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What are recommended temperature/humidity ranges for HP equipment?

Posted on 2013-05-24
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Last Modified: 2013-06-06
We're getting the heat sensor triggered in our server room and we need to know "authoritatively" the range of temperature/humidity that is allowable and recommended.

Here is the User Guide for the HP Procurve 2848 switch, for example, which doesn't give any recommended temperature ranges:

http://bizsupport2.austin.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c02565623/c02565623.pdf

An authoritative document for that switch would be very nice, or alternately an authoritative general document about recommended temperature/humidity ranges would be great.  I've tried to do my googling and am coming up somewhat empty-handed.  I did find this user guide for our server:

http://bizsupport2.austin.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c01736500/c01736500.pdf

... see p. 88.  It claims to be able to handle 50 degrees F. to 90 degrees F. (10 - 35 degrees Celsius) with a humidity of 10% to 90%  That seems very high to me.

Thanks a lot.
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Question by:Dwight Baer
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pony10us earned 286 total points
ID: 39195403
"authoritatively" is somewhat difficult to pin down.  Changes in equipment efficiency over the years as well as other factors make this a somewhat sliding scale.  We have always kept our server rooms at 68/72 and that is going back to the late 70's with the large mainframes.  

Some reading:

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/server-room-temperature-recommendation.html

http://www.serverscheck.com/sensors/temperature_best_practices.asp

http://www.gocsc.com/uploads/white_papers/AFC24C0F06964C5897744B7BAF4C6363.pdf
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by:ScottCha
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Those ranges do seem a bit extreme because if you have a room temp of 50 and humidity of 90 you are going to have condensation all over the place.  We had something like this once and you could literally use a paper towel to wipe up the moisture.  I couldn't get facilities to do anything about it until the black mold started to grow and I threatened to call in an environmental team.

We keep our server room at 65 degrees and humidity around 45-50%.

Take a look at this:

http://www.serverscheck.com/sensors/temperature_best_practices.asp
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by:pony10us
pony10us earned 286 total points
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Humidity can be anything between 10 and 50 depending on what else you do in the room. For example if there are high speed printers used in the same room then you have to consider the effect on them and the paper.
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by:davorin
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I doubt that you will find authoritative answer for recommended values.
As you have already noticed you can get quite a large ranges in which the equipment can work.

Higher is the temperature, faster it the electronic components aging. If the temperature is to low, some components have difficulty to work and the cooling expenses grows up.
I think that the most data centers keep the temperature between 16-20 degrees celsius.
But I think that that your best option is to keep the values in the middle of allowed range (22 degrees celsius and 50% humidity).
For a long time we have kept temp. in out data center at 18 C, but after finding Google documents that they keep in their data centers 27 C, we have risen temp to 22C. (We don't have perfect airflow)

http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/efficiency/external/index.html#best-practices
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by:Dwight Baer
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These responses are very helpful.  Except what I'm really looking for isn't the "ideal" temperature ... I'm looking for the highest recommended temperature, above which significant issues will happen with significant frequency.  

I get that it's a sliding scale - the higher the temperature above a certain point, the more quickly the equipment will fail.  But what is that best-practices "certain point"?  In my reading so far, it might be in the range of 95 degrees F. (35 degrees C) for servers, and 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) for routers and switches.  (20%  - 80% or 5% - 95% humidity, respectively).

Any links to support or challenge those numbers?

Thanks
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by:Dwight Baer
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P.S.  My employer is a bank, which is why they need this carefully documented.  And they have a lot of branches with very small server rooms, and with no air conditioning, which is why it's become a pressing concern.  Summer months are approaching.  And we have temperature sensors in the server rooms that have been triggering more and more and sending out alarms to our third-party service that responds to these things.  So you understand the context.
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by:pony10us
pony10us earned 286 total points
ID: 39195595
I have been working in IT for banks since the late 70's as stated above. I just verified that we maintain our server rooms thermostat at 69-F or about 21-C. We keep our humidity control set at 30%.

We have centralized servers and only have communications equipment (routers and switches) in the branches. That equipment is kept in small rooms with heating/cooling provided as in the rest of the building. We do have vents in the doors for circulation. We have not experienced any issues.
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by:Dwight Baer
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Thanks pony10us.

Once again, I'm not looking for ideal temperatures.  I'm looking for the highest temperature, above which we will face significant hardware-related issues, with significant frequency.

I'm sure there's a "sweet spot" somewhere between 70 - 104 F.

Or maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe it's a straight sliding scale - the higher the temperature, the shorter the  life expectancy of the server.
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by:pony10us
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We have had servers start shutting down once the room temp exceeds 90 F. Not all servers, mostly some of the older ones. We have not reached the point that all of them have shut down.  

Keeping in mind that the room temp is much lower than the temp immediately around the equipment. Also keep in mind that most thermostats are set near eye level and heat rises. In our server room, which now only has appoximately 6 servers in racks as we just recently moved to a co-lo, the thermostat is set at 69 however we also have a sensor near the ceiling that shows the temp is 78 F.  

Our main objective was always to keep the ceiling temp below 85 F.  

I am not sure there is an answer to your question as you have asked it since it really depends on the equipment as well.  How much circulation will there be in the room? If it is a small enclosed room with no circulation then the heat given off by the equipment will be stagnant making cooling more critical.
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by:davorin
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In that case I would stick to information you got in support manual.
I understand this, that HP claims, that the equipment should work without functional issues in that range for prolonged time (at least to survive warranty time).But this is not always the case and the failure is not always related to more or less heat.

Significant frequency of hardware-related issues is a quite relative term.
And I doubt that they do this type of tests for servers and network equipment.
But they do that for separate electronic components. Per example I have found data for a model of aluminum electrolytic capacitor that for the same ripple current the lifetime doubles every 10C less. (Starting at 105C = 1x lifetime). So at 55C it should have 32x lifetime. But different models will have different specs.
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by:davorin
ID: 39210110
It depends on the size of server room and the equipment installed there, but if the air conditioning fails, the room temperature will grow rapidly. You could be in less than one hour over the warning/critical temperature and the servers could turn off automatically to prevent hardware failures.
It is also not really likely that the air conditioning will be repaired in 1, 2 or 3 hours. It can take days (experienced by myself :( ). So we have installed a secondary air conditioning and have set it a couple of degrees higher that the primary one. So if the primary one fails, the secondary takes over. Just as suggestion...
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Author Closing Comment

by:Dwight Baer
ID: 39224940
Thanks everybody.  We got what we needed.  We decided to use between 35 and 40 degrees C. as the maximum, which triggers the alarm.  (I'm not privy to the information of what number they're actually going to use in the end).  But we recognize that higher temperatures especially above a certain point will lead to more hardware failures.  The tradeoff is, we can't have the third-party security company come to check our server room because the alarm was triggered, and meanwhile there's nothing we can do to cool the room down anyway.  Or choose to, I guess is the right way to say it.
Sorry I forgot to close this.  The conversation was very helpful.
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