Opinion of ceiling tiles in a data center

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Data center design
DataCenter
What is your opinion on ceiling tiles in the data center? We are building new facilities and there have been questions regarding the usefulness of a drop ceiling in the data center. Other than reducing the cost of gas fire suppression, are there other reasons a drop ceiling should be used? Assume the raised floor is 18 inches and there will be overhead cable tray and gas will be used for fire suppression. The structural height is about 14 feet.
ASKED: January 9, 2008  2:31 PM
UPDATED: March 7, 2012  11:35 PM

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We have multiple projects with data center with ceiling tiles, here are some comments:

1) The finish floor to ceiling height ratio needs to be taken into account, as you are correct you will severely limit your infrastructure placement.
2) The ceiling tile creates a air return plenum, just as the below the raised floor you create the air supply plenum.
3) Keep in mind the type of tile, some get damage pretty easy and release particles in the air stream.
4) By having raised floor perfs and ceiling grid return air grilles you can better distribute or control your supply and retrun air flows.
5) Ceiling Tile management is required as with raised floor tiles.
6) Cleanliness is critical.
7) I would not use fire gas suppression system in projects with ceiling tile, however I have seen a reduction on thsi approach due to cost.

Our current Datacenter has tile ceilings but it is a nightmare…we can’t get our gas suppression pressure tested because the tiles leak. We have retainer clips on them but atleast one or more tiles always pop loose or the corners crack.

Besides I don’t think you have tall enough ceilings to use tiles anyway. We are currently building a new datacenter and our engineers did some research and the minimum ceiling height is 14 feet. If you put in tiles you are lowering that and you won’t be able to get the heat far enough away from the racks.

Good Point. We have ceiling tile in our DC and we had to install an exhaust to pump the hot air out of the space above the tile canopy. If I could do it all over again I’d nix the tile and go with open ceiling about 20-25 ft with a raised floor.

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  • Colostate
    Our data center is in the process of going overhead with cabling and to do so, the 25 year old drop ceiling will soon be coming out. The very thought of this process keeps me up at night. With very little contact, the acoustical tiles disintegrate into anything from small pieces to a fine dust. In addition, there is a substantial amount of dust and debris on the top side of the tiles. All of these particles will become airborne in a data center with significant air circulation. Turning off the servers or the air flow is not an option. Going through this process while all the equipment in the room remains online is the big challenge. The 75" - 80" server cabinets must be protected on all sides - but not covered so tightly that they get no airflow and overheat. But with only a few inches between the tops of the cabinets and the ceiling tiles, creating a barrier will be difficult. Anyway, my point is: if you're considering a drop ceiling, think ahead to the logistical nightmare you (or someone) will deal with when having to remove it one day.
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  • Darveniza
    I agree a lot of legacy data centers had just standard office ceiling tiles. Vinyl coated are the norm with several clients who have specified on durability, long term placement,etc. Strict procedures need to be in place when removing tiles, some solutions are out there that allow you to create a mini containment area without having to impact the IT equipment
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  • JimmyIT
    [...] a return air plenum to help isolate hot and cold air. There is an interesting comment string on IT Knowledge Exchange, talking about the pros and cons of each [...]
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  • CLARRIFICATION
    I am having Wet formed Mineral fiber composition Tiles(600X600X19mm) Flase Ceiling in UPS,SERVER ,SECURITY rooms in my Building.For designing FM200 flooding,i need clarification on the following Whether i can take up to False ceiling from Floor finish, for volume(3M) OR I have to take up to bottom of slab(4.3M) Kindly reply
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