Proper temperature for server room?

When  I come into the office (where the server equipment runs) the thermostat reads 70-73.   I KNOW it's warmer than that - I have a very good 'body temperature gauge' - mostly because my husband controls the thermostat at home and we fight over it all the time ;)  The temp when I come in in the morning feels about 78-80 degrees and too warm for the server.  The a/c is left off for the night.  My boss and I are having a disagreement about this and I am getting some ticked off looks and frankly some negative comments.  I am on the conservative side.

What is the optimal temperature for the server on an overnight and daily basis?

Thanks, Libbi
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Often times different equipment specifies operating temperatures up to 90f or 95F, but it varies by manufacturer and device.  Many companies target a 68f to 74f temperature, but again it depends on the equipment housed in the equipment rooms.  Most of the large manufacturers such as HP IBM Dell Cisco APC etc provide operating and storage specifications and you will want to target a range that fits all the specs, and gives some margin so that is the AC fails you will have time to shut equipment down before you have a failure.

Encourage others to consider the consequences of an equipment failure due to overheating.  The costs of equipment replacement, data recovery, down time, and other expenses should far outweigh the costs  saved by turning off the AC.  If that doesn't help, sometimes SWAG numbers (scientific wild ass guess) have come to the rescue for me a couple of times.  Equipment generally runs better and last longer in a cool DRY environment.  Shutting the air off at night will allow the humidity to rise and warmer humid air running across cool components can cause light condensation, and while it won't ruin the equipment right away, it can cause the equipment to fail sooner than in might otherwise (2 days after the warranty expires, sometimes 3).  In almost all things in life, consistency is a good thing, and it is no different here.  It would be best to keep a consistent cool temperature in the server room 24/7.
Then both of you will look great warmth wise.  
When I was doing mainframes and minis, the room temperature was set at about 57F.  Room temperature depending on the time of the year was a few degrees warmer; I don't think it went above 65F.

In a large network operation areas, it is kept purposely cool and while I haven't kept policy on room temperature (large companies tend to have people with specialized positions, facilities managers are usually the ones that are tasked with that responsibility), I can definitely guarantee it doesn't go above 65F and feeling wise, I suspect that they also try to keep it around the 55-57F range.  

In a small to medium sized company (e.g. about 250 people), the size of the network room tends to be small, I had a room that was about 10x20 and another one was; I think 10x15.  We attempted to keep the rooms as cool as possible, but due to the room size, insulation (or lack of) from the rest of the office plus issues relating to the outside world temperature, the massive heat output from the servers and other network devices there were a huge flucuation, and I dare say that temperatures on one occassions did hit 70F.

So if you go by the older specs 55F is what you are probably trying to shoot for 24x7.  If you have newer equipment that expel less heat and is a little bit more tolerant of higher temperatures, you may be looking at 60F to accomodate those of us that are not accustom to really cool rooms.

Also realize that every -1 degree costs more money in terms of more powerful HVAC unit to independently cool off your network room.

Small businesses (1-10 people) tend to be really ad hoc and equipment seems to be everywhere.  Room temperature there seems to be whatever the office workers can bear.

Also, if you have a decent sized network room (10x20) with a lots of heat producting equipment, it may be advisable to keep the AC on 24x7 and just let the AC regulate temperature.

If BEST practices work for the big guys, should the little guys strive for the same???


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Hi chawcheskew,

Yes, as your situation permits.  Biggest factor tends to be money.

Most if not all of the generally accepted practices have evolved from mostly trial and error (and studies of those trial and errors) on a large scale.  Factoring in all the minute details of the advantages and disadvantages; those specs were arrived at.

I took a look at the site. And note that the URL is a brochure page advertising a service and the 65F temperature is at the upper limit of their specification.  Imagine the PERCEIVED issues that would arise if their environment temperature went to 66F or 67F.  Room temperature tends to be a function of cooling power mitigated by the available heat sources which includes the number of pieces of equipment, number of people, the ambient heat in the room and environment where the cooling unit resides (especially if its on the roof).  The lower limit of this is either 53F or 55F.  

In this instance (, 65F is the ttemperature this site can guarantee it won't exceed under the greatest state of flucuation (maybe specifcations are 99.999% acurate) or its just a temperture that they can guarantee that they will not exceed in the course of normal business operations.   That you will have to discuss that with the service provider.  So you may not want to take that as an absolute 65F with a tolerance of +/- 0F.

thats true.  Thats why I just listed it as an example.  From the sounds this is a smaller operation than the examples you spoke of, and the example I posted.  However the point remains.  80F probably works, 70F would be better.  And Consistency is always benificial.
I agree, consistancy is a key factor and varying the temperature on a wide scale does not help equipment.  And in terms of expressing temperature vs the scale of economy per the business; obtaining a cooler work environment for your equipment without breaking the bank is an acceptible practice.  I think that could be inferred from the first post.

(I don't think I was ever disputing any of your points)

This is simple (and no offence meant to anyone here)...

As cool as possible without reaching freezing temperature. Not that you could get it to freezing I think, unless you can come to some sort of agreement with your company's kitchen staff and house the server in the cooling room.

OK, I am just joking around now!

But seriously, if I was you I'd try to convince your boss to get the AC to run 24/7, or at least to stay on a couple of hours longer and turn back on a bit earlier. Can only do good. While you're at it, mention to him to install an extra AC unit in there. That way, if he doesn't agree and the mushy brown pudding hits the fan, you'd be able to say: "I'd hate to say I told you so, but I told you so!".

Case in point: I was once responsible for about 40 brand new PCs (famous and very popular brand), installed in a classroom environment. AC count: none.
I begged, advized and eventually demanded ACs to be installed without any results from the people controlling the cheques.

After year 1, 2 PCs blew.
After year 2, about 15 remain in working condition.

Now then, this was with normal Desktops and doesn't really apply to your situation as you have at least some sort of cooling in place, but it exclaims the point good enough.

Let me say this again, tell your boss in your best Mr. T impersonation: "Make it cool fool!"

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Thanks for the points Libbi!

Just out of curiousity, it was the Mr. T thing that sealed the deal, right? :)
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