Demonstration of Intelligent Control and Fan Improvements in Computer Room Air Handlers
This report documents a demonstration of the energy-efficiency improvement provided by a new control system for computer room air handling devices. It also analyzes measured and reported air handling device fan power associated with changing the fan type. A 135,000 square foot commercial data center was used for the demonstration. All air handling units were upgraded with improved efficiency fans, and a control system that automatically adjusts the fan speed for the air handling units was added. Power measurements were collected for a baseline and for a period with the fan speed control system active. Changing the fan type resulted in a savings of 47 percent of energy used by the air handling equipment and associated chiller plant energy needed to cool the air handlers themselves. The addition of the fan speed control resulted in an additional 37 percent savings in the same two categories. The combined savings for the two improvements for the same categories was 66 percent compared to the data center fitted with the original fans without a control system. The energy use reduction provided by the complete air handling device improvement program for the whole data center site is estimated to be 2.9 million kilowatt hours per year—an overall data center site savings of 8.0 percent. The reduced electrical energy use at the site provides a 1.9 million pound yearly reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. This demonstration showed that fan upgrades and a control system addition provide cost-effective improvements for data centers, with a payback reported to be under two years without utility incentives. In addition to the control system providing energy savings, the data collection and visual analysis capabilities provided immediate and long-term benefits. It is recommended that data center operators consider investing in fan upgrades and/or adding fan speed control for computer room air handlers.