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Thread: Server Case

  1. #1
    Fresh Paint
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    Question Server Case

    Hi folks

    I have an IBM x3550 and a 2 Desktops that i run in the attic at home. Unfortunately its pretty cold up there during the winter, and very hot during the summer! I don't have the option of properly converting the space and installing air-con at this time so my idea was to build an enclosure that could hold this hardware, and create a controllable environment all year round.

    I have a few ideas in my mind at the moment (i will get round to some drawings to put up here) but just wanted to get some thoughts from you guys.

    Given the enormous size of the x3550 and its weight, the best option is to create a custom server rack really, but its got to also house two half size desktops and some network gear such as a switch.

    I guess the area i need most help is with creating a case that can keep out any moisture during the winter, keep warm enough and then obviously cool during the summer. My ambient room temp at the moment during the night is around 8-10c and really needs to be kept at around 16-18c. Im not sure about the summer but i could make an educated guess its around 27-30c on the hot days. My only idea at the moment would be to use an extractor fan and run a tube from the enclosure into the suffix of the roof like we do for the bathroom extractor fan.

    All thoughts appreciated and let me know if you want some more detail in any areas!

  2. #2
    Moderator TLHarrell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Server Case

    Obviously, the cold in the winter can solve itself.

    I would consider building an enclosure up in the attic space with good insulation. If you can draw some AC from one of the ducts inside the house, go for it. If not, see if there's a way you can duct a vent for the heat to the outside.

    Is this a house you own, rent, or apartment? And can you do any construction work in it?
    I have a hammer! I can put things together! I can knock things apart! I can alter my environment at will and make an incredible din all the while! -Calvin

  3. #3
    Fresh Paint
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    Default Re: Server Case

    You think the heat from the servers and equipment should keep it warm enough if we hit -20? Not sure we will get that here but i have seen weather reports this week that say we will somewhere in the UK this winter.

    AC isnt very common in the UK so we dont have it, and its very expensive to run. I think something like this maybe that could draw the heat out but im not sure if that would be enough in the summer, would i need to feed it cold air as well or is simply sucking the hot air out enough?



    Obviously rather than it feeding into the ceiling of the bathroom that would fix directly to the rear of the case.

  4. #4
    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Server Case

    You have to be careful about pulling air out of the attic. Done wrong it can cause damage to the wood sheathing on the roof due to improper airflow causing moisture to accumulate in the wrong places. (I have direct experience with this and a new roof for my troubles)

    I wouldn't worry much about winter temps except for condensation, That is probably your only worry. I used to run a couple of servers in my shed and it would get below freezing for a week or so with no issues. The airflow through the server chassis will for the most part prevent condensation from forming.

    In the summer you may have to isolate the servers from the attic atmosphere and draw air from the house through the enclosure and then outside like your picture shows. Assuming you keep the air flowing, the temps should not get too bad. Some insulation around the enclosure may help keep the temps down.

    Hell a reversible fan would use the heat from the systems in the winter to help heat your house (what I did with my old SGI Onyx) and in the summer it would keep a nice airflow going.

    Building an enclosure out of 2x4's and plywood is my recommendation. Cheap, workable and tough. Plus plywood has some insulating properties. I built a rackmount enclosure this way many years ago before I got my current workstation desk.
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

  5. #5
    Fresh Paint
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    Default Re: Server Case

    Thanks Airbozo!

    Could you expand a little on the airflow increasing moisture? Sounds like something i definitely want to avoid!

    Thats good to hear, i was thinking getting a de-humidifier to go in the attic to help with the moisture issues in the winter, or even when i have the case using the silicon gel packs you get in packaging to draw out the moisture.

    OK, so maybe actually run two fans for the summer? One drawing air in and one sending it back out?

    Think the next step is to get some sketches done : )

  6. #6
    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Server Case

    In general, roofs are built to not be air tight. Depending on the roof, there are vents on the eaves and up high. This keeps the air flowing to prevent moisture buildup due to the difference in temperatures between the attic and the living space.

    This site has some examples:
    http://dspinspections.com/atticventing.htm

    This is how I built my roof:


    I probably would not use a dehumidifier in the attic space itself, but if necessary only dehumidify the air around the server.
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

  7. #7
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: Server Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Airbozo View Post
    I probably would not use a dehumidifier in the attic space itself, but if necessary only dehumidify the air around the server.
    I'd be careful of this also though.. too low humidity = potential static troubles.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

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