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Creative cooling - DIY water cooling of sorts RRS feed

  • Question

  • Has anyone tried a creative way of cooling their WHS, for instance, putting it in an old fridge hidden in the attic?

    I've recently moved my WHS into the attic since, according to my wife, it was sounding like a miniature jet engine in the study. The five 120mm fans needed to keep its 9 drives cool may have had something to do with this...

    While the attic is probably the best place for it - one of my gigabit routers which connects the kids' rooms and the sitting room media center is also in the attic - I'm now faced with an interesting environmental challenge: the attic is generally cooler than inside the house (good), it's dusty (bad) and humidity varies wildly (bad). However, in winter, it may get too cold (freezing) and in summer too hot (although, since we live in the UK, that's unlikely to last more than a couple of days!) The first solution which springs to mind is to create some kind of enclosure which would address the dust and humidity, but create a huge heat problem.

    I've thought of the following possibillities:


    1) Put the WHS in an old Fridge!

    This has the clear advantage of being easily accessible but sealed and has built-in cooling. The humidity could be brought down to less than 30% using a silica gel dehumifier and there would be no dust. Assuming the WHS uses 350W of electricity, the heat resulting from this would have to be extracted by the fridge so it would probably end up running continously, raising questions of durability, epecially for an older fridge. I'd also have to add in the electricity costs of the fridge.


    2) Build a water-cooled enclosure

    Similar to the fridge, this would create a sealed environment for the WHS where dust and humidity is not an issue but would require some way of transporting heat from the enclosure to the surrounding. One way could be to use two radiators and a circulation pump, one inside the enclosure and one outside. Perhaps an old car oil cooler or used radiator from a small car together with an aquarium or pond pump.

    To enhance cooling efficiency, an evaporative cooling system could be built for the outside side, although this could raise humidity issues in the attic space or require venting outdoors. An alternative solution could be to place a copper cooling spiral in the domestic water tank (!) and use the water in it as a heat sink.

    The 350W or so generated by the WHS is unlikely to raise the temperature by much (say it's approx 1.5m3 or 1,500 litres, 350W would increase the temperature by (since 1W is 1J/second, the specific heat capacity of water is about 4181.3 J/Kgm°C, and water weighs 1kg/litre, 350w will raise the temperature of one Kg of water by 350/4181.3 = 0.08371 degree C per second for one Kg (litre) of water or 301.34 degrees C per hour. with 1,500 litres we will end up with a very small temperature increase per hour (about 4.8 degrees C in 24 hrs) for the whole tank, not taking into account losses of heat through radiation through the tank walls and through replenishing of the water in the tank from use.)

    Sunday, May 17, 2009 10:57 AM

Answers

  • Have you considered building an insulated enclosure (plywood or sheet metal) for the server that is ducted through the ceiling to the living space?  A simple fan, not requiring the energy consumption of a dedicated compressor, could circulate cooled or heated air from below through vents installed in inconspicuous locations (closet ceiling, utility room, etc.).  By building this insulated enclosure and ducting it to the living space with fan-forced air circulation, you would essentially be providing the same enviroment as in the living space.  Using the cooling and heating capacity already installed for inhabitant comfort saves a lot of problems and complications.

    I haven't ever had occasion to try this, but it comes to mind as a possible solution to your need.

    John Shelton
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 4:03 PM
  • My thoughts on the duct fan would be to install a 120 volt (or 240 volt, depending on your grid voltage) inline in the ductwork.  Fans are widely available that just fit inline with various diameters of ductwork.  (They install just like installing a section of round "stovepipe" duct.  This "enclosure fan" would be in addition to whatever computer case fans might be necessary.  You would want a separate inlet and return ducts in relatively different areas for this to work well.  Otherwise, you would just be heating a closet with computer generated heat.
    John Shelton
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 6:14 PM

All replies

  • Have you considered building an insulated enclosure (plywood or sheet metal) for the server that is ducted through the ceiling to the living space?  A simple fan, not requiring the energy consumption of a dedicated compressor, could circulate cooled or heated air from below through vents installed in inconspicuous locations (closet ceiling, utility room, etc.).  By building this insulated enclosure and ducting it to the living space with fan-forced air circulation, you would essentially be providing the same enviroment as in the living space.  Using the cooling and heating capacity already installed for inhabitant comfort saves a lot of problems and complications.

    I haven't ever had occasion to try this, but it comes to mind as a possible solution to your need.

    John Shelton
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 4:03 PM
  • That is an interesting idea - I'm pretty sure it could work since I've got our kitchen computer fitted inside a kitchen cupboard with a single 120mm fan extracting (hot) air from the cupboard; that computer stays comfortably within normal operating temperature (although it's no powerhouse - a WHS would probably need two 120mm fans). The cupboard does not have dedicated air intake, but I calculated the surface area of the gap between door and frame to be roughly (about 85%) of the surface area of the 120mm fan.

    To minimise fan noise, it would probably be best to have the fans draw cold air into the enclosure.
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 5:52 PM
  • My thoughts on the duct fan would be to install a 120 volt (or 240 volt, depending on your grid voltage) inline in the ductwork.  Fans are widely available that just fit inline with various diameters of ductwork.  (They install just like installing a section of round "stovepipe" duct.  This "enclosure fan" would be in addition to whatever computer case fans might be necessary.  You would want a separate inlet and return ducts in relatively different areas for this to work well.  Otherwise, you would just be heating a closet with computer generated heat.
    John Shelton
    Sunday, May 17, 2009 6:14 PM