Computer in Garage, Temperature?

Posted on 2005-04-21
Last Modified: 2008-03-17
I would like to put a computer in my garage to wirelessly transmit backups to. I live in the Chicago area where it can get bitter cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. Fortunately my garage remains relatively warm (above freezing) during the winter, and below melting during the summer. I am wondering whether a computer would work in this type of climate?

Question by:FASTECHS
    LVL 95

    Assisted Solution

    by:Lee W, MVP
    I suspect it would be ok, but keep in mind if you operate outside of the specs too much, you might have problems.  

    Consider the Seagate 120 GB ST3120026A:,1085,580,00.html
    Operating Temps are 0-60 C (32F-127F)
    But to prevent possible rust, you also don't want it to be too humid and to prevent static, there should be SOME humidity.  I believe 40-70% humidity is usually ok.
    LVL 5

    Assisted Solution

    I set up a computer for a paintball field one time... the computer was located outdoors not far from a busy highway... despite all the dust, dirt, rain and everything (it had a rotton wood cabinet) and heat in the summer... it only crashed once in the summer due to extreme heat.  I was there for 2 years... and it ran for 2 years but who knows after I left ;-)  Anyways... computers tend to be more hardy than we think sometimes.

    Might want to consider something like no fans in it... like a mini-itx board.  That'd be cool.

    LVL 95

    Assisted Solution

    by:Lee W, MVP
    Reason I said MIGHT have problems.  Just like intel and AMD chips can be overclocked (thus operating outside of specifications) I suspect most hardware can go at least 10-20% beyond the otherwise "published" limits.
    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    I would install a fan for circulating the air around this computer, the inner fans may not be enough to cool them in the summer
    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution


    If you intend on risking your hardware, I seriously advise you to get an onscreen temperature monitor(unified system diagnostic manager v3) so you can see how your processor is doing.  Even though cold will not have a total effect on your computers hardware, heat will.  If your not supplying enough ventalation through the computer to the components you are risking a meltdown.  I've been watching my temperature with a new computer that I built and I idle at 93 degrees F.  Once it gets hot outside (leaking inside) and I open the door, my processer will jump from 93 to 110.  I have 3 5 inch fans in my PC, it still gets that hot.

    Bottom line, if its really hot outside, keep your PC off, OR, put a housefan next too it, crack the case open, and let it do some home-made venting.  

    You can also check your BIOS and flip on an auto temperature shut-down.  If it gets <x> hot it will shut down.  

    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    you can use a PII intel pentium model, those do not run so hot, but when the temperature goes above 40°C, you will probably run into trouble, so a kind of temperature control is wanted.
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    I have installed numerous computers into industrial environments much worse than your garage.  Most likely, you won't have a problem.  The cold should not be an issue, particularly if the machine is allowed to run continuously. The electronics will keep the inside of the case fairly warm.  Heat, on the other hand is your enemy.  

    Points to consider:

     Since you are using this machine as a simple file server/backup it does not need a lot of horsepower. Older PII and PIII systems run a lot cooler than the currrent generation of processors.  As such, you can get away with putting them into more extreme environments.  As we both know, it is not possible to purchase a machine of this type from your local electronics retailer anymore.  So, if you choose this route you will probably end up with a used machine.  Before using a used machine for a data critical application (backups, etc) you should consider replacing the power supply,  and replacing the HDD (You'll probably want to do this anyway to increase storage capacity), and upgrqade the OS to XP, pro or home, it doesn't matter.  Either version will greatly simplify your wireless networking.

    If using a new machine,  look for a case that has air intakes on the front, and exhausts on the back.  Most are like this but if possible try to find one that allows for some sort of filter on the intake (and don't forget to clean it regularly).

    Install and run temperature monitoring software.  All modern processors have temperature sensors built into the structure of the silicon that can be read with appropriate software.  I use a program called Motherboard Monitor(  on all of my machines.  It can be set to alarm and/or shutdown the machine if the temps get too high.  It also can conveniently display temps in the system tray for quick status checks.   You can also set temp shutdown limits in BIOS.  I recommend doing both for redundancy.

    Finally, as a point of reference,  my machines typically run around 20 to 30 Degrees C above ambient.  Most people recommend setting CPU temp alarms at 70C so you should be able to run safely up to about 40C... thats 104F.

    Oh, one more thought.  Try to install the PC low in the garage. The temperature gradient in it probably varies by  10 or more degrees from bottom to top.



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