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Can You Save 30% on Data Center Lighting Costs by Using White Cabinets?

January 27, 2010


What if you could reduce the lighting requirements in your data center by 30%, what would this save you?

Let’s suppose you have a data center space that is ~5500 sq ft with a total IT load of ~475kW. What would it mean to you to reduce your lighting load by 30% given that this is about 5% of the total power consumed within the space? But more importantly how can you do this without impacting IT personnel when they are working within the space?

Let’s step out of the box and think about things differently. Let’s consider the impact of using white cabinets with white cable management. One of our customers recently expressed to us how using white CPI cabinets made a significant difference in the lighting requirements of their data center. It seems like common sense now that you think about it – white reflects light while darker colors absorb it. With lighter cabinets, it becomes much brighter and easier to see within the space, requiring less lighting.

The same principle, the lighter the color the higher the reflectivity can be applied. Dark walls absorb more light and reflect less. Consequently, far more lighting is required for rooms with dark walls than those with light walls. In addition to the walls, it is a good idea to keep the ceiling light and bright for good reflectance. Most major paint manufacturers can tell you the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of any color paint chip. White reflects 80% of the light, black 5%. Therefore, the higher the LRV number of the paint color, the less artificial light you will need. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that electric lighting accounts for 25% of the electricity used in the United States - a significant amount.

White-Evolution-Cable-Managers.jpgNow back to our ~5,500 sq ft data center scenario. If we estimate the data center using ~475kW with an average of 5% of this going to lighting (23.75kW) a 30% savings is a little more than 7.1kW of the total load calculation. As they say mileage can vary depending on how you configure and drive your data center space but this really is considered a minimum savings. So just by changing the color of your cabinets, you could save money. Additionally, IT personnel said it is much easier to see inside the cabinet, making it easier to install equipment. 

In addition to the customer photos on this page, watch this Cisco Video to see how Cisco used CPI's Glacier White TeraFrame® Cabinet in one of their data centers.

White is the New Black
But what is the cost of white cabinets? The cost of a white cabinet is minimal depending on the components you select. CPI’s TeraFrame Cabinets are available in four standard colors including “Glacier White”. If you combine this with our exhaust duct accessory (as shown in the photos) you’ve got a heat management solution that will provide a cool savings. 

Lastly the look really creates a change in how data centers could be built giving end-users the ability to not only create something that is truly innovative but also have a bright appeal. This season, white is the new black.

Sound Off
We want to hear your thoughts on the subject. Are there drawbacks to using white cabinets and cable management? Are you already using white products? If so, what is your experience? Leave your comments below. Steven Bornfield, Senior Data Center Consultant

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