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post #1 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I have my server and networking equipment on the top shelf of a typical bedroom closet. The heat is stuck in the top of the closet and the components just cook. For about two years I've just left it as-is because even though it was hot, it never caused a problem. However, I've added a bunch of drives and upgraded my server recently and decided I need to deal with the heat before the warm weather kicks in. My goal isn't to have the closet at the standard room temperature, but just to have a way to remove excess heat build-up by getting some sort of air flow going.

I read several threads in other forums on AVS and elsewhere. Some involved cutting a hole and using a fan, either a bathroom vent fan or PC fans rigged up to external power. The most basic is to use a vent fan blowing into the attic. The problem with that is you are also blowing your cooler air into the attic where your return air system cannot reuse it. Plus you are running a fan 24/7 and that fan is either cheap and loud or expensive and quiet.

The next solution seems to be cutting a hole into the closet and using fans to blow the air into an adjacent room while having enough cool air flow into the closet either under the doors or through a secondary hole/vent. This keeps the air in your home and lets the return air system in that area deal with sucking up the heat. I almost went with this approach and even bought some fans, molex adapters, and an external molex PCI slot connector. But now I need to return that because I went with the HVAC approach.

I decided to use my "high efficiency" HVAC unit to my advantage since it runs its fan 24/7 cycling the air at a lower speed until it speeds up for heating/cooling. I went with a 4" solution and bought insulated flex duct, starter collar, diffuser (used in reverse), 2x band clamps, foil tape, and a 4" dia sheet metal (bi-metal) hole saw.

I cut a 4" hole in my closet ceiling and inserted the diffuser.


Then I connected the 4" insulated flex duct using foil tape and band clamps.


On the other end I drilled the 4" hole into my return air box near the three other 10" return ducts. Make sure you have a sheet metal cutter or you won't get far and have to go back to the store the next day...

I then inserted the 4" Starting Collar and connected the other end of the duct with foil tape and band clamps.


As a final touch I drilled a 4" hole through the lower part of the closet and inserted a 4" Eave Vent to provide enough intake of room temperature air. I bought two of these and just used the cap from the second. It is the perfect length to go between a wall the thickness of a 2x4 and two pieces of Sheetrock. These could probably be used with one of the other solutions as well.


All that is left is to seal the ducts with duct sealant, but I'm waiting to make sure I'm happy with everything as-is. It is a big enough PIA to remove foil tape, I don't want to be removing duct sealant as well.

From my testing, using my ThermaPen, the top of my closet is now staying at 85F and my HDDs are at 30C (86F). That isn't bad IMO. Stuff is warm, but not as bad as it was. In the end I spent around $65 or so on the entire solution, excluding tools. It would have been cheaper if I didn't have to buy 25' of ducting since I only needed about 10'.

I'm sure some HVAC contractor would have a fit, but I tried to do everything I could properly.

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post #2 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 01:39 PM
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Definitely trying to plan this kind of solution myself, but I may go with a "tech closet" that A/V and network lines split out of feeding the rest of the rooms in a house.

I'd like to incorporate a few registers/returns either way

Question: How are you going to keep it from "heating" your stuff in the winter?
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm only using the air return, not a register. Your HVAC has two parts, sucking and blowing. I'm sucking the air out. No need to blow air in because room temperature air will be pulling into the closet to replace what is sucked out. I added the Eave vent opening in case the gap under the doors wasn't sufficient.

A note on this solution:

In the winter I'm returning warmer air directly into the system which would (slightly) reduce the heating required. In the summer the warmer air will require more cooling. In the end it isn't any different than if my equipment was sitting in the middle of an open room. It is all the same amount of heat being added to my house.

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post #4 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

I'm only using the air return, not a register. Your HVAC has two parts, sucking and blowing. I'm sucking the air out
Understood (didn't read carefully enough first time through)

Looks easy enough on the overall system. I'd bet the only minor concern would be dust-accumulation. You could probably measure it during the summer by fitting a case-fan-filter in the airflow path for a few months. Our return air filters dust-up pretty fast, but closet-air flow should be much less especially in the ceiling. The eave might also show signs if it were a problem. It's probably a non-issue
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post #5 of 21 Old 04-01-2013, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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A week later and things are still running well. We are now in warmer weather and the A/C has been kicking on. That means the room temperature is now at the upper limit of the thermostat settings which gives it a base temp of about six more degrees F. I need to break out the ThermoPen again and see how the temps are looking.

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post #6 of 21 Old 04-01-2013, 11:41 AM
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Can you take pics of the pieces installed? I have the same issue for a new house being built. Thanks.
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post #7 of 21 Old 04-01-2013, 01:41 PM
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I have a server room in my basement and have opted for active cooling to help on days when the temperatures in that room get too far out of control. I also have a register vent there which I close in the winter but open up during the summer to help in cooling the space.



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post #8 of 21 Old 02-26-2014, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Just realized I'm about a year in on this mod. Still works great. Made it through the summer in Georgia with no issues.

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post #9 of 21 Old 02-26-2014, 12:27 PM
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Your approach sounds like a winner. You might bring the temps down a few more degrees with an inline fan to help the circulation. Home Depot has one for about $30.

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post #10 of 21 Old 02-26-2014, 12:35 PM
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Nice thread! Funny I was driving today thinking for about a half hour how I plan to cool my dedicated theater av closet and then I see this thread biggrin.gif

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post #11 of 21 Old 02-26-2014, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Nice thread! Funny I was driving today thinking for about a half hour how I plan to cool my dedicated theater av closet and then I see this thread biggrin.gif

I have three words for you.

Hot Aisle Containment

Now I want your next thread to be how to create a hot aisle containment cooling system in your closet for dirt cheap. Ready set go! biggrin.gif


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post #12 of 21 Old 02-26-2014, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bakerja View Post

Your approach sounds like a winner. You might bring the temps down a few more degrees with an inline fan to help the circulation. Home Depot has one for about $30.

My solution is pretty much an inline fan. My HVAC unit is running the fan 24/7 in either low speed to recirculate or high speed when actively heating or cooling. It is always sucking out the hot air from the top of the closet and pulling in room temperature air from door cracks and the Eave vent. When the AC or furnace kick in then the fan goes into high speed and pulls even more air. Adding an actual inline fan wouldn't really help in my situation, it would be like adding a fan blowing into your air return vent.
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post #13 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techmattr View Post

I have three words for you.

Hot Aisle Containment

Now I want your next thread to be how to create a hot aisle containment cooling system in your closet for dirt cheap. Ready set go! biggrin.gif

Challenge accepted biggrin.gif

I have a meeting tomorrow night with my neighbor to see about purchasing 20 feet on our property line so I can make my theater and home remodel project bigger. This should allow me a dedicated av closet for my theater that is not inside the theater room. I also have the problem of twins coming very soon and a small bank account tongue.gif

But I'm determined to get this project going smile.gif

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post #14 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Challenge accepted biggrin.gif

I have a meeting tomorrow night with my neighbor to see about purchasing 20 feet on our property line so I can make my theater and home remodel project bigger. This should allow me a dedicated av closet for my theater that is not inside the theater room. I also have the problem of twins coming very soon and a small bank account tongue.gif

But I'm determined to get this project going smile.gif

Good luck. I couldn't imagine having twins. I have two, but we had 3 years between them to recover. The good thing is you won't have as long to deal with diapers. I was continuously buying them for over six years and now have switched to pee pads for puppies. Got one puppy finally trained to go outside and then added a new one. I've been dealing with crap for eight years straight. eek.gif

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post #15 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 09:46 AM
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Good luck. I couldn't imagine having twins. I have two, but we had 3 years between them to recover. The good thing is you won't have as long to deal with diapers. I was continuously buying them for over six years and now have switched to pee pads for puppies. Got one puppy finally trained to go outside and then added a new one. I've been dealing with crap for eight years straight. eek.gif

I did the puppy thing first. I tried pee pads. But for some reason Allie (my dog) liked my bedroom carpet more. I have hardwood throughout on the bottom floor (except for the bedroom because I wanted it to sound good for 7.1 when I was single and hardwood sounds terrible) and she just got in the habit of peeing on the carpet right in the entrance. I assume because it absorbs and is the most grass like ??? IDK ?? Anyways I suffered through that housetraining pains and as soon as she was house trained I ripped up the carpet (and refinished the hard wood underneath)

So my bedroom floor is nicer, the room sounds crappier, and my dog pees outside. tongue.gif When I was single I originally built a small theater which I ended up falling asleep in often so I decided to just make it a bedroom. It made sense when I was single. Since I did all the effort to snake the wires into all the walls, under the floor, build the AV closet, hang the projector, install the drop down screen - I never bothered to move it since wifey entered the picture in 2009. I did a pretty good job making it stealth so she does not mind, when the screen is up you see basically nothing but some elegant speakers mounted neatly. I did remove one of the subwoofers though wink.gif Long story short I need a dedicated theater ASAP !!!

As for the Twins this is our first (and second eek.gif ) so we really do not know any better. Might as well just jump in. If you are going to do something... might as well do it. biggrin.gif Pregnancy was not so much a surprise as they were planned, but I will admit I was rather shocked when the doctor told us Twins! Seems like twins truely are double trouble. Double cribs. Double strollers, Double car seats, double breast feeding, double the diapers... etc...

One boy and one girl expected MAY 2014 biggrin.gif

Hopefully when we suffer through the initial 3 months of pure crazy things can straighten out a bit and I can begin the construction on theater at end of summer. Since we are not sure about wifey working, budget is also a major issue I will need to overcome. I am very determined though. My theater is going to be (hopefully) 32 feet long by 24 feet wide. (above oversized garage) with 12 foot ceiling in the center and 10 feet on the edge (minus a little on the outside for sofit) I want 3 rows of seating. 4 chairs half arc in first row. A couch (so I can sleep or lay down lazy style) dead center second row flanked by two chairs. Third row will be cheap folding seats like commercial movie theater. (for volume or entertainment) Going to have a bar in the back which is why I want the full 32 feet long. I think I have read every theater build thread on AVS in the last 5 years so I am for sure ready to give it my own try! I'll probably do some version of the SEOS 12 + 12" for LCR speakers and perhaps something a tad smaller for the rears and heights and wides. (yes I will wire for 11.2). I will probably start with an ultra bright normal projector (think Epson or Optoma) for a few thousand to save some cash, but someday I will plan to upgrade to a real projector when I can afford it. Also replace my Denon AVR with AMPS and some of the higher end stuff to control sound better. I want to tune the room, and get the sound treatments right. My goal over the next 18 months is simply to get accomplished the "shell" of the room. The dimensions I want, the size, the height. Also to get the room built without comprimise from a construction standpoint. (Double walls for sound insulation and low noise floor, double DryWall and Green Glue, double sub floor with rubber mat between, and ceiling on clips for decoupling with double layers of DW. I know this is a hobby I will chase for years, it will never be a "done" project so I want to make sure I get the basics down right so I can keep going and going without needing to tear down and start all over. Not a project I expect completed anytime soon, but hopefully I can get it started soon. I plan to do it as cheap as possible and do most of the work myself. I'd love to hire a pro but I just simply can not afford it. Hopefully the 5 years and thousands of posts of learning I have under my belt has prepared me. I guess we shall see.

I was deadly honest when I posted earlier. I was driving to a client about 1.5 hours away yesterday and thinking about my design on the drive. Most of my thinking was centered around the AV closet and what will I do to move the hot air out of it, and still keep the noise from polluting my theater and noise floor. I plan to put my server and my Desktop and my HTPC all in this closet as well. I was thinking of some fancy fan controllers and PC fans with insulated exhaust tubes. I was also thinking about a digital thermometer like this :


Or something to that effect built right into the front of the AV closet so I can monitor it. And I would like for the fans to remain "off" or very low unless the temp hits a certain point, (think PC fan controller) I imagine it won't be much different than a HTPC set up except I am doing a closet and not a case. I would like to tie it into my HTPC with onscreen, and perhaps even a monitor or something that displays it. I'll have to give the whole thing more thought when I hit that place... but it was just funny to me I spent an hour thinking about this in the car and then I see this awesome thread. Well done and great Job!

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post #16 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 10:27 AM
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If someone who was not familiar with the topics we talk about on this forum jumped onto AVS and saw this...

 

 

...they'd probably think we where talking about locking peeing puppies in closets to cool off servers.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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post #17 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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If someone who was not familiar with the topics we talk about on this forum jumped onto AVS and saw this...




...they'd probably think we where talking about locking peeing puppies in closets to cool off servers.






Puppy urine would be too warm to cool down the closet.

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post #18 of 21 Old 02-27-2014, 12:59 PM
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Puppy urine would be too warm to cool down the closet.

This is true.

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post #19 of 21 Old 02-28-2014, 06:52 AM
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Interesting discussion. I was trying to do something similar a while back.
I have a server, multiple actually, in my home office which is a spare bedroom.
My main issue was noise from one of the servers.
I tried the closet for a while. Closed the door when I was in the room, left it open other times, but the heat was getting too high for my comfort.
I had some discussions with a guy from Active Thermal. They have some products you can use, but you still have to install it all.
Certainly cheaper to go entirely DIY, get your own fans and tubing.
I ended up getting a noise isolation unit from XRackPro. Pretty expensive new, but I found one for cheap used. Works well, but bulky.
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post #20 of 21 Old 03-01-2014, 06:07 AM
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I bet a cheap PVC pipe or Hvac tube with a single fan is all you need for cooling.

My trouble is how to keep noise out my theater because I want the rack mounted flush into my side wall, but I want sound isolation and low noise floor. I love seeing the equipment inside the theater look. But cutting holes in your walls messes up your sound proofing. Much harder to cut holes and install fans for cooling when you are also chasing sound proofing.

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post #21 of 21 Old 03-03-2014, 07:51 PM
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I bought a portable AC unit and vent it through the attic. I have it on a shelf I built close to the ceiling. This way I set the thermostat, close the doors and forget about it.

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