Earth Day is a time for us to reflect on the ways we can make this planet a healthy living space for generations to come. Here at Clearwire, our engineers had an Earth Day mindset when they went to work building our environmentally-friendly cabinets that house 4G base stations. These cabinets ultimately reduce the amount of energy consumed by our cell sites, and in turn reduce our carbon footprint on planet Earth. So in honor of this special day, we thought we’d tell you a little bit more about these “green” cabinets.
Generally speaking, we utilize the same type of cabinet to house our equipment – called base stations – at each cell site, but depending on the outside temperature we use one of two different cooling systems. The cost of energy needed to cool cell sites is one of the most expensive single operating expenses wireless operators incur. By making our cooling systems and cabinets as efficient as possible, we not only reduce our operating costs, but we also reduce our carbon footprint.
In some markets, like those in the Pacific Northwest where temperatures remain relatively mild, less energy is needed to control cell site temperatures. So in these cooler markets, we use DAC cabinets. DAC stands for Direct Ambient Cooled, meaning these cabinets draw in ambient outside air through high-quality air filters and push out the warm air generated from the base station. This process naturally keeps the equipment cool. No a/c necessary! And the energy needed to keep these sites’ temperatures under control is estimated to be 90% less than what our older cabinets required. We’re sure Mother Nature appreciates that.
In other markets, where the stifling climate makes air conditioning a necessity (hello Hotlanta!), we use a cooling system called AIO, which appropriately stands for All-In-One. The AIO cabinets filter in outside air to cool the equipment – just like the DAC cabinet. But when the temperature gets too hot outside (we’re talking 100+ degrees people), the AIO closes the damper door and turns on its own air conditioner to continue keeping the equipment cool. What does this ultimately mean? Well, most air conditioning systems use a constant speed compressor and that causes it to cycle on and off whenever the heat gets a little uncomfortable. So ours essentially is smart enough to recognize when it is absolutely necessary for the a/c to kick on. Otherwise it just uses outside air to keep the equipment cool. Pretty cool, huh?
In addition, for both DAC and AIO cabinets, as we add more equipment in our cabinets to support the data needs of our growing customers, these solutions adapt to the increased equipment load to keep them cool. This keeps Clearwire from spending more money to upgrade the cooling system as our sites grow. We currently have 516 of these new cabinets deployed in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco, and we plan to only use these green cabinets in future builds.
Now it’s your turn. What are you doing today (or every day) to make the earth a better place?