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Temperature in Attic.

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Temperature in Attic.

Every year I get concerned about the temperature in my attic where my servers are. This year I am even more concerned as I now also have an APC 3Kva UPS up there. I am sure you are all aware of the high temperatures that can exist in an attic and the extreme changes between day and night. This is not really a fit place to be running servers! I have thought long and hard and there is absolutely nowhere else to put them in the house due to noise and space. I am now hunting for (very low cost) ideas. The best I can come up with is to build or buy some sort of enclosure that would go around everything up there. This would have to be easily opened to gain access to the servers. I could then cut a hole in either end and use some sort of fan and ducting kit maybe like that you would find in a bathroom. I could continously draw air through this through the ceiling from a room directly below. This in theory should keep everything warmer in winter and cooler in summer. What do you think? Any ideas? I have attached a picture of the servers and UPS to show the problem.
22 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

I just had a fantastic idea and thought that a 1000 base kitchen cabinet would have been ideal. I could have fitted foam seals to the doors. I then went and measured and found that my UPS is about 630mm deep which is about 40mm deeper than the standard 590mm deep cabinet!!! It would have been perfect, cheap and simple from B&Q!
Not applicable

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Sounds like a reasonably logical plan, and it'd probably be a bit less dusty too.
One worry is that by enclosing the whole lot, you could have problems with much more rapid heat build up if a fan fails for whatever reason.
So long as you can build in some sort of redundancy (multiple fans n+1 is ideal, where n is the number you need to move the volume of air you need to move - remember to power them via your UPS too) and/or resiliance (eg temp monitoring to shut stuff down quickly if it gets too warm - remember how quickly the heat can build up in an enclosed space, so set the thresholds lower than in a vented room on the basis that the temp will still be rising whilst the machines shut down.)
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Why not use a fridge!! both air conditioned and sound proof.
(Chilly, Ignores the practicality and cost of getting a fridge into the roof. )
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,765
Thanks: 1,603
Fixes: 19
Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

I was going to suggest a chest freezer.... Cheesy  but then thought of the same thing as chilly !  OOOoops...
However.... You could work out a system whereby...you have a cabinet (suitably vented) for the servers, with a connecting duct,  with fan unit, inside a 12volt car cooler cabinet  (cut a hole in the lid of the cooler cabinet, to attach the duct to....  (thing used to keep your beer in for picnics/beach parties) .... Not too big, and probably just enough cool air to reduce the temp of the server cabinet....
Make the server cabinet two or three times the size of servers cubic area , out of Plywood, MDF, and insulate with polystyrene sheets, (various thicknesses available up to about 4 inches, in 8 x 4 sheets) (easy to cut with a serated edge bread knife)
have a small gap at the bottom end s for through flow of air, and your imagination should be able to do the rest....
by making the cabinet 2 or 3 times the size required, will allow more cool air around the servers, and also give room to add another server if needed !
Have fun...  Smiley Wink
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Nah car cooler cabinet in simple language are a transister on a metal plate, they dont shift a lot of heat, nowhere near as much as is being generated,  A real clever engineer could take the heat exchanger from a fridge and build that into the cabinet in the loft.  a lot of work
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,765
Thanks: 1,603
Fixes: 19
Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Ok Pierre, will accede to your superior knowledge,  how about a 12volt/240volt fridge as used in caravans, (and boats including narrowboats).... Could possibly make arrangements with the local caravan dealer, or local scrap yard, to acquire a working model.  Wink Smiley
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

with that many servers and UPS you have probably got a 1 kw heater at least, I dont think a simple fridge will cope with 30 - 40 Deg ambient  (HNC in Heat engineering 40 odd years ago)
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,978
Thanks: 265
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

In the average attic, you have all sorts of water tanks.
Have you considered a closed loop water-cooled pipe arrangement with a simple heat exchanger in the cold water tank and similar in a box containing the servers?
This would have the added benefit of providing protection against freezing in winter.
Alternatively, if you have some really green servers you could use a heat-pump arrangement connected into your hot-water tank (there is such a thing as a free bath!).

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,576
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Registered: 13-04-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

As I see it the problem is heat rises so no matter what you do you are moving hot air around. If you take the air from the room below it will still be hot as the heat is rising. The air in the loft could be 10 degrees higher than the rest of the house.
To do any good you need to supply cold air by refrigeration or from the outside. Maybe some sort  of water cooling maybe using a car radiator and fan
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Quote from: pierre_pierre
with that many servers and UPS you have probably got a 1 kw heater at least, I dont think a simple fridge will cope with 30 - 40 Deg ambient  (HNC in Heat engineering 40 odd years ago)
My 2 servers, UPS, 2 access points, 2 switches, router and cordless phone base unit draw 240 Watts as continously measured by the power meter as pictured (Main computer and laptop also running when photo was taken which is why the meter reads 496 Watts). Based on my A-Level Physics days I would say that the UPS and servers probably output about a tenth the heat of a 1Kw fan heater. If they did output the same as a fan heater I would be using them to heat the house and be struggling to pay my electric bill! LoL.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
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Registered: 02-02-2008

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Er no, I think you're physics memory is failing you.
240 watts is 240 watts and 24% of a kilowatt (not 10%).
It all ends up as heat; where else do you think it goes?  Shocked
(well OK a little escapes as radiation from your wireless transmitters but I think that's milliwatts)
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

240Watts for everything I listed. Not all of which is in the attic. The servers and UPS draw about 190Watts alone. OK, taking sound, light, radiation and the chemical energy produced in the batteries of the UPS I will up my original estimate to around 160Watts heat output in the attic. That is still only 16% of that of a 1Kw heater though. I did say "about" a tenth. LoL.
Denzil
Grafter
Posts: 1,733
Registered: 31-07-2007

Re: Temperature in Attic.

Any kind of fridge probably won't last long under those conditions. Fridges and freezers are designed to keep passive objects cold. If you put something in that is continuously generating heat the compressor will be running way over its design duty cycle, and will fail relatively quickly. If the compressor fails you then have all your heat generating gear enclosed in a nicely insulated box, and it is all going to get very hot very quickly!
From the piccy it looks like there isn't much insulation under the board, which could be a good thing in this case. You could fit insulation under the tiles, held in place with hardboard or builders plastic. You need to leave some ventilation, but the loft space would then be thermally closer to the rest of the house, and more stable.
Failing that, just stick with an extractor fan or two.