The market for free cooling technologies for data centers will grow much faster than those of other cooling methods over the next five years, according to a new report by IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc.) Free cooling technologies are forecast to grow at 16.3 percent in revenue terms over the next five years.

Any kind of compressor-less cooling is known as free cooling. These technologies are commonly known as economizer units, which use outside air to cool down a data center either directly or indirectly. Other types of technologies used are evaporative cooling and Kyoto wheels.

According to Andrés Gallardo, research analyst, IMS Research, “After decades of keeping IT equipment as cool as possible, new developments from server manufacturers have allowed data centers to operate at higher temperatures. This has led to the simplest way of cooling known to man: opening a window. Data center managers have not only to maintain uptime but to maintain it at the lowest possible cost; rising energy prices make free cooling a lot of sense.”

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) regularly publishes a series of standards and guidelines that relate to refrigeration systems. From 2010, data centers in the US have been included in the ASHRAE 90.1 standard, which dictates the use of free cooling in new data centers in most areas of the U.S. Although ASHRAE is an American body, these standards are normally mirrored around the globe

Gallardo added, “Although the new standard is not mandatory per se, local jurisdictions traditionally adopt ASHRAE standards and enforce compliance. This might hurt the business of some data-center cooling manufacturers, but I expect this technology to complement traditional cooling. Even in the coolest climates, you might have one day with temperatures higher than recommended for operation, so most data centers will have a fully installed back-up system. Most of the savings will come from operational expenses, not capital expenditure.”

The Data Center Cooling Market – 2012 Edition was published in February by IMS Research. It describes the latest trends affecting the market for data center cooling products; and provides accurate market sizes and forecasts for different product types, heat rejection methods, and countries.