While many facilities are rethinking the use of raised floor systems, turning instead to suspended ceilings and other alternatives, access floors still remain the best choice for a computer room in virtually all cases. That's because raised floors offer advantages currently unavailable through other means, including grounding, safe management of computer equipment and cables, the ability to distribute a heavy load and, of course, flexibility. After all, access floors were designed specifically for computer rooms, so it comes as no surprise that alternative methods are still unable to match them. Here are several reasons why raised floor systems are still the most common choice in data centers and computer rooms across the United States.
1. Even Distribution of Weight
Raised floor systems are designed to distribute a heavy weight load equally over the whole floor, which is more important than ever as equipment has become more dense and server cabinets heavier. For very heavy loads, an all steel floor filled with concrete should be considered, as these raised floor tiles offer great rolling load protection and stationary equipment protection. It's also important to have the grid under the raised floor bolted for very heavy loads. Bolting the stringers, or cross-pieces, to the pedestal, or floor jacks, creates a very rigid grid even when individual raised floor tiles are removed.
2. Easy Management of Cables
The extensive network of cables to computer equipment may be safely and easily concealed under the raised floor tiles, which means a safe environment for personnel with no trip hazards. This also means cabling is not subjected to long-term exposure to heat in a hot aisle, which can deteriorate insulation. Raised floors provide a clean, neat-looking installation by keeping cabling out of sight yet easily accessible.
3. Effective Airflow Management
While there are many ways to manage airflow to sensitive equipment in today's computer rooms, no option offers the versatility of the access floor. Raised floors make hot- and cold-aisle containment easier, as all of the cabling is under the floor so partitions may be installed quickly and painlessly. Raised floors can also be updated and modified to improve airflow to equipment with the use of grates and perforated raised floor tiles. This will allow for the efficient cooling of high-density loads and insure cold air is strategically routed to equipment.
This advantage is even more clear when compared to overhead air distribution, which usually reduces air quality by carrying pollutants upward. Overhead air distribution also makes temperature control difficult, as mixed air has a uniform temperature that is usually either too hot or too cold, while energy use is increased because warm air rises and more energy is necessary to push cold air down.
4. Raised Floors Offer Much Needed Flexibility
One of the biggest benefits to a raised floor is the flexibility it offers. The type and location of raised floor tiles is easy to change or exchange, and temperature and air quality may be maintained by adding floor diffusers. Facilities preparing for an upgrade also enjoy easy access to the underfloor space to update technology with minimal disruption.
5. Service Outlets are Easier to Cut
Unlike relying on wall outlets, which require positioning computers in specific locations and running cabling across the floor, access floor systems make it easy to simply install new service outlets. This offers a greater amount of flexibility in terms of upgrades and reorganization.
6. Raised Floors Offer Grounding
Finally, raised floors offer grounding as well. That's because raised floors make it easy to tie into the building ground and, while the floors themselves are not grounded, they offer protection against static dissipation. For computer rooms in which static is a concern, high pressure laminate computer floor tiles are preferred because they dissipate static into the floor system.