RAISED ACCESS FLOOR FOR DATA CENTERS
What is a Raised Access Floor?
A raised access floor system is a construction system which has evolved significantly in the past 40 years, becoming an ideal element for commercial and technical construction, both for its functional and design features. This system is composed by modular panels (1), which are supported by a steel structure formed by height-adjustable pedestals (2) and stringers (3) for their bracing. All this elements work as a whole system, thus creating the inner space called plenum.
Why use a raised access floor system in a Data Center?
A raised floor system is the ideal pavement for an efficient construction of a Data Center since the technology of this system allows the elevation of the the floor from 70 mm up to 2000 mm, thus creating a space called plenum. to channel the refrigeration, electrical and mechanical services.
Is a raised access floor system important for temperature control of the Data Center?
Raised access floor systems in Data Centers are often used for temperature control through the implementation of cold corridors in the installation that introduce cold air into the room, thus reducing the amount of air needed to cool the equipment, saving energy and improving the temperature of the servers. It is estimated that the correct design of a Data Center using raised floor technology can reduce up to 45% of the energy consumption required for temperature control.
When the servers overheat, a common reaction is adding cooling units to the room, generating extra costs in terms of product and impact on energy consumption. In most cases the problem does not come from insufficient capacity, but from an incorrect design or poor management of air conduction.
What are the advantages of a raised floor system for wire organization?
Using a raised access floor system in Data Centers facilitate the organized distribution of electrical installations as well as telecommunications, allowing an easy access to them and allowing inmediate updates or installations, thus avoiding any building process. Electrical distribuition through the raised access floor plenum will help reduce costs compared to traditional ceiling distribution systems, which can also interfere with the luminaires and aesthetics of the Data Center.
A correct wiring conduction under the raised access floor will avoid falling risks, cable damage, as well as facilitating the cleaning and maintenance of the server room. The easy acces to underfloor as well as modularity provides versatility to the Data Center in future distributions and even change of location, as the system can be dissasembled completely and reused again in a new server complex.
What raised floor system is recommended for a Data Center?
The important value of the stored information as well as the high cost of the electronic components used within a Data Centers, such as servers, in addition of the security required by users and clients, demand a thoughtfull choice of a raised access floor system. It is essential to calculate the static and dynamic loads that will impact the raised floor system, for achieving this we follow two fundamental regulations that measure, among other things, the load resistance of a raised floor system for a Data Center. On one hand we have the UNE EN 12825: 2002 norm, which was created as a European standard used worldwide. On the other hand we have the ASTM-CISCA norm, updated in 2007 which regulates these characteristics in the American continent and Anglo-Saxon countries.
In addition to regulate the load resistance of an access floor system, the fire resistance classification of the system will be essential, where we recommend to avoid fast-casting products such as aluminum, and provide the system with steel components that improve this fire resistance classification. In order to maintain the safety of electronic components, safety standards encourage the application of dissipative and conductive antistatic access floor systemsas they will facilitate the transmission of electrostatic charges from the upper part of the access floor panel, up to a ground connection.
Linear Grids or Perforated Panels?
Aluminum grids are traditionally used for raised floors systems in cold aisles areas, although since the last decade, these types of raised floor grilles have been replaced by perforated panels as they provide greater stability during the installation of the Data Center equipment.
Linear grilles usually suffer damage in the slats when heavy rolling loads take place and subsequently cause annoying noises when the air supply is carried out. The perforated panels for raised access floor are manufactured in smooth steel, allowing heavy rolling and static loads without risks of damage or displacement during the air supply. Using perforated steel panels in the Data Center enhances the fire resistance characteristics compared to traditional aluminum grids, which reach a much lower melting point.
Several studies indicate that the managers and users of the Data Centers feel the need to replace the linear aluminum grids every 2 years with the consequent economic impact, therefore perforated steel panels have a huge acceptance as an alternative. In addition, perforated panels provide a useful expectancy life of more than 25 years without damage or discomfort in the air supply.