Data Centre Cabinets – White is Right?
Mon 30 Nov 2020 | Michael Akinla
Do the claims made about the ability of white cabinets and enclosures to save energy, reduce lighting requirements and improve visibility in data centres stack up? We ask Michael Akinla, Senior Manager North Europe at Panduit EMEA
This is an interesting topic. The more prosaic reason why more cabinets are dark colours is manufacturer’s choice, possibly fashion or influenced personal preference. For the past few years the leading colour choice for cars has been dark grey or black. In an increasingly safety conscious world, why do drivers choose a colour that is more difficult to see in the dark? Do rows of shiny black cabinets with flickering lights bring to mind the sleek efficiency of a Star Destroyer, against the rag bag white of the rebellion control facility?
It is time data centres and other technical spaces review the actual data available, which indicates that white cabinets and containment systems do have a positive effect on the efficiency of lighting in technology suites. In fact, any closed environment where cabinets are to be installed or old systems are being upgraded needs to be assessed for the most effective and efficient cabinet and lighting layout. White is right, is not a modern touch stone. For 10-years HPC has used white server cabinets at it data centres, claiming energy savings via the white reflective surfaces allowing less-intensive lights to be used.
Panduit extended its range of white infrastructure products after it investigated the topic and produced a white paper, ‘Impact of Cabinet Colour on Data Centre Lighting’. The paper reviewed not only basic cabinet configuration, but also variables using aisle containment systems and vertical exhaust ducts (VED) and the impact they had on the lighting design.
The results illustrated that using white cabinets instead of black cabinets increases illuminance, which means that a data centre can be lit with fewer light fixtures or reduce wattage systems and maintain the lux levels. The study indicates that the lighting electrical load, Energy Cost Reduction for the base line configuration could be as much as 25% and for VED configuration up to 35% saving. For a brighter, safer and energy saving technical space white cabinets must be a serious consideration.
Figure 1: Improvement in Illuminance with White Cabinets, Containment, and VEDs