Help my server remain IN the closet.
June 28, 2010 1:15 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way to keep a locked server closet adequately cooled?

I keep our home server locked in a hallway closet. It constantly records our security cameras, serves media to home entertainment devices throughout the house, and stores our most important files. The closet is very small - roughly 4' wide x 8' tall x 2' deep.

In addition, all of the networking equipment (switches, modem, PoE hubs, etc.) is in there, along with one large battery backup.

Lately, I've had to leave the door cracked open because at one point when I checked on everything (due to REALLY loud fan noise), it felt like I could fry on egg on top of the server.

I'm considering cutting a hole in the ceiling of the closet to provide an escape route for the hot air that builds up. It's a one story house, so immediately above the closet is about 4-5' of open attic space. If I cut a hole leading into the attic, will this sufficiently cool the closet, or am I doing this all wrong?

I know hot air rises, but will the intense summer heat of the attic have any effect on the closet? Do I need to install an exhaust tube THROUGH the attic, to exhaust the hot closet air out of the roof? Perhaps I could tap into the nearby bathroom exhaust line?

So many questions, I know!
posted by siclik to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you install an exhaust fan in the ceiling of the closet, it should be sufficient if the attic itself is vented.
posted by goblinbox at 1:23 PM on June 28, 2010

You could, in theory, trim some of the top and bottom of the door off, so convection causes the heat to escape from the top. In the process, cool air would come in from the bottom. No idea how effective this would be in your particular situation, and this would send the heat into the house.

For the ceiling, installing a fan in the ceiling that forced air into the attic would probably take care of any issues with that, unless there's a draft in the attic causing positive pressure (say, a crack facing the direction of the wind that allows air in, with no escape path out).
posted by Rendus at 1:26 PM on June 28, 2010

Response by poster: I purchased this guy for our bathroom in December and it's worked great - almost completely silent. I'm just not sure if exhaust fans, such as this, are rated for constant use.

I did the install myself, so I'm familiar with how to do it, but I just wasn't sure if that much effort was required for something like this, too.

In regards to the attic, there are soffets on the sides of the house, and large gable vents on both the front/back of the attic.
posted by siclik at 1:43 PM on June 28, 2010

I like the bathroom vent fan ideas here, with a few additions. You might want to switch the fan with a thermostat, you'll need a 120vac model instead on the standard low voltage units used in most homes. I doubt most bathroom vent fans were designed for 24/7 use.

Tapping into the bathroom fan vent isn't a great idea, you'll end up blowing hot air into the bathroom as well as outside, or blowing hot moist air from the bath into your server room (ugh!)

Most importantly, if you go with an exhaust fan, you will also need to add a vent somewhere to allow cool air into the room. Putting an exhaust fan on a sealed room won't do anything.
posted by Marky at 2:36 PM on June 28, 2010

Response by poster: What if I cut a 1' x 1' hole in the closet ceiling (covered with wire mesh to keep potential pests out) and used a fan like this, on the top shelf, aimed at the hole in the ceiling?

At a low speed, the fan would hopefully run for a long time, especially when used in conjunction with a plug-in thermostat.

There is about a 1" gap at the bottom of the door, so I'm hoping that will be adequate air intake.
posted by siclik at 2:58 PM on June 28, 2010

I'm not sure a 1" gap at the top would do much good, since the fan would also be at the top you may just be pulling air from you house to the attic, skipping the closet. I would try to seal the top somehow and have the bottom of the door shortened. Can't comment on how well the rest of the idea would work though (but i have had a fan very similar to that for about 8 years now, so even at constant use it could last get quite a while).
posted by DJWeezy at 3:09 PM on June 28, 2010

You would want to use something that's more like a bathroom fan because you want to stop air from flowing from the attic into the house; in some cases just a plain hole in the ceiling would cause undesirable effects like moisture or hot/cold air from re-entering your home. Bathroom fans have a flapper that keeps most of the air from flowing backwards, usually both on the outside of the house and on the inside at the fan itself.
posted by SpecialK at 3:12 PM on June 28, 2010

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