Accredited to ISO/IEC
UKAS Accredited Company
Registered in England & Wales No. 527550
on Data Centers
Introduction to Infrared Thermography
on Data Centers
Important buildings such as Data centers and other mission
critical facilities with uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
systems can experience extremely high ROI (return on investment)
with a properly integrated infrared thermography program.
A successful infrared program includes all of the facility
equipment from construction and operation to server efficiency.
Commissioning of data center initial construction as well
as the addition of new equipment is accepted as standard operating
procedure for information technology (IT) facilities.
Downtime at Data Centers
Downtime in these facilities is not an option, and should
be avoided at all costs. Infrared thermography is being utilised
for regular electrical switchgear surveys, optimising of cooling
systems and servers, and commissioning of all electrical equipment,
including UPS modules , PDU (power distribution unit) equipment
and computer servers. Many construction project specifications
have infrared surveys as a requirement before the building
is turned over to the owner.
Data center infrared thermography must have total accountability
for all infrared data in the commissioning process, regardless
of whether or not there are problems. This accountability
can be achieved by documenting all equipment inspected with
time, date, location and equipment condition. The infrared
thermographer must create a data log and record the infrared
video onto a digital storage device of some type. New technologies
in data acquisition and report preparation will make historical
data (images previously taken) available for comparison. This
will enable the infrared thermographer to more closely compare
circuit boards and other UPS equipment with previously acquired
images. If something fails or causes downtime in the system,
an IR image of that component may be referenced to document
that the equipment was operational, at thermal steady-state
and in acceptable condition when the survey was made.
Infrared surveys and Commissioning of Data Center
The Thermography commissioning/surveying process should include
these types of equipment and considerations. The following
infrastructure support equipment should be tested:
• All distribution electrical panels.
• All associated switchgear.
• Emergency diesel generator systems.
• Battery banks, breakers and charging systems.
• Cooling systems, including chillers and all HVAC equipment.
• CRAC (computer room air conditioning) units.
• ATS (automatic transfer switch) equipment.
• UPS modules.
• Resistive load banks and associated cables/connectors.
• Static transfer switches.
• Rotary UPS system, if applicable.
• Transformers (utility and site).
• PDU (power distribution unit) equipment.
• All normal switchgear and electrical panels need to
be checked under load.
• Test generator leads and emergency source for the
automatic transfer switches under load.
• Resistive load banks must be attached to the PDUs
and tested with increasing load percentages.
• Each UPS module must be tested independently including
a full load battery test.
• UPS battery connections and individual battery cells
should be checked during and after the discharge.
• Rotary UPS systems must be checked during operation.
(Rotary systems utilize the same rectifier technology as static
topologies on the front end to create DC current from AC,
but use spanning motor-generators to re-create the sine wave
on the output.)
• Each PDU must be tested on both the preferred and
alternate sources as well as in each respective bypass.
• All normal transfers should be verified operable.
• PDU distribution breakers must be checked after they
are put into service on the panel boards.
Figure 1: Resistive load bank is shown with a bad cable
Causes for Electrical Failure and Downtime in Data
The critical power distribution system takes conditioned power
from the UPS and distributes it throughout the facility to
individual loads. Most site failures occur in areas where
hot electrical work is required and physical maintenance is
difficult to perform.
Typical causes for failures include:
• cover slipped while accessing load panel,
• overheated breakers tripped unexpectedly,
• wires were not physically secured under screws,
• screws were not torqued adequately
• wires or circuit breaker handles were dislodged while
adjacent work was being performed,
• screws were stripped,
• insulation was skinned causing faulted wires,
• rotations were reversed.
Infrared Thermography surveys for Servers and Server
Ten percent of all server racks currently in service are too
hot to meet industry standards for maximum IT reliability
“Institute research into computer room cooling indicates
1/3 all perforated tiles are incorrectly located and 60% of
all available cooling capacity is being wasted by bypass airflow.
Increasing under-floor static pressure to get air where it
needs to go requires permanently blocking all unnecessary
air escape routes. This includes sealing cable cutouts behind
and underneath products or racks (this unmanaged airflow is
what is really cooling most computer rooms) as well as the
penetrations in the floor or walls or ceiling and any other
openings in the raised floor. Perforated floor tiles with
25% openings can be replaced with 40% and 60% grates to permit
a much higher airflow. For sites with unused raised floor
space deliberately spreading equipment out to create white
space and reduce the averaged gross watts per square foot
power consumption will be a viable option.”
(4. Brill, Kenneth 2006)
Figure 2: Server cooling fans are shown. The
top fan is operating normally, while the bottom fan has failed.
Figure 3: High density server being tested at increasing CPU
Server infrared applications
• Thermally mapping complete data
center from sub-floor to ceiling.
• Verifying proper
hot aisle/cold aisle operation preventing short circuiting and
bypassing of air flow.
• Verifying high density server
farm cooling capabilities.
• Monitoring server rack
temperature distribution patterns.
• Finding internal
server fans which are inoperable or damaged.
Do the smaller companies have UPS and server systems? Absolutely!
In order to successfully complete the commissioning process
and maintain the systems, large and small companies must find
thermographers that are close-by and have experience in critical
facility activities. A thermographer interested in providing
these services must be commercially available to the UPS, electrical
and facilities maintenance contractors. Having a great professional
reputation with no accidents or system failures is essential
to being the preferred thermographer for data center infrared
work. What these infrared service clients want APT Thermography
provide professional, experienced and qualified thermographers
in the electrical infrared industry.
Why Infrared Thermal Imaging Surveys
In summary its main benefits are:
Results easily shown in pictures.
Shows location of air leakage.
Shows thermal insulation defects.
We use the latest detection equipment with fully trained personnel
to achieve reliable results in the most demanding building applications.
We carry out many surveys each year and guarantee to offer a
professional, reliable, and helpful and offer competitive pricing.
We offer a last minute service at no extra cost, and we also
undertake weekend Infrared thermography surveys on both on Saturday
and Sunday in order to meet your out of hour’s survey
requirements. We offer a nationwide service offering a single
supplier for all of your regional offices and projects.
Most of our clients, who use us for the first time, continue
to use our services because of our proactive approach, this
has led to nationwide agreements with many the top UK Companies,
which allows them to benefit from even more competitive rates
as well as unrivalled service.
We also offer
other specialist testing and reporting, such as:
• Air leakage Testing to Dwellings and Commercial Buildings
• Fire Enclosure Testing
• Sound Testing
• Energy Performance certificates, EPC, SAP & SBEM
APT Thermography - Further Information
If you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate
to contact us:
By Mobile - 07967 233836 (available 7am to
By E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org