Guest author: Bob Mobach, Practice Director, Data Center

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently raised its recommended temperature for its data centers from 72 degrees to as high as 80 degrees, in an effort to save energy. The GSA says it can save 4-5% in energy costs for every one degree it raises its server inlet temperatures, resulting in dramatic energy reductions in hot months.

Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

With this in mind, should you consider following the GSA’s lead and raising the thermostat in your data center? It depends. The maximum temperature currently recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is 80.6 degrees, but not many data centers have the staff or equipment to safely maintain operations at that temperature.

According to data from the 2013 Uptime Institute survey, almost 50% of all data centers internationally operate at between 71-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The next largest segment was 65-70 degrees (37%). However, the percentage of data centers operating at over 75 degrees increased more than twofold since 2012, from 3% to 7%. The share of centers running at under 65 degrees has also decreased significantly over the past two years.

As data center equipment continues to evolve, it is growing increasingly tolerant of higher temperatures, which is most likely why the Uptime survey is noticing a gradual trend toward warmer centers. These advances also led the ASHRAE to increase its suggested temperature for data centers to 80.6 degrees in 2008, up from the previous recommendation of 77 degrees.

Do you think this trend is ripe, and we will continue to see warmer data centers? Or is this just hype, and data center temperatures will start to level off?

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