Have I Lost My Mind? - New to me house needs network drops. Server rack in the garage...

eptesicus

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In a couple weeks, my wife and I close on a house in Middle Tennessee. The house is 4-5 bedroom and 2,540 sq ft, has a 2-car garage, has attic space, and is built on a slab. The house currently has NO networking ran into it at the moment, and I intend to change that in a couple days following closing. Being Middle Tennessee, temps/precipitation looks like this on average: https://i.imgur.com/RY1ZCL9.png

I want to wire up most of the rooms with multiple drops of Cat6 (red block in plan below indicates a keystone jack) ASAP so that I can cut access holes in drywall, patch, and paint before moving everything into the house and get settled in. I intend on running all network drops back to the bonus room closet to a 'downlink switch' (10GbE uplink to core) with POE for APs and cameras. One AP will be installed on the ceiling on the first floor in the living area and another will be installed on the ceiling upstairs to try and get the best coverage. I can easily add another AP to the master bedroom or bonus room ceilings if needed after the fact. The plan blow lays out where I intend to place APs, run Cat6 drops, install cameras, run all connections back to (bonus room closet), and install my server rack.

The plan: https://i.imgur.com/i9ScdZY.png

Server Rack

I currently have a 42U rack (drawn in plan), with a 10GbE switch, 48-port switch, 4x physical servers, 2x 4U 48-bay NAS servers, and 3x UPS'. This rack will be moving with us to the new house, and although temperatures in the garage could be problematic (more worried about UPS batteries than hard drives, but still a concern), I intend to have the rack setup there (see plan). I was going back and forth on whether or not it should go into the bonus room upstairs (pros and cons list below), but am looking for some insight.

Rack In Garage Pro:
  • Solid concrete floor (rack weight and can roll)
  • Noise contained in the garage
  • Heat exhaust not an issue (can vent into garage or through the wall to the outside)
  • Not taking up square footage
  • Less likely for vibration transfer from drums/music gear.
  • Easier to run 30A outlets from the breaker
Rack In Garage Con:
  • Heat/Ambient temperature in the garage
  • Bugs
  • Need another switch in the bonus closet for all runs to terminate to.
  • Close to water heater, but can block that off.
Rack In Bonus Room Pro:
  • AC cooling
  • No bugs
  • No need for additional switches in closet.
Rack In Bonus Room Con:
  • Heat exhaust into the room
  • Weight (floor/carpet damage?). Also can't roll the rack.
  • Noise
  • Occupying usable space
  • Vibration from drums/music gear could damage hard drives.
  • Harder/more expensive to run 30A outlets from breaker

I understand this is overkill for most people, but I want to do it right the first time... The biggest thing I'm getting wrong is not building a house that I could pre-wire before drywall goes up... Is my above plan sound? What would you change? Why would you change it? I've never installed network drops in an already built house before - Words of wisdom?
 

marcoi

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Sounds like a good plan so far. I had a similar situation, except for the house had some network drops in place which I am making use of for now.
I had the same debate on where to put the servers. I ended up putting them into a spare bedroom. It gets AC, max heat is about 87F in summer with servers running in the room when rest of the house AC set to 77. The house is in florida for temp refs. I dont run enough to need more then 15Amps. Even though i have 2-3 servers running, I try to optimize the wattage usage. I have some sound barrier foam on the back of the door to muffle the sound.

I probably eventually move the servers to either the bonus room or garage. If i went with Garage, i would want to build a separate boxed area for the servers with split AC. If i go with bonus room, i would build box as well to separate it from rest of the area as I eventually want the bonus room to be home theater room.

As for suggestions, if your going to be doing new drops, plan on have more then one drop. I would personally do 2-4 ports per drop. I guess if you ran 10 base-t line and switches you wouldn't need as many, but i think 4 drops ends up being cheaper while giving more flexibility.

Anyways im sure more people will chime in, as most here have datacenters running at home lol.
 
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Aestr

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If you can manage the temperature the garage is better IMO, for all the reasons you mentioned as well as the ease of bringing in new equipment as well as working on things. I'm not sure what your bonus room is used for, but unless you're otherwise staying out of it putting the rack in will make any other activities difficult. Getting a rack like a netshelter CX will help a lot, but it still makes noise, and good luck getting it up a flight of stairs.
 
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eptesicus

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Sounds like a good plan so far. I had a similar situation, except for the house had some network drops in place which I am making use of for now.
I had the same debate on where to put the servers. I ended up putting them into a spare bedroom. It gets AC, max heat is about 87F in summer with servers running in the room when rest of the house AC set to 77. The house is in florida for temp refs. I dont run enough to need more then 15Amps. Even though i have 2-3 servers running, I try to optimize the wattage usage. I have some sound barrier foam on the back of the door to muffle the sound.

I probably eventually move the servers to either the bonus room or garage. If i went with Garage, i would want to build a separate boxed area for the servers with split AC. If i go with bonus room, i would build box as well to separate it from rest of the area as I eventually want the bonus room to be home theater room.

As for suggestions, if your going to be doing new drops, plan on have more then one drop. I would personally do 2-4 ports per drop. I guess if you ran 10 base-t line and switches you wouldn't need as many, but i think 4 drops ends up being cheaper while giving more flexibility.

Anyways im sure more people will chime in, as most here have datacenters running at home lol.
Thanks for the input! I was thinking about also using the smallest bedroom for the rack, but would only want it for the rack, and not put my desk in there. I've had the rack by my desk for years now, and it's time for some rest for my ears.

I'm planning on 2 ports per drop, and will buy 2 boxes of 1000ft Cat6 to make it easier to run to each drop. There's a couple where I'm thinking of 4 ports.

If you can manage the temperature the garage is better IMO, for all the reasons you mentioned as well as the ease of bringing in new equipment as well as working on things. I'm not sure what your bonus room is used for, but unless you're otherwise staying out of it putting the rack in will make any other activities difficult. Getting a rack like a netshelter CX will help a lot, but it still makes noise, and good luck getting it up a flight of stairs.
Bonus room will likely be my office/music room with drums and other music gear. Getting a 42u up the stairs was an issue I thought of last night... my Tripp Lite 42U would probably make it, but with the landing and having to pivot (PIVOT!!!!) around it, I would not have a good time with that. If I were to downsize a bit, I'd likely build my own quiet 24-28U enclosure... but I've been thinking of running a small VDI/storage business from home, so the garage would be more ideal for that.

Garage, unless temps prevent it.
Noted! Thanks!
 

Mithril

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Sep 13, 2019
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+1 for rack in the garage.

As for the drops, unless you have (or are installing) conduit of some kind just run 2 times what you think you will need. I highly suggest running fiber between the garage and possibly to one of the other bedrooms that would likely be an office space/game room. You already have a 10g switch in your rack so it makes sense to plan on 10G+ to the more heavy data using rooms as well.
 

eptesicus

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+1 for rack in the garage.

As for the drops, unless you have (or are installing) conduit of some kind just run 2 times what you think you will need. I highly suggest running fiber between the garage and possibly to one of the other bedrooms that would likely be an office space/game room. You already have a 10g switch in your rack so it makes sense to plan on 10G+ to the more heavy data using rooms as well.
Thanks! And I agree. The plan is to run at least 2 cables per drop, so there will be 2 usable ports at each. I'd like to run 3 or 4, but that'll be overkill and I'm already going way over budget.

Regarding fiber between, I was considering it, but Cat6 is rated for 10GbE below runs of 180 feet. We plan on being in the house 3-5 years, as we're working to save and buy land and have my sister-in-law's husband build us a house. At that time, I'll definitely take advantage of exposed framing to do it right.
 

Mithril

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Since you are planning on moving in 3-5 years, that does complicate things. Normally I'd argue the cost of cable is trivial compared to the time of (re) doing things later, rather than "once and done". It's harder to argue that if you don't plan on living there all that long.

Unless you already have the 10-baseT gear, 10G over fiber is far cheaper. It also gives you an upgrade path to 25/40G, which I fully expect to come down in price. TBH, unless you have any 10g-baseT gear I'd personally go Cat5e, with fiber to the rooms you expect to want 10G+ in. MMF isn't that expensive, and the SFP+ modules for it are dirt cheap on ebay. SFP+ cards and switches are going to generally use less power and be cheaper too.

Buuuuuut, if you have some 10gbase-t gear already, I can totally see the appeal of going straight copper. :)
 

eptesicus

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Since you are planning on moving in 3-5 years, that does complicate things. Normally I'd argue the cost of cable is trivial compared to the time of (re) doing things later, rather than "once and done". It's harder to argue that if you don't plan on living there all that long.

Unless you already have the 10-baseT gear, 10G over fiber is far cheaper. It also gives you an upgrade path to 25/40G, which I fully expect to come down in price. TBH, unless you have any 10g-baseT gear I'd personally go Cat5e, with fiber to the rooms you expect to want 10G+ in. MMF isn't that expensive, and the SFP+ modules for it are dirt cheap on ebay. SFP+ cards and switches are going to generally use less power and be cheaper too.

Buuuuuut, if you have some 10gbase-t gear already, I can totally see the appeal of going straight copper. :)
Pretty much all of the data/bandwidth hogs are in the rack. Even though I do a lot on my workstation, it's a small Dell 7060 micro desktop which won't ever do 10GbE, but that's ok because I'm RDP'ing to the servers that need that 10GbE pipe. I just want the 10GbE pipe from the switch in the closet to the 10GbE core switch to ensure that my desktop still gets 1GbE if there's other streaming and usage going on elsewhere in the house. 40GbE will never be necessary to any drops in the house for us. If I need that bandwidth, it'll only ever be contained in the rack.

Right now, I have a Ubiquiti ES-16-XG for my 10GbE core, ES-48-Lite with 2x SFP+, and I'll probably put that in the closet, get a ES-24-Lite for the rack (mainly for OOB/IPMI/CIMC), and get a smallish POE to go with the ES-48-Lite in the bonus room closet. For the SFP+ uplinks, I got a bunch of SFP+ to 10Gbase-T transceivers from work, so it's more cost-effective for me to just run copper for those.
 

Mithril

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Man, where can I work where they give you 10Gbase-T transceivers? :D

As to the rest, yea I get where you are coming from.
 

eptesicus

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Man, where can I work where they give you 10Gbase-T transceivers? :D

As to the rest, yea I get where you are coming from.
The things people throw away or leave behind at the datacenter...

Also, I got to take home 5x HP DL380 Gen9's, 1x Gen8, 2x D2600 and 5x D3600 disk enclosures (all 7 have 6TB 7.2k SAS drives) a couple weeks ago... I have 900TB of storage in my office at the moment (what's in my rack and the HP gear on the floor beside me).

We're decom'ing our Chicago DC equipment within a year... that'll be a fun haul.
 
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Mithril

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For sure.... You want a 3Par?

I mean yea, but I've also got no spare budget for shiny stuff right now. Well, I could but I'd be breaking my own rule lol. Or you do mean that would be when the decom happens?

Sorry it's been a long day and my brain is on reserve power at this point :)
 

eptesicus

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I mean yea, but I've also got no spare budget for shiny stuff right now. Well, I could but I'd be breaking my own rule lol. Or you do mean that would be when the decom happens?

Sorry it's been a long day and my brain is on reserve power at this point :)
Haha, I'm talking about the decom. I know that'll get removed as well as some HP servers and blade chassis. There's a VMax up there too, but no way in hell is work going to let that one go.
 

Mithril

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Haha, I'm talking about the decom. I know that'll get removed as well as some HP servers and blade chassis. There's a VMax up there too, but no way in hell is work going to let that one go.
Hah, gotcha. Don't risk your job or anything. For sure I'm not the only one that would be interested in whatever you do snag and feel like throwing up for sale :)
 

NashBrydges

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The real concern with the server in the garage is humidity. There's a risk that temps will cross the "dew" temperature and you'll end-up with moisture in your server. Do you plan to close off the rack with some kind of humidity/temp control?
 

Mithril

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The real concern with the server in the garage is humidity. There's a risk that temps will cross the "dew" temperature and you'll end-up with moisture in your server. Do you plan to close off the rack with some kind of humidity/temp control?
I've had servers in a garage in 2 houses, so long as it is reasonably enclosed and you don't live somewhere that "permafrost" is a reality, or where humidity outside hits 90%+ regularly, I don't think it is likely to be an issue.

The biggest risk would be any equipment going from on and warm, to off and cold. Or a super sudden influx of warm humid air coming into the garage. Which you wouldn't want anyways (mold).
 
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eptesicus

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I've had servers in a garage in 2 houses, so long as it is reasonably enclosed and you don't live somewhere that "permafrost" is a reality, or where humidity outside hits 90%+ regularly, I don't think it is likely to be an issue.

The biggest risk would be any equipment going from on and warm, to off and cold. Or a super sudden influx of warm humid air coming into the garage. Which you wouldn't want anyways (mold).
I plan on getting a small, but somewhat industrial, dehumidifier for when it becomes a concern. I also thought about insulating the garage door to help somewhat as well. I didn't plan on closing off the rack completely, but have planned on lining the door with filters for dust only.
 

Mithril

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I plan on getting a small, but somewhat industrial, dehumidifier for when it becomes a concern. I also thought about insulating the garage door to help somewhat as well. I didn't plan on closing off the rack completely, but have planned on lining the door with filters for dust only.
Filtering is a really, really good idea. especially if you end up doing anything like say... wood working in the garage. Not that I've made that huge life error *ahem* :-/
 
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