Our new TV stand has terrible airflow! Help!
July 27, 2014 8:39 PM   Subscribe

We just got a new TV stand that has doors in the front, and a back that's nearly solid except for several small cutouts for wires. We have a TiVo and a receiver in there, and they're ridiculously hot after just a few hours of being on. How can I improve airflow so I don't burn out my components?

This is the stand. In the picture you can see that there are a few cutouts in the back. We have wires running through these to the back, so they're already occupied a bit.

I'd rather not drill into the back or ruin the stand unless absolutely necessary. And keeping the doors ajar while we watch TV sort of kills the point. I was thinking of trying to buy a small fan (like a 120mm computer case fan) and prop it up against the cutout, but that would be sort of precarious and inefficient.

Anyone have any ideas? Have you had this issue and found a decent way of solving it?
posted by gchucky to Technology (8 answers total)
If the glass in the front is removable, replace with speaker fabric?

Return the glass to previous position when it goes to its next home.

As for fans, something a tad larger, but turned to draw heat from the unit and force it out the wire holes.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:47 PM on July 27, 2014

The only solution we've ever had actually work that didn't involve removing the glass doors was more holes in either the back or sides. If you have plenty of room for air movement with a fan, you might have better luck, but an inch or two clearance didn't seem to work for us - the numerous electronics just generated too much heat for the fans to keep up.

This is why I don't buy any that are completely closed like that anymore; they're just too much hassle.
posted by stormyteal at 9:03 PM on July 27, 2014

1) Get a hole saw and make swiss cheese out of the bottom of the cabinet. This is a cabinet designed to house electronic equipment, and such equipment generates heat. These modifications won't "ruin" it; the fact that the thing came with inadequate ventilation is a major, if all too common, design flaw that you're going to remedy. The more ventilation you're comfortable putting in, the better. Do the same to the shelves. This will create a way for fresh, cool air to enter the cabinet and (just as importantly) be directed into the components instead of just flowing behind and around them.

2) Get two big quiet 4" computer case fans (larger fans are quieter because they move more slowly) and attach them to the cutouts in each side of the upper back of the cabinet. This will be where the cabinet exhausts hot air (obviously you'll need to keep it pulled a couple inches out from the wall so this air has somewhere to go.) Try to seal up any openings around or immediately adjacent to the fans, because leaving such openings will result in air simply circulating into the cabinet and right back out again instead of being drawn from the more distant bottom openings and through the equipment.
posted by contraption at 9:08 PM on July 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Your receiver may have a switched power outlet that you can plug the fans into, so they'll run whenever the receiver is on. If not (or if things are toasty even with the receiver in standby) you could try a thermostat-equipped fan controller like this.
posted by contraption at 9:24 PM on July 27, 2014

In our previous TV unit stand thing (which came with glass-fronted cupboards and a single cutout in the back of each cupboard), we carefully removed the entire back of each cupboard (and kept them so we could re-attach and sell the unit later). Obviously only works if the backs are removable and not important to the structural integrity of the unit!
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 9:27 PM on July 27, 2014

A fan can help a little, but you need to have proper ventilation regardless. I agree with the above that drilling more holes in the thing will not "ruin" it. Put some holes in the bottom -- they don't have to be large -- an inch or so is fine -- as long as they are numerous -- and in the side. Having both bottom and back holes is important; most electronics take advantage of the natural rising properties of heat and suck in some (theoretically) cold air from the bottom to exhaust out the back and/or top.

Also, if you haven't, make sure that both your tivo and your receiver have lots of separation between them. Since it looks like you have two physically separate compartments, put one in each, if you haven't already. If you can't or don't want to, I'd definitely put the receiver on the bottom, and the TiVo on top. The receiver is probably going to put out a lot more heat, and this way it will have first dibs at the fresh air coming in.

Powered fans are another possibility, yes, but not something I've ever had to implement.
posted by jammer at 6:46 AM on July 28, 2014

According to the little cabinet/stand in the meeting room next to my office, they sell mounts specifically for this. I googled, and found this, which doesn't quite look like the one we have, but...yeah. I don't think a well-installed ventilation fan will ruin a stand/cabinet.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2014

Response by poster: Just to close the loop on this, we ended up ordering two fans similar to this one and using a Dremel to cut out squares in the back of the cabinet. So far so good...
posted by gchucky at 7:23 AM on January 4, 2015

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