APC Embraces InRow Overhead Cooling

Julius Neudorfer

APC has introduced a new OA series of overhead heat removal units using pumped refrigerant. While overhead cooling is not new, nor is pumped refrigerant, the APC OA system differs from other systems on the market in that it mounts over the hot aisle and extracts the heat and then returns the cooled air laterally back into the top of the room. In effect, it offers enhanced cooling with a zero floor space foot print, allowing for high density 'room neutral islands' in a lower density data center.

APC pioneered 'close coupled cooling' with the introduction of its original 'InRow' cooling unit, which initially used chilled water to remove heat. Some data center operators were resistant to the idea of having water near computer equipment, even though they may have already had chilled water in the room for their perimeter cooling system. As a result, while APC continued to offer chilled water, it added DX and Glycol Loop InRow Cooling systems to its product line to try to satisfy those customers.

While the chilled water-based systems offered the highest performance level of heat removal, some customers were slow to accept the new systems. Alternately, other cooling system vendors, such as Liebert, offered pumped refrigerant systems to capture customers that were uncomfortable with fluid-based systems. The OA system is APC's first offering of a pumped refrigerant system, presumably to satisfy those customers who prefer pumped refrigerant-based cooling.

Now for the PR version.

APC by Schneider Electric introduced the InRow OA and Refrigerant Distribution Unit (RDU) pumped refrigerant cooling system. The InRow OA is ideal for medium and high density applications, providing an overhead, energy efficient, refrigerant based cooling solution. This system has the ability to capture up to 27kW of hot IT exhaust air at the source, neutralize it and discharge cool, ambient air to the IT space. The overhead design requires zero whitespace, because it can be mounted on a rack or suspended from the ceiling above the hot aisle, improving flexibility and the ability to adapt to existing data center environments.

 'Data center densities continue to increase and efficiency concerns encourage customers to maximize all the available space for physical infrastructure,' said Dave Guidette, senior vice president, Enterprise Systems, Services & Software, APC.  'The new APC InRow OA and RDU provide data center managers with increased flexibility by eliminating the need to remove or break-up racks to implement a row-based cooling architecture to meet the needs of higher density loads.'

 Key benefits of new APC InRow OA include:

Ability to maximize available floor space for IT equipment
Address concerns of water in the data center
30-50% more efficient than traditional raised floor data center cooling
Elimination of hot spots caused by high density deployments
Flexibility to easily deploy and redeploy cooling
Simple to install minimizing initial investment

This refrigerant based system has been developed to eliminate the threat from water leaks in close proximity to IT equipment. The refrigerant used in this modular, pumped system is R134a, a non-toxic solution that poses no threat to IT equipment in the event of a leak, and has no Ozone depletion potential.
The RDU is a refrigerant distribution unit capable of providing 160kW of heat rejection to the APC InRow OA cooling units, and its modular construction, variable speed pumps, and active response controls are integrated into the highly efficient variable volume pumping system.  The RDU has the ability to modulate capacity from 0-100 percent with no minimum loading requirements and may be placed in the IT environment or in an adjacent location to further increase whitespace utilization for IT equipment.  

The Bottom Line

The newest APC offering highlights the need to meet localized high-density cooling challenges, while still allowing the continued use of standard raised floor cooling to support lower-density general heat loads.  The high-density issue is going to continue, so the various manufacturers will offer more options to meet the ongoing cooling problem in the data center.

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