What Does Ambient Temperature Mean?
Ambient temperature is a measure of the temperature around a given asset or piece of equipment or other object. In IT, ambient temperature refers controls on cooling required to keep an optimal temperature around high-performance equipment, such as servers or data centers.
For a basic understanding of what this term means, it's helpful to think of ambient temperature as the "temperature of surroundings." For IT purposes, ambient temperature control often strives for a temperature between 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 24 degree Celsius) in the server and data rooms. Ambient temperature is important because if it rises too high, the equipment in a data center could overheat causing damage to the servers and data as well.
However, a balance must be struck between cost and efficiency. The cooling systems of data rooms require the consumption of a significant amount of energy, usually accounting for 30 to 50% of the total energy expenditure of a data center.
In an effort to reduce cooling costs, some companies prefer to increase their temperature to up to 80°F to save the money that should be spent to cool temperature to a lower degree. In fact, increasing the temperature setpoint by just one degree leads to a reduction of the energy consumption between 2 to 5%.
This new limit is supported by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which set a new standard of 64° to 81°F (18° to 27°C) as the newer computer equipment available for server rooms has improved tolerances for higher temperature ranges.
Techopedia Explains Ambient Temperature
In a data center, ambient temperature is often maintained by large-scale cooling systems that cool the entire data center facility, where the centralized server racks often work 24/7 providing computing capacity to customers over the global Internet.
Assessing large-scale power requirements is one part of setting up the systems that will maintain ambient temperature: for instance, some experts estimate 10 to 20 kw/h per cabinet. One challenge is how to do maintenance when the system requires 100% uptime.
Ambient temperature systems for server rooms and data centers work on the principle of forced air. Hence, there are also efficiencies to be promoted: best practices recommended for data center administrators by trade groups include setting up floor tiles correctly, using in-rack cooling and monitoring systems for various kinds of air leaks. Air flow is, in fact, central for optimal control of ambient temperature.
Rather than the air temperature in the room, for example, it is much more important to check the rack level intake temperature or the air return temperature at the air conditioning units. A mismanaged flow of hot air generated by heating equipment that is not channeled away from the servers can cause the entire room to suffer from “thermal pollution.” Air circulation must be managed with great precision to efficiently cool it, and appropriate measures must be taken such as using cable grommets to limit air flow around cables, or covering unused spaces with panels.
It is also very important to keep humidity in a certain range, normally between 20 to 80% (with an optimal humidity of 50% to ensure flawless performance of the computer systems). If humidity is too high, condensation might damage the server components due to corrosion. If humidity is not high, electrostatic discharges (ESDs) might occur across the dry air, causing serious damage to the equipment.
Cooling Pads to Maintain Ambient Temperature
Other types of ambient temperature controls can use radiant cooling to support devices. One of the prime examples is a laptop cooling pad. Many of these items can be bought at any electronics store. They typically involve a small, portable frame with some type of cooling component inside.
These may use radiant cooling or forced air cooling in the form of fans to cool down a laptop or device that is running hot. The smaller laptop cooling pads are valuable in maintaining ambient temperature for portable devices that use high-powered CPUs and GPUs.