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Free cooling: Energy-saving upgrades on existing electronics sites

7 min read
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Keeping technical shelters and critical infrastructure cool year-round can be costly without modern, efficient cooling technology. In this article, we will discover how free cooling can help bring energy-saving upgrades to new and existing sites.

In order to keep telecom infrastructure operational year-round, an effective cooling solution is critical. If temperatures are allowed to build in these shelters, equipment can quickly overheat and become damaged, causing unwanted downtime for customers.

As well as the substantial costs associated with replacing this technology, this disruption can hurt the relationship between shelter operators and their customers.

To keep internal environments at a designated temperature and maximise site uptime, millions of shelters depend on cooling solutions such as conventional ventilation and split-type air-conditioning units to keep air flowing.

However, as time passes and technology evolves, air cooling solutions that were once effective can become outdated and inefficient, draining resources, requiring frequent maintenance and using more energy during operation.

In this article, we will discuss why electronics free cooling units are the ideal solution for companies looking to upgrade their existing shelters and reduce cooling costs.

What is free cooling?

Free cooling is a process that uses ambient outdoor air to keep technical shelters and other indoor infrastructure at the optimal temperature year-round.

By utilising this principle to constantly exhaust hot air, free cooling units are high efficient alternatives to traditional solutions, like air-conditioning or ventilation.

Instead of relying on power-consuming compressors and fans to lower the temperature indoors, this technology uses the existing conditions outdoors to keep electronics cool. As a result, this simple process uses significantly less energy than other solutions.

Infographic diagram showing how free cooling works to cool electronic equipment

How efficient is free cooling compared to other cooling systems?

Because free coolers use outdoor temperatures to regulate the internal climate of data centres and telecom shelters, the efficiency of these units can vary in different climates and countries.

Despite this, free cooling can be up to 95% more energy efficient than traditional A/C. Even in challenging climates, like the Middle East, a free cooling unit still uses up to 60% less energy than an air-conditioning unit would in the same environment.

Statistics showing 54% annual energy saving from flexibox free cooling compared to air conditioning - Infographic

Beyond conventional A/C, free cooling technology is a viable alternative to conventional ventilation, providing owners and operators of electronic sites with energy savings of up to 30%.

With enterprises all around the world facing greater uncertainty from the energy market, and the expense associated with the global rollout of 5G, finding savings by reducing energy costs is more crucial now than ever before.

Why is free cooling ideal for telecom infrastructure and data centres?

Free cooling is not just an ideal choice for telecoms climate control because of its outstanding energy efficiency. This technology also delivers several other benefits, such as:

Enhanced control

Aside from the very real savings to be had, free coolers also offer a greater degree of precision and control when it comes to temperature, especially in comparison with other cooling solutions.

This allows the optimal climate to be reached and regulated in these shelters. Components can operate as efficiently as possible, while their lifespan is also prolonged.

Easy to install

Free cooling units are comparatively fast and easy to fit. Due to their use of compressors and refrigerant gases, a traditional AC system will need to be installed by a specially qualified technician. Naturally, this comes with a greater expense.

With fewer moving parts than other cooling solutions, free cooling units can be installed faster and more cost-effectively, allowing for a more streamlined rollout of new equipment across hundreds and thousands of sites at a time.

Reduced reliance on maintenance

This simple construction and robustness also mean that the resources devoted to maintaining free cooling units are kept to a minimum. This reduces their lifetime running costs, and means operators do not have to spend on regular maintenance check-ups.

With technology that requires less monitoring and less servicing, teams can oversee a greater number of sites at once, with complete reassurance that they are running as they should. Simultaneously, thanks to these units’ lack of complexity, site uptime can also be increased.

Hybrid flexibility

Free coolers’ minimal installation, maintenance and servicing costs make them the ideal solution to be used in a dual cooling strategy. This is an approach that utilises multiple coolers in separate areas to keep different components at specific individual temperatures.

Creating different temperature zones in a single shelter reduces the dependency on any one unit, adding an additional layer of redundancy. Furthermore, by using each cooler less, a hybrid site can also work to reduce overall energy consumption.

Read another free cooling related article about dual cooling zones and efficiencies

How do you know when your cooling systems need upgrading?

To understand whether your existing cooling technology needs to be upgraded and replaced, you should first look to see whether the units you currently have in place are working as intended.

As time passes, older cooling solutions can become less reliable and less effective at regulating temperatures. If your target climate is not being maintained, your equipment should be updated and replaced.

Consider also looking at the energy consumption data for your sites. Not only are older units less energy efficient than modern solutions from the outset, but the added wear and tear can also further hamper the efficiency of your existing technology.

If you notice that more electricity is being drawn from power sources despite no change in outdoor conditions, this may be a sign your coolers have reached the end of their operational life, and an upgrade is in order.

What are the dangers of not upgrading low-efficiency systems?

Aside from greater energy consumption and costlier overheads, failing to identify and upgrade inefficient cooling systems can cause a number of issues for your sites.

Reasons to upgrade low efficiency and ineffective cooling systems on electronics sites

Why businesses trust Dantherm for commercial free cooling solutions

The latest generation of capacity controlled free coolers are highly energy-efficient devices capable of regulating the temperature inside core infrastructure, including 4G masts and data centres.

With energy markets facing a wave of uncertainty, this technology can be integrated into thousands of existing electronic sites to limit their power draw, and keep overheads to a minimum.

As leaders in climate control solutions, Dantherm has supported companies worldwide with energy-efficient, reliable and cost-effective free cooling technology. Our up-to-date EC fans offer significant energy-saving potential, massively reducing their overheads.

Recently, we have been working with a large European-wide company to upgrade their previous solutions in 2,700 of their sites in Sweden. Together we have developed a scheduled rollout of this new technology, focusing on the areas most in need of an upgrade first.

Furthermore, we have a long history of assisting fibre network operators upgrade beyond their older, less efficient solutions, and introduce technology that is more effective, more controllable, and will help them save money in the long term.

As well as greater energy savings, Dantherm free coolers enable teams to remotely monitor and control conditions across hundreds of sites simultaneously. This remote connectivity does not just allow people to keep an eye on more infrastructure at once – it also reduces their reliance on in-person maintenance, helping cut costs further.

To provide organisations with the flexibility and capability needed to effectively cool electronics and other important systems, we ensure that efficiency, reliability, sustainability and usability are at the core of all our commercial free coolers:

Product showcase comparing features of Dantherm free cooling units including high capacity and displacement free coolers

The extensiveness of our range of free cooling solutions, supported by a wide range of accessories, ensures that we offer unmatched flexibility to help meet the precise needs of every customer.

In addition to this breadth of market-leading technology, we also:

  • Recognise that each site is unique, so we always take a bespoke approach to every project, working closely with our customers to understand their requirements

  • Utilise our own calculating formulas to determine the most appropriate size and type of free cooling solution, offering maximum effectiveness and energy efficiency

  • Have the decades of experience and expertise to assist installers on the most beneficial way to set up and program this technology

  • Help customers better plan for when their units require maintenance and in sourcing spare parts when needed

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about the full spectrum of advantages Dantherm telecoms cooling can bring.

Related products

Dantherm Flexibox 900 – free cooling unit
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Free cooling

Free cooling is cost-effective controlled ventilation – the telecom shelter or enclosure is cooled by means of ambient air without a compressor.

Dantherm DFC 350-450 – displacement free cooling unit
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Displacement free cooling

The Dantherm DFC 350 and 450 are slim passive cooling units utilising the displacement free air cooling technology.

Dantherm TKS 60 – high capacity free cooling unit
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High-capacity free cooling

TKS 60 is high-capacity free air cooling designed to control the internal environment of communication shelters using a minimum of energy.

Dantherm AirMaze II – air vent weather protection
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Air vent weather protection

AirMaze is a compact air path protection capable of removing wind-driven water and sand particles from even high air speed applications.

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