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Just about anyone who works with technology knows that it is important to manage the heat that is generated by servers, routers, switches, and other equipment. Large companies will either build their own data center, or outsource to a third-party data center solution, so that all their equipment is one large area. That area’s temperature and humidity is then managed using powerful cooling technology that is specifically designed to be able to remove heat from an area as efficiently as possible.

Most small businesses, however, do not have enough technical equipment to warrant building out a large data center, or the budget to partner with an expensive data center as-a-service company. In these situations, the few pieces of technical equipment that are needed are kept in a closet or other small server room where the noise and heat they make will not cause a disturbance. When this is done, it is important to make sure that the room has sufficient airflow and cooling to prevent damaging heat from building up.

Traditional Air Conditioning Units

Rosewill AC
Rosewill that ends will

In many situations, the easiest and most efficient way to manage the temperature in a server room is with classic air conditioning. There are a number of options to consider if you want to go this route, each of which have their own pros and cons to take note of.

  • Incorporate Into Building Air Conditioning – Running ducting to the server closet and allowing your normal building AC to cool the room can be effective, especially if the equipment does not get to extreme temperatures on its own. This is a very simple option, but keep in mind that it will not function in the winter or other times when AC is not being used.

  • Use a Window Air Conditioner –  If the server closet has an external window, or one can be made, you can install a window air conditioning unit to keep the room cool. Just make sure to choose an AC unit that can function even in cold temperatures (even if only as a fan to blow the winter air in). Having a window unit in your server room, however, may be seen as insecure, however, as it would be an easy access point for someone to steal your expensive equipment.

  • Use a Mini-Split Unit – Mini-split units have part of the AC unit inside, and then a simple exhaust system outside to dissipate the heat. This can be a great option when a full window is not available. Mini-split units can be made to perform air conditioning even in very cold weather.

Installing traditional air conditioning to keep your server room cool is a great option that is very effective. In many cases, however, it is also going to be quite expensive and require a lot of work to complete so it is not the best solution in all cases.

We have lots of AC Units you can choose from

Focusing on the Delta Temperature and Airflow

HP Rack Server
Right Rack at ya

If air conditioning systems are not the right option for your server room, you can likely keep your equipment cool with nothing more than proper airflow. Different types of technical equipment can operate safely at different, but in all cases, you will not experience any damaging problems until the internal temperature of the equipment reaches well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

With this in mind, you can keep your computer equipment running at safe temperatures by simply moving room-temperature air over and through the equipment. This method of cooling uses what is known as the Delta temperature, which is simply the difference in temperature between the air being used for cooling, and the temperature of the equipment.

For example, if you keep your building at 70 degrees, and your hardware is running at 110 degrees, the delta temperature would be 40 degrees (110 minus 70). You can keep the equipment cool in this way as long as you use enough airflow.

Of course, it will take much more airflow to keep equipment cool when it is 70 degrees than it would using air-conditioned air that is 50 degrees, for example. Technically speaking, you could keep equipment at safe temperatures even if the surrounding area were 90+ degrees, as long as you have sufficient airflow.

TRIPP LITEly but carry a big fan

Fortunately, creating high levels of airflow is fairly easy and affordable. You can purchase cooling fans and create a ‘wind tunnel’ type environment that will direct all of the air over or through the equipment. The biggest challenge with using just this type of cooling is setting up the air intake system to bring in room-temperature air and the exhaust system to deal with the heated air.

Depending on how large your server room is, this can usually be done with relatively small vents near the bottom of the room to let air in (using a powerful fan, in most cases) and an exhaust vent near the top of the room to get rid of heated air. Just keep in mind, high powered fans can often generate a lot of noise, which is one of the downsides of this solution.

You can find fans that will automatically adjust their speeds based on the temperature of your computer equipment, which can be helpful.

We have Servers and Workstations as well as Server Accessories

Monitor the Environment Closely

No matter what type of cooling solution you choose to use for your server closet, you also want to make sure you have a temperature monitoring system in place as well. Having a temperature (and humidity) gauge in the server closet that can send you alerts when the temperature gets higher than a threshold of your choosing is critical. This will allow you to react quickly should something go wrong with your air conditioners, fans, or other cooling equipment.

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Michael Levanduski

Author Michael Levanduski

Michael Levanduski is a writer with over 20 years of experience working in the IT industry. He regularly writes for a variety of different publications, providing content on a wide range of different topics, including multiple different niches within the tech field. He lives in West Michigan with his family where he enjoys camping, hiking, and of course, writing.

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