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Kell Systems cabinet cooling technology

By moving servers out of the computer room and into cabinets Kell Systems has improved energy efficiency and space utilisation

According to management consultancy Accenture, the energy expenditure required to cool servers is as much as the energy required to power the servers themselves, pushing up company cooling budgets, and in turn carbon emissions.

One solution to this problem is to ditch the traditional computer room, and to house servers, and other network infrastructure, in cabinets. Server cabinets developed by Kell Systems use forced-air cooling to keep temperatures under control, and to ensure that noise levels are low enough for the cabinets to be usable in the open office, thus removing the need for dedicated air-conditioned server room facilities

In a typical usage case, Kell’s cabinets reduce perceived server noise by up to 90 per cent, CO2 emissions by 96.5 per cent, floor space by 90 per cent, operating costs by 98 per cent, and capital costs by 65-80 per cent, when compared to a conventional server room (based on typical office with servers, switches, patching, UPS, KVM and tape backup).

If a typical 3.6 kW server room installation were replaced with an equivalent Kell ComputerVault Pro cabinet deployed in the open office, hardware cooling costs can be reduced by £1,300 per annum (calculation based on a conservative price of 10p per kW/hour).

Whilst server manufacturers are bringing out new energy efficient models, unless introduced alongside a strategy that can reduce the cost of cooling them, only a fraction of the potential energy cost savings can be achieved. Server cabinets enable companies to meet this demand for cost-effective cooling.

How it works

Kell server cabinets operate on a principle of fresh-air cooling, where ambient air is drawn in at floor level of the enclosure, channelled over the front of the equipment, and then extracted out of the enclosure at the rear. Located out in the open office they do not need the dedicated air-conditioning of equivalent server rooms, as any heat generated is dispersed indiscernibly into the large body of air of the office.

An analogy to explain the energy dispersal might be that if you drop some ice cubes into a large bath of water, the temperature change to the bath water is negligible, but if you drop the same ice cubes into a your drink, the temperature drop is substantial. In a similar way, small computer rooms require dedicated air conditioning because warm air from the equipment is pumped into a small, confined space, so heat builds up very quickly. While conceptually simple, this approach requires high standards of manufacturing and assembly to ensure successful results.

An interactive calculator is provided at http://www.kellsystems.co.uk/power_calc.asp to enable customers to evaluate how a server cabinet could help them meet their own energy saving targets and provide floor space economies.


While the concept of server cabinets is still growing in popularity, Kell already has a lengthy customer list that includes blue-chip multinationals, government organisations, green companies such as Innocent Drinks, and IT bellwethers including Microsoft and Google.

One customer, Towergate Partnership, specified Kell server cabinets in preference to building new comms room facilities. Peter Morris, Head of Towergate’s property management unit, didn’t want the capital expenditure of building new comms rooms with costly, dedicated air conditioning.

“We wanted a cabinet solution that offered the technical functionality of an air-conditioned comms room but without the expense. It needed to be capable of cooling itself, even with high thermal loads, to run silently in the open office even with noisy servers and switches inside, and blend discretely with the general office furniture,” said Morris.

Towergate now uses Kell server cabinets to house the entire communications infrastructure at all new branch offices without existing comms room facilities.

“Taking into account the costs of demountable partitioning, dedicated air conditioning, and basic data racks, we estimate that Kell’s enclosures save approximately 59 per cent, per site, without taking into account the reduced floor space costs,” said Morris. “Kell cabinets are a far better use of floor space, and in the event of an office move or lease expiring they are easily redeployed and aren’t the sunk cost of a permanent comms room. We have deployed several of these already and we’re exceptionally impressed with the cooling system and the noise reduction. We haven’t looked back on the decision.”

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