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Topic: Mutiple Computer Cooling

  1. #1

    Mutiple Computer Cooling

    To quote O'Reilly on Fox News....Tell me where I'm going wrong here!

    I have 6 rack-mounted computers that I use in my studio. They are behind a wall, but still noisy and hot. I'd like to cool them as a unit.

    I have devised and designed ALL kinds of systems in my head to do this. All would take time to build and be costly.

    Then one day it hit me....use a small refrigerator...use it like a large case and install the mobo, power supplies and hard drives as in a modular system. I can buy a brand new 4.9 cf refrigerator at Best Buy for $199 that is the perfect size. $199 was only a deposit on my more elaborated conceived schemes.

    So, before I buy a new refrigerator and modify it for a multiple-computer case, what are the pitfalls and perils?

    Is is possible to get the CPUs, hard drives and components too cold? Will there be RFI interference between mobos if they are not wrapped up in individual cases?

    Either I'm absolutely crazy or a genius! LOL

    Ron Williams
    Westminster, CO
    Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our upmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets -- Zoltan Kodaly

  2. #2

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    carefully consider condensation when cooling computers in cold cubicles


  3. #3

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    Aha...good point...something I hadn't thought of. I wonder if there would be a way to deal with condensation in a closed environment like that.
    Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our upmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets -- Zoltan Kodaly

  4. #4

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    ChoralBoss, that is a cool idea. I am curoius to what you decide and what others may chime in with. You might post this in the Sample Library section and OT it. It may get more responses.

  5. #5

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    The problem I see is that the PC will pump out hot air quickly, but the fridge may not be able to cool it all that fast.

    Air conducts heat poorly. Just think how long it takes to freeze an ice tray.

    Next, the PCs will put out a certain amount of heat. Even if the fridge can keep up with the PCs, it's inefficient, and will put out even more heat than the PCs did. You will have to exhaust that air. If not, the fridge will become even more inefficient.

    But if you could put that fridge in a bigger fridge. And then put that one in a bigger one still...

  6. #6

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    lol Great response we obviously did not think about.

  7. #7

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    great answers....now you see why I'm a musician and not an engineer!

    Ron Williams
    Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our upmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets -- Zoltan Kodaly

  8. #8

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    Make sure you check out the operating temperatures of hard drives, you may in fact to be too cold for those in a refrigerator. I had my machines in a very cold corner (in the winter) of my basement, and I had 2 HD's fail. Since I moved 'em haven't had a problem.

    my 2 cents....


  9. #9

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    What if this were NOT a sealed unit .....Set up the fridge with the door off of it , and with a shroud on it that will connect to a rack box holding your PC"s ....Let the cool air from the fridge come IN to the PC's IN vent's , and let the PC's fan's do the work of pulling the cool air thru and out the back of the PC's .... This way you're not heating the cool air in a "sealed" fridge ....You are only PASSING the air thru the computer via the computers fans .....I'm not sure about what the effect of condensation would be .... We run our computers in air conditioned rooms so maybe since the air is not trapped , condensation will not be as much of a problem .....?????.....I'm guessing here .... Just food for thought ....Jim

  10. #10

    Re: Mutiple Computer Cooling

    Hello everyone...

    This thread caught my attention because I've spent considerable time and money on the same problem... cooling multiple racked computers whilst minimizing noise (not necessarily complimentary objectives).

    My solution consists of:

    Computers rack mounted into an IsoBox (Post Production Model, 24U per Box). While pricey, this falls into the "you get what you pay for" adage.

    This type of unit definitely attenuates the noise, but my purchase decision was equally driven by the product's capability to address heating. From what I've found, it's not so much an issue to cool the air around the DAW(s), but rather MOVE the air - more specifically, rapidly displace hot air (that is quickly generated from the computer) with cooler (room temperature) air. So essentially, this is a close quarter circulation problem, and the advantage of a box like this is that you confine and control the area to which this circulation control must be maintained. This unit, and units like it, create a "chimney effect" by pulling cooler (room temp) air from fans and ducts at the base of its unit, and exhausts the air with fans and ducts at the top/rear of the unit.

    The problem, however, is that with enough units or equipment racked, the heat generated will vastly exceed the pace at which the air can be moved out of the box. This was what I encountered at least... and it was measurable because the IsoBox has themometers that measure incoming vs. outgoing air temperature. The longer the air stays in the box, the hotter the outgoing temperature.

    So the challenge was to accelerate this displacement flow.

    I worked with an AC contractor who happened to be friend, and he created a very clever solution. I'm not sure what to call this technically, but he basically engineered an outboard (mounted below the house) "exhaust fan" with ducting that connects to the back of the IsoBox (exhaust outlet). This exhaust fan unit, when turned on, "pulls" the hotair from the IsoBox - or rather, accelerates the rate of exhaust. And because the fan is mounted several yards away (and outside of my room), there is no discernable noise when it's turned on. However, the average temperature inside of the IsoBox with everything running has easily decreased by 20F on average! Prior to this solution, I was seeing an average of 100-105F inside-box temperature... Now, I've yet to see it go beyond 80F which is more than acceptable because the air is being displaced.

    Another way to say it is that the longer the air "hangs around" the hotter everything gets. Accelerate the displacement and you have your solution. The challenge was doing this cost effectively and without increasing noise... so this solution has worked out fabulously!

    The total cost of this "add-on" exhaust unit was about $750 fully installed, and given the results, I would have gladly paid double. Nothing proprietary, just the clever application of some commerical off-the-shelf AC components.

    If any of you are interested in the details, send me a PM and I'll get you in contact with the manufacturers.

    Hope this helps!


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