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Data centers are fairly new commodities in the world of facilities management. Over the past decade, they’ve become more of an industry in their own right – but there’re still many manufacturers that don’t develop specific products for data center use.
That’s the challenge that H5 Data Centers, privately owned data center operator, was faced with when it prepared to upgrade the existing fluorescent lighting products in a newly purchased Cleveland facility. (Photo: This is the facility before it was upgraded. Credit: H5.)
The company was looking to reconfigure a 3,500-square-feet data hall with an energy-saving system that improved light quality and was reliable, easy to install and aesthetically pleasing.
“We work in critical systems that can’t ever go down,” says Bill Johnson, vice president of colocation and data center operations at H5. “So it becomes very critical that these areas utilize highly reliable [lighting] systems. And systems that either generate very minimal heat or reject the heat that the servers are generating in the data halls.”
The New Lighting System
When looking at what was available in the market, Johnsons says no product quite matched all their criteria. He explains that power management company Eaton was the only provider that agreed to create a customized product specifically for use in their data centers.
H5 worked with Eaton and ultimately came up with a series of very thin, 8-foot linear LED fixtures with a distributed low-voltage power (DLVP) system, a wiring system that provides low-voltage power and control in the same cable.
The 27 suspended fixtures were installed in one day, and Eaton even provided training to H5 employees on how the fixtures would be installed and how to service them beyond installation – meaning they don’t have to contract out the expensive use of an electrician.
(Photo: This is the facility after it was upgraded. Credit: H5)
“[H5] specifically, they were interested in being able to use their own labor and work on their own timelines,” says Chris Andrews, a product manager at Eaton.
The low-voltage wiring gives H5 the option to move the fixtures when needed. “That’s important to us not only from a cost standpoint, but more from a standpoint of flexibility and timing,” Johnson says. “We might have a customer that wants to move a row of their equipment racks. And they’d expect that to happen quickly, so we like the support for that.”
Low energy usage and low heat
Not only are the lights LED, they are also motion activated. So when an H5 employee enters the room, the lights turn on and turn off when they leave. That results in low energy usage, since they’re off until they’re needed. That also results in low heat emission, a crucial benefit for data centers.
H5 is able to be more aesthetically creative and softer with their new fixtures, especially with the LED light and a built-in dimming option. “Overall, the light has a visually pleasing finish, unlike most data center lighting,” Johnson explains. “The addition of the dimming feature, on the aesthetic side, was a great improvement.”
The new fixtures also take up less space in the data center. “Our ceiling has a tendency to get congested with cable racks and cable trays,” Johnson says. “These lights use a very small ceiling footprint, so that was a big plus for us, too.”
Following the success of its Cleveland facility, H5 has made multiple orders for more Eaton DLVP fixtures, including for a recently acquired space in Quincy, Washington.
“DLVP gave H5 the best opportunity for good lighting, the aesthetics they wanted, along with a faster and simpler installation,” Andrews says, adding: “This system was the answer as energy codes become more and more stringent and [lighting] becomes more granular in control. For example, rather than the Empire State Building flipping one switch on the main floor to turn on the whole building, we’re trying to become smarter as a society and start controlling smaller, more granular spaces.”
Johnson summarizes, “We know we’ve made the right choice when customers visit the Cleveland space and go, ‘Wow.’”
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