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Data Closet Cooling

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm remodeling my house slowly (meaning one room at a time) and I'm adding new TV and data drops as I go. I retrofitted a linen closet into a data closet which has worked well for the most part. The data closet is open at the top and bottom for natural ventilation which works fine if all you're using is a router, switch, and cable patching, but I've recently added a HDHomeRun network tuner and a Drobo NAS appliance into the closet which is raising the ambient temperature to around 85-90 fahrenheit.

I'm toying with different options for better cooling inside the closet, from tapping off the A/C trunk above for running cold air into the closet (but would have to be closed off when the furnace is running) to using fans at the top of the closet to pull warm air out. Fan noise could be a problem since the data closet is located right outside a bedroom. A mesh or screen-type door could also work, but I'm not sure of the aesthetics.

In the pic below you can see my current setup. The shelves are loose on on either side to still allow airflow, and the door was removed last night to aid with cooling. So what are your thoughts on how best to ventilate this? Thanx in advance!

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
No suggestions? I decided to place a variable-speed fan in the upper grill area and test how well it cools the space. If it's good enough I will add a filter to the intake at the bottom. Later I might add temperature controls to power the fan only when needed.
post #3 of 11
I think your approach is on the right track - push hot air out at the top and draw in cooler air through a lower grill.

A few thoughts:

- Put the components that generate the most heat at the top of the "stack" - place in descending order of thermal output as you move lower.
- The solid shelves you're using don't allow a good flow of cooling air across the components - either for each specific piece of equipment or for units above it.
- See if a component has any cooling fins or grills for getting rid of internal heat; if it does, you need to make sure that the air you're drawing upwards through the closet gets routed past this area - just because cooler air is passing in front of a shelf doesn't mean that you're removing the heat - hot air will "puddle" around a unit if it can't easily dissipate. If there are no fins or grills you'll also need to ensure that the incoming cooler air is forced to pass over/around the box.

Although I'm not familiar with all the equipment you have, none of it would seem to be a real "furnace" (with the exception of the NAS?), so I don't think you need to go overboard with a cooling solution. If you get the design right, you could almost get away with a passive cooling system (i.e. just relying on the fact that hot air rises). Having a thermostatically controlled fan would appear to be a good idea (especially in Arizona!) and, given the adjacent bedroom, having a large fan dialed in to move slowly will typically be less noisy than a small, high rpm alternative.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. The added fan so far has dropped the temperature only 2-5 degrees, but I still need to close off the grill on each side of the fan. Every bit helps!

I did rely on passive cooling for the first couple of years, but the addition of the NAS has ramped up the heat, and the last thing I want is to burn it out. Nothing installed as cooling fins per say, but most everything has ventilation holes. I see what you mean about the solid shelves too. I was using what was handy, but I definitely need a better solution.

Below is the fan I'm using.....cheap-n-easy. It's on "low" and still moves a lot of air. It's not whisper quiet, but it's more of a "white noise" so it doesn't bother me.

post #5 of 11
I'm not sure if this will help you, but I had good luck cooling my data closet simply by using low voltage computer fans, which are cheap, pretty efficient and relatively quiet. There's even a website or two that specializes in selling computer fans that are super quiet, if that's one of your concerns. Watch out, though, usually quiet comes at the expense of rpms.

The way I did it was I had several dead power supplies lying around, gutted everything but the fans (or maybe I installed new ones), and then tapped the wiring harness to the computer that was in there. I also used free-standing computer box fans, again tapping the wiring harness of the computer. The wiring wasn't necessarily pretty, and watch your fingers on the free-standing fans, but it did lower the temperature of the closet significantly.

Place the fans in such a way so that the flow is across or through your components always in one direction from intake to exhaust.
post #6 of 11
Yup, you have to make sure that you're actually pulling air over the component, not just vaguely near to it. You could have a roaring gale from the bottom grill, all the way up to the top-mounted fan, but unless you are actually drawing air across the unit, it would have nominal added benefit. One way to check this is to place a small scrap of tissue paper on the device, shut the door & turn on the fan - if it's still there when you recheck it, your design is flawed! Having said that, getting rid of accumulating heat from the top of the closet is a good idea, but it's not giving you the targeted cooling that you're after.
post #7 of 11
When I wired my home, I put everything in the attic. Kind of sorry now because it gets awfully hot up there. ( Modem, Switch, Router, Vonage Box, Dish Box ) Bottom line is I don't have any issues with it. If I ever got a NAS, I probably would locate it downstairs.
post #8 of 11
First read this white paper: http://middleatlantic.com/pdf/ThermalManagement.pdf

It has a lot of good information on heat flow and cooing.

Then check out this site for some products to help: http://www.coolcomponents.com/

It really isn't practical to run a HVAC line to the closet unless you are always running your AC (no heat in the winter) or if you can run a completely separate sub-system. Best thing to do is suck air from the top and return to your HVAC return line. Look at the VS-CVS. Also, if you call Cool Components, they are a huge help over the phone.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK....no pics yet, but I replaced the solid shelves with wire closet-type shelving and I semi-permanently installed the fan and added a filter for the intake near the bottom. My temperatures now hover around 80 degrees inside.

Thanx for your guidance! smile.gif
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Here's my final cooling solution...

A Cabcool1202 Deluxe cooling unit and new wire shelving to hold everything while still allowing air flow. This thing is whisper quiet! The thermostat is adjusted so the fans come on at 85 degrees and shut off at 80. Air is drawn in at the bottom of the door thru a filter to keep dust/dirt/hair out.

post #11 of 11
You have done well grasshopper biggrin.gif
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