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Topic: Machine room ventilation

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  1. #1

    Machine room ventilation

    Right now I keep three computers in my small closet. I have a fan that pulls air into it and for now it works great. In the coming months I plan on getting a couple more giga machines, and I seriously doubt the ventilation setup I have right now will suffice for 5-6 machines.

    So what do you guys do to keep a machine room well ventilated? I brainstormed a little bit and came up with a couple ideas:

    Route the a/c flow into my closet instead of my room. Then purchase a Mr. Slim a/c unit (mrslim.com) to cool my room. The problem with that plan would come during the winter when the mama wants to crank the heat up.

    So scratch that.

    We thought about buying a portable a/c unit for the closet, but I have a feeling that they ain't perfect and would risk condensation build-up on the computers. I'm guessing they're quite large too.

    Nope.

    Enlarge the hole that leads from the closet to the hallway significantly so that air can pass through it freely. Only problem with that is that it's a large gaping hole. I could hear my mother now...

    SO! Suggestions? What do you guys do?

  2. #2

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Yeah yeah yeah computers are supposed to be kept cool. But the truth is that as long as everything is backed up, the cost of air conditioning or other cooling set-up is much higher than the potential cost of replacing some computer part that overheats and burns out.

    My machine room is the garage on the other side of my studio wall, and I don't have any cooling beyond the computers' regular fans. It gets pretty hot in there during the summer, but I've never had a component break from heat in the seven or eight years since I had the trap door cut in the wall and the computer shelf put in.

    Your opinion may vary.

  3. #3

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Aaron,

    Here in the Pacific Northwest I don't have to worry about heat too much, but...

    The key is getting the heat out. In pro racks you can install an exhast fan on the top of a sealed rack to draw the air out. If you can set something up that pulls the hot air out of the PCs and vents it out of the closet, you'll be far ahead of the game. Maybe you could run flexible dryer exhaust tubing from your PC power supplies and fan outlets to a plenum (just a box), and then use a large fan connected to a larger flexible duct. Don't let your mom see the sawsall.

    If you go with A/C, condensation in the closet won't be a problem at all. Air conditioners cause condensation on the hot-side (make sure there's a drain under it), but it de-humidifies the cold-side.

    But if you get the hot air out efficiently, you might not need the A/C. $40 should cover the fan and duct tubes and tape. Buy a dozen roses to make up for the hole in the wall.

    -JF

  4. #4

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by A_Sapp
    Route the a/c flow into my closet instead of my room. Then purchase a Mr. Slim a/c unit (mrslim.com) to cool my room. The problem with that plan would come during the winter when the mama wants to crank the heat up.

    So scratch that.

    We thought about buying a portable a/c unit for the closet, but I have a feeling that they ain't perfect and would risk condensation build-up on the computers. I'm guessing they're quite large too.

    Nope.

    Enlarge the hole that leads from the closet to the hallway significantly so that air can pass through it freely. Only problem with that is that it's a large gaping hole. I could hear my mother now...

    SO! Suggestions? What do you guys do?
    Why not put a ventilation exhaust fan on the closet to pull the hot air out from the top sucking cooler air in from the room through the door seams? This would also give you a more constant temperature which might be more desirable than sudden changes you might get directing A/C into the closet. Remember, hot air rises and cool air sinks.

    Portable A/C units can be fairly small these days but are still fairly noisy. The best system I've seen is by Mitsubishi - the one you mention. I used to use such a system in Japan as these are more popular there than in the U.S. Its a fairly expensive model (by US standards) but has the advantage of putting the noisy part of the unit outside. Remember though, you need a way to drain the condensation (usually a tube runs outside through the wall).

    From what you describe, I'd go with both a closet ventilation fan to remove hot air and the Mitsubish Mr. Slim mounted high on a rear wall to minimize noise. The remote should make it easy to shut off for critical listening. You'll also want to make sure the ventilation exhaust fan runs quite a bit slower than the A/C as its a bit like having an open window.

    I like to keep my main machine next to me (convenient for DVD inserts) but the others I keep further away and in other rooms and connect via Gigabit Ethernet.

    We have two machine room (closets) and we just put a fan in to circulate the air - room is air conditioned.

    Just my free cents.

  5. #5

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Thanks guys.

    Nick, the heat that would build up in the closet with 5-6 machines with just fans would be considerably high. Though to be fair - if my room was near the garage, I would in fact seriously consider setting my computers there. Unfortunately it's on the other side of the house. Even if I ultimately spend more money on energy costs than replacing parts, at least I wouldn't have to do it as frequently (I have sh*t break down often - PC's don't like me). I'm looking for that extra air of assurance (did I use that word right?). It may be a silly reason to many, but I want to chop chop and get to that point where I have a low-maintenance set-up I can just freaking sit down to and compose - as opposed to spending oodles of time fixing this and that, taking the computer back and forth to the store, ect.

    Synergy, I have two holes. One on the top, and one on the bottom pulling cool air in. Stratification baby!

    From what I've read you're able to have two indoor units with a single outdoor unit. How much control you are able to have between the two - I really haven't a clue:



    With two indoor units I could keep the closet sufficiently cool (with a low-speed fan pulling hot air out from the top) and have a cool room to work in too. It gets bloody hot in here in the summer, and the family aren't fans of cranking the a/c. When you got a lot of work to do and it's 85 degrees...

    I'm still seeking alternatives. More input!

  6. #6

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    5-6 machines in a small closet, yeah, you're right to put a fan in there.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Nick's been smokin' that wacky weed.
    Why not just pull in a duct from your house's main AC? My machine room share's a line with the rest of the facility and even though there's no thermostat in there, it stays totally cool all of the time. My studio designer wanted to give it its own unit, but I refused as it would have added on another $2K to the already crazy AC cost...studio A/C is about twice as expensive as normal AC equipment. In retrospect, I'm glad I opted out on the dedicated unit; It's totally fine running off the main line.
    -Jamey

  8. #8

    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Like I said, this would be a problem during the winter months when we start using the heater. If it was all up to me I'd crank the a/c in the middle of December. Unfortunately my family doesn't share the same sentiment. They think me odd when I open my window when it's 30 degrees out.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Machine room ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by A_Sapp
    Like I said, this would be a problem during the winter months when we start using the heater. If it was all up to me I'd crank the a/c in the middle of December. Unfortunately my family doesn't share the same sentiment. They think me odd when I open my window when it's 30 degrees out.
    All you have to do is shut off the baffle...

    However, it is not a super-great solution to use your central AC, because it does not run constantly.

    Instead, all you really need is an exaust fan at the top of the closet. Bathroom types are very noisy, so you might want to make friends with an AC contractor, and have them rig something for you with salvaged parts.

    I guarantee you, someone will come to your aid if you just make a few calls and explain what it is you need, and what you want to do. AC contractors tear out systems with perfectly good fans, parts, etc., and haul them away all the time. So, if you just start exploring the relationships you have, and those of your friends, pretty soon you'll find someone who has access to all the free parts you need, and you'll be fine.

    Just remember the basic premise...hot air rises and wants to escape. In the perfect scenario, the hot air alone is "engine" enough to accomplish the goal. In this case, you're putting more heat into a small space than the air alone can dissipate, so you need to take hot air from the top of the space, and allow cool air to enter the bottom of the space. Lucky for you, cool air loves to hang out on the floor, so essentially you just mount a nice register in the bottom of the door, the exhaust fan at the top of the closet, and all is well.

    The primary issue for you, whether you do this yourself, or you get help, is that you want as little sound as possible (AC fans can be wired at different "speeds," but a "dimmer" will burn them up), and you want to "suck" just enough air to get the heat out of the closet, but not so much that you begin to remove cold air from your house.

    You could probably accomplish this with some flexible ductwork, a few registers for neatness of installation, and one of those basic square box fans.

    This stuff is cheap...a lot cheaper than going out to buy some kind of special cooling system that is overkill for what you need.

    As far as the "neatness" of the installation, it sounds to me from what you wrote that you are venting from the hallway. So, you could install a 12 x 12 filtered register down there and get all the cool, clean air you wanted. Ideally, you'd want to be right above the baseboard, so you get the best bottom to top circulation in the closet. Then, just vent the ceiling of the closet to the attic somewhere, and you're set.

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