What is the best antistatic flooring option for data centers and computer rooms?
The choice of anti static flooring for a data center involves a number of considerations but, the single most important factor is the type of footwear people will be wearing while working in the data center. In most situations, footwear cannot be controlled in data centers. For this reason it is always recommended that you select your floor with the premise that the floor must prevent static regardless of the composition of the shoe soles your people choose to wear in the work place.
Approaching the selection process from this perspective enables you to inhibit static generation on anyone at anytime regardless of humidity, the sensitivity of your servers or the application and critical nature the servers represent to your mission or operation.
Generally speaking, the effectiveness of static control flooring properties is based on:
A floor's ability to prevent static in the first place regardless of traffic, humidity or the type of footwear worn by people occupying the space. This ability is called preventing body voltage generation or BVG. This property is measured using test method ANSI/ESD S97.2. The test results should include measurements with and without static control footwear.
The intrinsic ability of the floor to be grounded. This is also called finding a traceable "Ground path." This property is measured using test method ANSI/ESD S7.1-2005. Test results should be obtained on samples that have been preconditioned at humidity levels below 20%. A "Ideal data center floor" will usually measure below 1.0 X 10E8 ohms and above 150,000 ohms using this test. In the case of anti-static carpet, the test should be performed on new and used carpet to determine if traffic and abuse will degrade the Groundable path.
The following materials have been evaluated for effectiveness in data centers. They appear in descending order of suitability:
Ideal: ShadowFX Static dissipative carpet tile: Material cost approximately $3.75-$4.00 per square foot. Can be installed as a floating floor without any adhesive. Major disadvantages: Soft surface
Ideal: 2 layer Eclipse Rubber tile and sheet flooring: Material cost approximately 5-6 dollars per square foot. Disadvantage: Initial cost
Recommended but less effective than options 1 and 2:Static control vinyl: Material cost approximately $3.25-$4.00 per square foot: Disadvantage: Must be used in conjunction with antistatic footwear.Disadvantage: offers negligible static control performance versus traditional/standard vinyl flooring.
Not Recommended: Conductive carpet tile (too conductive), Computer grade floors such as low KV carpet, Dataguard carpet, SDT and High Pressure Laminates (HPL). The anti-static properties of these options quickly degrade after installation and it has been documented in numerous studies that all of these materials become less effective without the regular applications of special anti static waxes, dissipative polishes and Statguard sprays. These materials are often specified as meeting the outdated IBM Burroughs test.
Although static control vinyl is a significant upgrade over traditional types of flooring, most studies have show that vinyl is less effective than rubber for static mitigation in environments where street shoes are typically worn.
Checklist: Choosing the Right Static Control Flooring
- Only static dissipative and conductive floors can be grounded. Standard flooring installed with ground strips or conductive adhesive will not offer any static protection.
- According to IBM, floors must measure above 150,000 ohms (1.5 X 10 E5) for use in data centers and server rooms. ShadowFX carpet tile and Eclipse Rubber flooring meet this guideline.
- Any effective static control floor can be verified with an ohm meter to determine the electrical resistance of the material. If the material does not pass the ohm meter test than it cannot be grounded.
- Static dissipative and conductive floors should never require any antistatic sprays or waxes to enhance or maintain performance. The dissipative properties should be achieved by the physical composition of the material - not by a maintenance additive.
- The floor should reduce static electricity regardless of relative humidity. Ask the supplier specifically about performance in very dry conditions.
- The floor must prevent static buildup in real world conditions without special static-free shoes or shoe straps. When in doubt, ask for independent test data verifying this property. It should be available. The data should come from an installed floor and not from a lab test of new flooring.
- Never assume that a shock-free environment means a static-free environment. A shock-free environment only means that static charges are below 3500 Volts.
- Do the homework up front. It is much more costly to remove an ineffective floor and replace it than it is to do it right the first time. Any mission-critical space is only as secure as its Achilles' heel.
- Even if your present electronics are immune to static, if at some point in the future they will be upgraded or replaced with state-of-the art equipment, then static will be a problem. As with any potential security breach, it is always best to plan ahead.
For More Information Please View Our Applications Chart
Protection for Mission Critical Applications Equipment
Selecting the right flooring for a mission critical application can be confusing. That's because most technical data on antistatic flooring presents specifications obtained in lab tests where the flooring was tested in combination with static free footwear. People don't wear special footwear in data centers, server rooms and command centers so the flooring needs to prevent static on people wearing any type of shoes.
Eclipse Rubber and ShadowFX carpet tile have been tested and approved for grounded installation around operational computer equipment. MIT Lincoln Labs has documented that Staticworx Eclipse rubber prevents the generation of static on people wearing standard footwear better than any other static control flooring option.
Eclipse rubber is made in tiles, sheet flooring, runners, or as a finish for use over raised access flooring panels. Click here to learn more about EC rubber.
In Staticworx® ShadowFX Carpet, the Helix™ dissipative fibers are woven into the yarn bundle, creating an infinite number of contact points. These contact points provide a controlled path to ground, to quickly and effectively remove static charges. So your floor will never again be the weak link in a mission critical operation.
ShadowFX Carpet Tile
Safer than "conductive 2.5 X 10 E4 carpet" - Superior to Commercial-grade "Anti-Static" Carpet
Staticworx® Carpet Tile, the recommended solution for data storage and communications centers, is far superior to commercial "anti-static" carpeting. And, unlike "conductive carpet tiles, ShadowFX can be used while wearing headsets around operation electronic equipment. "Antistatic" or low kV carpeting may reduce static build-up, but does not dissipate the static charge to ground. Furthermore, the backings of commercial "anti-static" carpeting act as insulators, storing static charges rather than dissipating them to ground. ShadowFX carpet tile. Comes in a range of colors.
ShadowFX Carpet Tile Features:
- Redundant dissipative paths to ground
- Meets FAA Standard 019E
- Ideal for Mission Critical Environments
- Lifetime Static Control Warranty
- Unique Patented Fiber and Carpet Tile Construction
- Patented Dissipative Releasable ESD Adhesive
- Modular design for mix and match
- Ten Colors for ShadowFX Carpet Tile
- Two Standard Stock Colors for Eclipse Rubber
- Custom Colors Available on All Products
- Meets ANSI/ESD S20.20
- Meets Motorola R56, FAA 019E and ATIS-0600321
- Certified Installers or Turnkey Application
- Easy Installation Over Access Flooring, Concrete or VCT
- Low Maintenance and Lifetime Warranty
Relevant articles on Mission Critical Flooring
- Here is a link to an article published by an Emergency 9-1-1 journal about flooring for 911 call centers. This may prove helpful since 911 application criteria for flooring are almost identical to those for data centers.
- Here is a link to an article, originally published in the Data Center Journal about selecting flooring for Data Centers.