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Cooling My Server Room when external temp goes below 68 degrees

Hey Gang
Im Adding a new rack to my server room - and the heat load is going to fry me
basically I have taken a regular office room and have converted it to an IT/Telecoms Network Operations Center
right now I have 7 tower servers and 2 monitors in this room (10' x 10')
in order to cool the room during the summer - i have a 1.5 ton (18k BTU) window a/c unit and a 1 ton (12k BTU) portable a/c unit (vented out a window - sealed and thermal tape the dutcs)
that along with the central a/c in the room keeps it right about 72 (temp range during hottest season are 72-100)
during winter months though - the central air goes off in favor of heat for the rest of the building, and I block my intake/vent to the central system
the window ac unit will quit working once the external temp drops below about 68 degrees - and the portable continues to run and struggles to keep to room approx 74-78 (i hate it!!!)
Most important - I have to sit in this room all day as well - other wise I wouldnt be that worried about 74 degrees
last year i just fought with everyone else and let the central air conditioner keep running - which helped but froze everyone else  - we just got them little space heaters
but with adding this new rack, and having some more equipment surely to come - I need a more permanent solution

I also don't want to spend $5k on a split system for this room of I can help it

so here is my idea

I am going to get casements built in my existing window and put 2 2ton(24k BTU) window air units in there (total cost including ac's and carpentry is about $800)
That will certainly keep me kool until the external temps get down to 68 degreess
But for the 68 and lower degrees days - i was considering some sort of fan system that would bring enough outside air in to keep the room kool
humidity tends to drop during that time as well so that shouldnt be a problem

I was just wondering - has anyone actually done something like this - certainly some of my more northern (im in southeast georgia) EE's must have considered using outside air to kool thier server rooms - but I havent really found any of it on the net

any help or ideas or USEFUL comments will be rewarded!

6 Solutions
bigbillydotcomAuthor Commented:
put 2 2ton(24k BTU) window units - for a total of 4 tons of AC
bigbillydotcomAuthor Commented:
>>I also don't want to spend $5k on a split system for this room of I can help it - that would include a 4 ton ac with a low ambient switch to make sure it worked when external temps went down

Another important thing to consider is that HVAC tech service is our area is completely unreliable for small business purporses - there just is not enough money in this project to make them even call us back for a quote - i'd hate to think if we actually bought something and were stuck waiting for service

thats why I have decided to try and do this using stuff I can pretty much get from home depot


Hi bigbillydotcom,

Here is my two cents.  I have a full rack mount with 6 dual xeon rack servers and couple of tower servers. I have centralized a/c vents and 2 15kBTU air conditioners in the server room. Problem we had was the centralized a/c shuts down every night after 5p. We didn’t get a split system because it is a leased office area and not worth it in the long run.
The 2 a/c works like a charm. I wouldn’t use outside air because of the dust and humidity it brings it. The rack mount servers are particularly dust sensitive.

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bigbillydotcomAuthor Commented:
thanks robin
i thought about the humidity/dust thing
I wonder if ther eis some sort of inexpensive filtration system to use to pul the air in
I dont really have any input for the AC, your solution seems to be fine. I would suggest a dehumidifier for the room. This will assist in cooling and also keep your servers safe from humidity.
bigbillydotcomAuthor Commented:
Thanks Shadow
Right now humidity doesnt seem to be much of a problem - the portable ac also serves as a dehumidifier
thanks - keep the comments coming
This is all overkill, unless you work in the server room all day and what we are really talking about is a comfort issue. Consider that systems don't generally shut down until the thermometer inside the case hits 150-170 degrees. Of course, you don't want the server room to be 100 degrees, but you can certainly get away with the room being, say, 80-85 degrees. In fact, I would venture to say that most of the server rooms I have ever worked in seem to be about that.

I think a bigger issue here is humidity within the server room. Most folks overlook this factor. Generally speaking, you want the humidity to be between 50-70 percent or so. Low humidity causes static electricity which can be the end of a server motherboard. I'd worry more about humidity than temperature in your case.
My 2 cents for an air conditioner through an inside in your room, heat exhausted into the building...for the winter months.
try to make some air piping..

First... try to make some piping from the hot air that goes out from these servers to outside the room... myabe a two inches pipes for each fan will be good... all these two inches pipes will go to a central 4 inches one... lets say every 3 - 4 racks will have one 4 inches pipe...

the pipes will direct the hot air directly outside the room... this will help very much as more cooling will not be effective more that getting rid of hot air it self...

If you need more.. you can pipe a cold air ( coming from window AC's ) and direct them to the racks air holes so the cold air will be constrated to the servers... the rest of the room will be cooled with the central AC... and because the hot air is going away from the room. the inside temp. will be acceptable some the central AC will be more effective in the room duo to lower temp.
How abt putting giant Exhaust units for the room. They will circulate enuf air to make sure that the temperature remains in line.

I would say that bad circulation of air is the foremost cause of high temps. Also putting additional coooling fans in the systems is not a bad idea and keeps the entire setup temperature low and the air circulating. This is what i did with my server room and its worked like a charm. It doesnt get very humid here just on a few days which i think i can handle after all the systems are more important :)

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