In many cooler geographical U.S. regions, data centers are looking at taking advantage of using the outside environment to cool their IT equipment.  Although this free cooling concept has been in existence for more than 30 years, it has becoming more widely adopted during the past 2 to 3 years as energy prices continue to rise.

With three Michigan data centers, Online Tech has been utilizing Michigan’s cool air temperatures to help lower their data centers costs.  “We naturally use less energy because it is cooler in Michigan,” says Yan Ness, Online Tech Co-CEO.

As Michigan – The Next Cool Thing for Data Centers mentions, Michigan’s year round cool climate is ideal for data centers.  As Ness points out that Michigan’s average heating day is 62 degrees and free cooling kicks in around 50 degrees.  So, air conditioning units can take advantage of the environment, even in the spring and fall, about 90% of the time in Michigan. “This is why Michigan is a great place to have data centers.  We should bring all servers all over the south up here and put them in our buildings,” says Ness.

Online Tech has been utilizing free cooling in their Michigan data centers for a few years.  In 2011, Online Tech invested over $1 million dollars into the Mid-Michigan data center incorporating higher energy efficiencies.  Old air conditioning units were upgraded to new units that were suitable for free cooling and more energy efficient.  “The savings has almost paid for the equipment,” says Ness.

Online Tech’s Michigan data centers not only incorporate free cooling to lower cooling costs.  All of our Michigan data centers are designed using hot/cold aisle containment and hot/cold configuration.  At the end of each row cabinets, a hidden plastic container directs all of the cold air into the center of the servers.  This maximizes the use of the cold air to cool the equipment and lessen the amount of cold air escaping.

Also, servers are organized in a hot/cold aisle configuration.  This hot/cold aisle layout lines up servers racks in alternating rows with server hot air exhausts pointing in the same direction and improves airflow management.

If you are interested in learning other ways to make your data center more efficient read Investing in Data Center Efficiencies – Part One and Investing in Data Center Efficiencies – Part Two.