hot aisle containmentDid you know that 80% of all data centers have implemented or are looking to install cold or hot aisle containment options? With so many facilities adopting some form of containment, many people are wondering if it’s better to contain the hot aisle or the cold aisle. The answer? Either.

Ultimately, the goal of hot and cold aisle containment is the same – to improve the data center environment in ways that reduce operating costs and increase cooling capacity. Every computer room is unique, so there’s no definitive answer in regards to which type of system data centers should use. For that reason, it is essential that you understand the differences between the two containment systems.

What is cold aisle containment?
A cold aisle containment system (CAC) in a data center has doors at the end of the aisles and partitions on the ceiling that act as a physical barrier to contain the supply airflow. The doors are necessary to prevent the air from leaking out of the aisle ends.

This creates a uniform flow of air and controlled temperature at the IT intake. Hot spots impact the ability of data centers to achieve the most efficient operating conditions. CAC systems are designed to eliminate these hot spots.

What is hot aisle containment?
A hot aisle containment system (HAC) uses a physical barrier to guide hot exhaust towards the AC return. This system has the advantage of the natural properties that cause warm air to rise. The hot air is directed upward into an AC return like a drop-ceiling void.

The benefits of hot aisle containment are twofold – it increases cooling capacity and saves energy. HAC is known to double a computer room air conditioning (CRAC) system’s cooling capacity because it isolates the hot exhaust air that is emitted from the server racks. This ensures that it returns to the AC coil without mixing with the cold air.

While cold aisle containment is easier to implement and is typically less expensive, hot aisle containment is usually more effective. Unfortunately, the higher temperatures present in the hot aisle system can create uncomfortable working conditions for technicians.

Ultimately, before deciding which system to go with, you will need to evaluate your computer room and determine which containment system is more conducive to your environment.