor the pressure of this fluid flow through computers.

We don’t like to pressure you, but we have more information.

Now that you better understand the pressure instrumentation requirements for HVAC systems in data centers, you can research the best solution for your airflow measurements. Keeping these factors in mind can help ensure that you avoid problems and keep your application running with reliable and accurate pressure measurements.

If you want to learn more about pressure sensors, you can read some of our other blogs:

Feel free to contact us today to talk to one of our industry experts and get your questions answered.

And if you’d like to learn more about pressure instruments for critical environment applications, download our eBook:

Critical Environment Instrumentation Guide

About Steve St. Hilaire, Product Marketing Leader

Steve is the Product Marketing Leader for both pressure transducers and pressure switches at Ashcroft. He has over 30 years of experience in sales and marketing in the sensor industry.