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Running a Server outdoors

I might have a situation where I need to locate a server in the middle of a parking lot. I am located in the Northeast so we get all 4 seasons, sometime extremely so.
I am not sure how to really go about this.
Do I use an outdoor enclosure like from L-Com? If so how do I handle cooling it?
Do I build a small shed to house the server? Again, how would I cool it?
Just brian storming here, any ideas or experience would be helpful.
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Why would you ever need to locate a server in the middle of a parking lot?  That's seems like a big risk.
I second Necamus's comments.  Don't forget that you will need to get power to the server and connect it to network hardware.  Why would it need to be in a parking lot?  That is just a bad idea all around.  


Perhaps I didn't express myself properly, the server will be outside, somewhere near the parking lot. The parking lot is not the main concern, I am interested more in options for running a server in an outdoor environment.
Thanks :->

Is this a joke? in the middle of a parking lot?
I suppose if it had to be done, I would have a building built in one of the parking spaces to the size of that space, make sure you have power and internet access if required, you can use a wall mounted air conditioner (http://www.comparison.com.au/system/image_library/6756/Mitsubishi_MSZ-GB50VA.jpg) but I would use two so you would have a failover unit. Make sure there are no windows to this building and use a multi-door lock combination to help prevent it from being broken into. Other than that I would just take recomendations from your building contractors for the rest.

Same response.  Why are you trying to run a server outside?  I still can't think of a reason for this.

Worst case scenario: put the server somewhere nice and comfy, and put a terminal that connects to the server outside.  Which could consist of a cheap laptop depending on what you need to do.
You'd have to build/purchase some sort of structure to maintain a climate. You can get a little portable AC unit from home depot, but you want to make sure it doesn't get too cold in Winter.
I know we get asked to do some weird stuff in IT, but this is definitely one of the weirdest I've heard. Why in the middle of a parking lot?


The server needs to be outside due to limitations on connectivity. It has to be this way, of that I am sure. Housing electronic equipment outside is very common in my industry (security). With the move to IP based equipment though some things are not all that common, like housing a server outside.

In case you do actually put a server outside, make sure you also keep the humidity in check.  Don't want water forming.  

And up_grayed_out, how cold is too cold?  I'd run my computers at absolute zero if it was possible, assuming I didn't have to worry about ice forming.


Necamus, good point about humidity, thanks. And I agree, I don't think cold is the problem.
Okay, parting comment.. most of this depends on the budget, but have you considered storing that server in a vehicle?  I've known people to run servers in trucks while doing field testing.  You could potentially hook up a large battery array to store sufficient power, and have an external power cord leading to an outlet on a nearby building to charge batteries / power the server without batteries.  Also, being from the Massachusetts, I know we can have some pretty serious blizzards, so if it became necessary to move the server to a safer location, this would definitely make that a lot easier and safer.
The recommended ASHRAE specs are 68° to 80°. That doesn't mean your server is going to fail at 67°. Just means your MTBF is shorter. Have a few sub-freezing days in a row, and you could be looking at sezied up bearings, maybe a head crash. And like you said, humidity will need to be controlled. Cold+humidy=frost.
Distinguished Expert 2019
How powerful a server do you need? Could you get away with a ruggedized laptop or PC? You could for example get a PC that's designed to work under water and hide it in a sewer, or use a ruggedized laptop mounted on a telegraph pole so nobody could pinch it.


Put it in a truck, hide it in a sewer - now that's the kind of thinking I can appreciate!
Necamus, - very interesting idea, I like the idea of being able to relocate it. We actually have a similar setup we will possibly be providing to law enforcement, but that is another topic. Thanks for your input.
Up grayed - thanks for the thought on the hard drives, good point.
Andyalder - unfortunately it does need to be a server but you just reminded me of a particular manufacturer that specializes in hardened servers, TAG I think was their name. I will look into that further.
Thanks guys
Proper HVAC is the biggest issue.  You can condition the power, beg/borrow/steal the connectivity.  But, even when racks of servers are flown into a remote installation...they have to be protected.

If this is a physical security installation, you can use a portable guard shack with two A/C units.  You can't run on just one because they don't have a 100% duty cycle...or at least not 100% of the time.  Even in a nice office building there are redundant A/C units.  I have a 3-ton backup for my two racks.

Most good guard shacks will provide adequate physical protection from casual problems like petty theft, vandals, rain, wind, etc.  A determined attacker can get inside an office building...so trying to make things bullet-proof are not realistic.

Although...I can recommend some great paneling from Norplex Micarta.  Depending on which test, 16,000psi and higher.  Very strong stuff, but light.  Level III sheets (4'x8') are around 150 pounds, and you can make them into doors.  Great protection from theft and vandalism...just try kicking your way through that wall.  Ain't going to happen.  Cover it with fabric panels or drywall, and you'll never know it's there.  Laminates just fine with drywall, adhesive, and screw.  Lots of pre-drilling.

Are you concerned by physical protection, or with the operating environment?  A good customized shack can give you both.  Rack it up in a portable rolling enclosure, and you can move the equipment separate from the shack.


aleghart: This looks like a pretty good solution, or close enough that one of these companies can build what I need. Thank you. I hope you dont mind but I am going to award some points to the other guys because they had some good ideas too.
Thanks everyone.
All good suggestions.  Just remember that even if it's a 1-person station, size makes a big difference. More space = better HVAC.  Small spaces have no "reserve" for cool or heat.  So, if you open a door for a moment, you change the internal environment quickly.

A 5x10x7 room = 350 cu.ft.  A small 6" fan can change the air in one minute...an open door even faster.

A 8x12x8 room = 768 cu.ft.  Twice the volume, but doesn't take up much more space on the ground.

HVAC will be more predictable, and moving in/out won't exchange the same percentage of air in the room.

Also, shade panels or awnings and onsite placement (and orientation to the sun) will make a difference.

Best of luck with your project.