An insane idea for temperature control

Discussion in 'DIY and Makers Spot' started by int0x2e, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. int0x2e

    int0x2e Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    30
    I already know my idea is crazy, but please tell me if it also makes any sense at all.

    My rack is currently in my office, but the noise is beyond what I (and the wife) can bear. I've been given permission to move it all to the garage, but since I'm located in a very sunny and hot part of the world, the garage is pretty hot in the summer (30C+ average, 40-45C peaks).
    My idea is to seal-off a part of my garage, add a small split AC system (sized to handle about 1.5X - 2.0X the rack's estimated heat load), and move my rack there.
    I want to set the AC to 28C-30C, to minimize costs while keeping the equipment reasonably happy, but I predict that the AC will have frequent stops and starts, which means the equipment will go through many temp cycles as well.
    It might be beneficial if I could add a lot of thermal mass to the server chamber, to smooth out these temp cycles. I also want to do it as cheaply as I can.

    And now to the insane bit - I'm thinking of filling up a lot of that space with large water containers (think 55-gallon drums).
    They're cheap and should have decent thermal mass (imagine multiple metric tons of water in that room).
    They're also very bad to have around all my equipment if they ever leak, or god frobid - burst.

    So - insane, right?
     
    #1
  2. MiniKnight

    MiniKnight Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Messages:
    2,958
    Likes Received:
    867
    I'd pass on water next to your rack. Do you have plan to leverage free cooling in cooler months? What are you doing for air filters.
     
    #2
  3. j_h_o

    j_h_o Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Likes Received:
    79
    Put some giant rocks or bricks in there for higher specific heat capacity.

    What happens in the winter? What's your year-round temperature range? Do you ever freeze, too?
     
    #3
  4. kapone

    kapone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2015
    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    297
    Yup. Insane.

    If you can't cool servers/rack full of "whatever", properly, in a safe manner, don't buy the equipment in the first place. I know it sounds harsh, but somebody's gotta say it.
     
    #4
  5. Spartacus

    Spartacus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2019
    Messages:
    344
    Likes Received:
    109
    How much equipment are you talking about cooling/how many BTU? Does your garage have any windows already?
    Even if it doesn't a better route might be to cut a hole and install a window A/C unit that is sized appropriately on the side of the garage.
    Then box off the area around the A/C and rack to make a server room (with insulation if possible). Those window units are super cheap, and provided it doesn't get insanely cold during the winter, insulation and heatload should keep everything good during the winter too (you could always get a unit that heats and cools if it does and set it for 30c during the summer and 15c during the winter).
     
    #5
  6. Dawg10

    Dawg10 Associate

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2016
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    112
    Set the thermostat to start/ stop in a narrow band.
     
    #6
  7. chaoscontrol

    chaoscontrol Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2019
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    10
    My rack has been in the garage for 5 years now. During summer it gets around 45 celcius and in winter down to 5 celcius. The temperature isn't a problem but do keep an eye out for humidity. Keep it as low as possible during the temperature swings.
     
    #7
  8. int0x2e

    int0x2e Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    30
    I guess you're probably right. I did also consider using oil (used motor / cooking oil) instead of water, but I guess either one is still insane :)
    I wasn't quite thinking of using free cooling before, but I guess I should look into adding external air intake and exhausts with some fans. Good idea!

    I love the rock idea! Will see what I can do. If I can pick up masonary blocks for cheap, that might make more sense so the small server room remains relatively clean.
    I'm attaching a chart of the year-round average temps, but I'm pretty sure these don't capture the daily extremes at all. In the peak of summer, noon time can easily reach 40C, even 45C sometimes, and in winter we get dips below 10C, but never below freezing. Humidy is quite high (~10KM from the sea), especially in the summertime.

    I can cool them for sure, I already do. Having said that, since this is the first time I'm setting up the space for the homelab somewhat properly and can do some planning, I'm trying to optimize my power use while trying to also not put the hardware through needless thermal stress...
    The idea wasn't a way to handle heat load I can't handle, it was to smooth out the temp fluctuations to keep the equipment safer.

    I'm planning for what I have with room to grow, so aiming for under 3KW, which with some headroom would be under 12K BTUs. I already plan on having a small lightly-insulated part of the room with its own split AC unit sized for the heat load from the servers and some losses on cooling the room itselft.

    I'm afraid for the small split AC units I can find locally that's not an option. I wish it was possible though!

    This is great to hear! That's a very similar profile to my temp range.
    Are you cooling your garage at all?
    Do you rely on servers that have very high airflow or just don't care?
    Any issues thus far?
    Any tips on controlling humidity?

    Thanks again everyone! :)
     

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. Dawg10

    Dawg10 Associate

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2016
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    112
    Really.

    Which mini-splits are available?
     
    #9
  10. Philip Brink

    Philip Brink New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1
    Perhaps a simple solution is reducing the noise and leaving it place. Depending on the equipment, fans could be exchanged, noise dampening, higher u sizes to increase fan diameter, lower noise psu, etc.

    If the server count is low, it may be a cheaper option and easier to manage.

    I have gone as far as using custom watercooling solutions with low speed/noise fans. The risks are pretty low with modern option, but it is there.
     
    #10
  11. SRussell

    SRussell Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2019
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    110
    How much are you budgeting for this?

    You could build a room within the garage. Insulate the room with closed cell spray foam and add a small AC unit. The same could also be accomplished with an outside shed that is insulated well.
     
    #11
  12. chaoscontrol

    chaoscontrol Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2019
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    10
    Not cooling the garage at all. Rely purely on how much heat each server is able to lose by itself. My machines are pretty idle most of the time so I didn't have any problems with airflow.

    No issues whatsoever but I will be putting the rack inside sometime next year just because I tire of going down to the garage every time something is up (my workspace is on the attic).
     
    #12
  13. cageek

    cageek New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2018
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Sounds very similar to a wine cellar. I remember seeing pictures of home-built wine cellars (closets, under stairs, basement, garages, etc.) in forums on the internet. Seems like similar problems - temp. & humidity - though of course not the same settings and no heat source inside a cellar. But, the construction techniques might be worth looking at, especially insulation, for some ideas.
     
    #13
  14. Smbaker

    Smbaker New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2019
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    7
    Many mini splits have inverter-driven variable speed compressors. Rather than cycling the whole unit on and off. they can slow the compressor and deliver reduced cooling.
     
    #14
Similar Threads: insane idea
Forum Title Date
DIY and Makers Spot 2006 Mac Pro 1.1 any ideas? Apr 29, 2019
DIY and Makers Spot Ideal location for home data center? Jul 22, 2018

Share This Page