The Ideal Intake Temperature for IT Equipment – And Why it Matters

It’s a common misconception that data centers need to be kept freezing cold. In fact, manufacturers recommend IT equipment intake air temperatures at, or slightly above, room temperature for maximum reliability, availability and performance – as high as 80.6º F (27º C). (You will find that temperature recommendations vary somewhat depending on the type of data center, equipment and cooling methods employed. Based on industry guidelines from ASHRAE, the recommendations listed in this document are appropriate for the majority of small to mid-size, mixed-use data centers we encounter.)

“Allowable” temperatures can drift as high as 90º F (32.2º C) for limited periods of time without affecting short-term operating reliability. Most IT equipment is even designed to survive temperatures above 90º F, though it may not run reliably. However, running at these elevated temperatures will shorten the equipment’s lifespan. (Long-term temperature increases are especially problematic for UPS batteries. For example, the estimated service life of a typical UPS battery decreases by 50% when the ambient temperature increases from 77° to 90° F.)

77º F (25º C) is the “sweet spot” for IT equipment:

  • Maintaining intake air temperatures below 77° F does not improve operating conditions or provide other benefits, so it’s simply an unnecessary and costly waste of energy. (If temperatures naturally fall below 77° F without any associated electricity cost or temperature swings, that isn’t a problem.)
  • Although IT equipment can run reliably with intake air temperatures above 77° F, the increased speed and power consumption of cooling fans inside the equipment tends to counteract (or even exceed) further energy and cost savings.
  • If you have an unusual situation where maintaining 77° F seems too costly, understanding the drawbacks of higher intake temperatures will help you balance budgetary considerations against equipment reliability and system availability.

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