Design considerations for achieving an efficient data centre lighting solution

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Lighting may only consume a fraction of the total energy used within a data centre but its impact and cost savings go far beyond the cost of lighting. In addition to saving energy, money and maintenance efforts, a highly efficient LED lighting system can offer data centre operators a simple solution to maximise both safety and the productivity of their staff. Extremely long life, low carbon emissions and excellent task lighting are just some of the benefits of highly efficient LED lighting. Spending a little extra time during project design stage and partnering with lighting experts will lead to fewer issues in the long-term. Zumtobel lighting are experts in this sector and have looked at addressing key lighting specification considerations for Data Centre applications:

Ambient air temperature
The ambient air temperature of a facility is often considered one of the most important aspects of data centre design. Hot and cold aisles typically result in fluctuating temperatures and increasing pressure on any hardware found within a data hall. The first step is to determine if the luminaires being considered have been fully tested and have an appropriate ambient temperature rating for the environment.

Task lighting
Although data centres do not have the same occupation rate as traditional commercial businesses, technical engineers need to monitor and work in close proximity to the servers. A well-lit working plane is crucial, engineers can accurately record information and clearly see the task at hand. It is vital that the lighting system is designed to light the face of the servers, similar to a library where you are illuminating the spines of books to 500lux for ease of identification. The introduction of innovative lighting control can also prove beneficial, additional energy savings of at least a further 10 per cent can be experienced when LED luminaires are integrated with sensors to manage when and where light is used, reducing running time and unwanted heat gain. Lighting control should be the rule rather than the exception as the right choice of highly efficient lighting coupled with an intelligent lighting control system will enable consistent monitoring of a lighting installation whilst enabling remote reporting of potential faults within the system.

Emergency lighting
Every data centre is laid out differently so there is no one size fits all solution. Emergency lighting systems are a critical part of any commercial building, data centres are not an exception they must have a proven emergency lighting scheme, this is a legal requirement forming part of the wider life safety system. Along with a consistent and reliable power stream, your emergency lighting back-up system needs to provide power to the emergency luminaires for between 1 and 3 hours depending on the geographical location. High ambient air temperatures can lead to a design preference for central battery systems (which can be located remotely) as over self-contained emergency luminaires, due to heat exposure, can result in reduced battery life expectancy and increased susceptibility to overheating and failure.

External lighting
Data and premises security are at the forefront of a Critical Facility operator’s priorities, whilst IT security measures are paramount, unfortunately external lighting is all too often a neglected design focus when fortifying a facilities perimeter defences. External lighting can help support and define the building’s entrance, perimeter and produce better visibility for CCTV identification. In addition to security lighting, the use of architectural lighting within client-facing zones such as a reception area, can support brand identity. The correct choice of products used across external areas will give the facility an identity whilst improving security for the building and its employees surroundings.

Modularity
The Data Centre Industry is growing fast, one of the key challenges facing Developers and Operators is how to build and scale to meet client demand. Products which offer modular construction allow for greater design flexibility and enable the build to progress piece by piece, increasing MW capacity without compromising on time or value. Prefabricated sections constructed within off-site controlled manufacturing facilities, improve build consistency, decrease on-site install time, and reduce the quantity of large multi-skilled site based install teams when compared to traditional methods of construction, and are also kinder to the environment.
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