Data center ceilings come with what is known as a Drop-Away Ceiling. This type of ceiling is designed to drop the moment a data center room gets extremely hot. The ceiling panel is thermostatic. Therefore, it contracts at higher temperatures by approximately 135° and falls out of its frame and onto the floor.
Drop-away ceilings are not just there to look pretty for commercial settings. They have functional purposes too.
Why are data center ceilings needed?
These ceilings are usually placed on the top of the data center aisles. They will fall to the floor upon temperature increase beyond the protocol threshold. This process allows for fire suppression methods like installed nozzles to extinguish fires through water or any media channel.
Benefits of a data center ceiling
There are many benefits to the ceiling that drops!
Firstly, it’s cost-effective because these ceilings require fewer nozzles. Also, they can be self-assembled by the buyer. If needed, the manufacturer can help with installation.
Secondly, these ceilings restrict air mixing that helps with managing the overall air temperature in the data center. This further helps in reducing the short cycling of cooling systems.
They help in accessing important wiring systems that can be easily reached in case of repairs or troubleshooting.
White drop-down ceilings can create a brighter space within the room as it reduces the need for more lighting. This helps reduce high usage of electricity.
Also, as these ceilings are great heat insulators that allow for a cool room, it helps lower the heating and cooling bills.
Bacteria and mold accumulate over time on ceilings. This does not happen with drop-down ceilings. There is no sagging during high humid weather.
They are not vulnerable to fires and, therefore, score a favorable flame-spread rating.
Considerations to make before installing a data center ceiling
Installing a ceiling panel or a drop-down ceiling is easy and faster. Most of these ceilings offer a non-gasket design. They are designed to snap easily together with without bolting. The first consideration to make is the height of the room. The data center room’s height should be at least 10 ½ feet with a plenum area of at least 2 feet. The floor to drop ceiling height should be a minimum of 8 ½ feet.
Drop ceilings usually can’t bear much height as they are sometimes installed with thin wires. However, more rigid support can be used for additional weight-bearing capacity.
Return extensions can be installed on cooling units that penetrate the drop-ceiling grid to prevent air mixing. In this process, the warm exhaust air that results will be fed by the servers directly to the return of the cooling infrastructure. This helps increase the cooling capacity of the entire build-up.
The fire suppression system can be extended down to the drop ceiling space. The fire suppression system can include smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, or nozzles. These can be installed in both hot and cold isles.
How to install a data center ceiling?
The steps for installation can differ from installer to installer and from a layman to a professional. However, here are a few steps that can help you with installing a drop-away ceiling.
Step 1. Draw the exact dimensions of the room on a graph paper. The pattern of the room and its size will determine the material you require along with the number of drop-down panels.
Step 2. In case lighting needs to be installed then mark its location on the graph.
Step 3. Determine the exact height from the old ceiling to the drop-away ceiling. There should be a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of clearance between the two ceilings.
Step 4. Once the markings have been properly identified on the graph, begin drawing these markings around the room. This will help you identify where the wall angle should be placed.
Step 5. Place wiring of recessed lights before placing any suspension wires. For recessed lighting, use drop-in light fixtures of either 2x2 or 2x4 inches.
Step 6. Cut the suspension wires of about 12 inches longer than the distance between the original ceiling and the new guideline string markings. Ensure that the suspension wires are securely fastened.
Step 7. Splice the main tees. Then install them and the cross tees by properly aligning and slotting them. Once this is done, place the ceiling panels into position by slightly tilting them above the framework before letting them fall into place.