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Emergency Cooling with Limited Power? 132

Posted by Cliff
from the what-will-you-do-when-the-A/C-breaks-down dept.
Nos. asks: "I work for a small webhosting company (I'm on leave from my Gov't job) and we've started having some power problems. Actually someone managed to blow out the substation powering the area so we're piggy backing off another one, and they're slowly powering more and more things off. Elevators, lights, etc. are gone. Since the building we work in has a few IT company's working it in, they're trying as hard as they can to keep the A/C running, but its not looking good. As such, the possibility exists that our server room could get very warm, very quickly. Since we've already powered off everything that's not essential, we're starting to look at ways to keep the room cool without using a lot of power. Generators an small A/C units are a last resort as it would mean holes in the walls. The only thing we've been able to come up with is dry ice and some small fans to circulate the air. Of course this is happening as we're heading in to a week of over 30C days. Does Slashdot have any ideas?"
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Emergency Cooling with Limited Power?

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  • by Gruturo (141223) * on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:25AM (#6498474)

    No, seriously, I don't have any exceptional cooling method to suggest, so I'd focus on reducing heat production instead of dissipating.

    1) Power off every non-essential item (You say you've already done it, but have a second look at what's REALLY essential. Got 2 firewalls in cluster configuration? Keep only one! Pull out that hot-swappable hard drive from your raid-1 array! - Warning: will have a long-term impact to your uptime)
    2) Ventilation. As long as you're not in Saudi Arabia, air from outside is cooler than what the server room would be without air conditioning.
    3) People! Humans give off a lot of bodily heat (Matrix jokes apart). Keep people off the server room unless it's really necessary
    4) Lighting - Use compact fluorescent instead of incandescent (they run much cooler, too) and turn them off when it's not needed
    5) Shadow - An incredibly effective way of bringing down room temperature by as much as 10 degrees. Might not apply to you, but if you are in a very exposed side of the building, or under the roof, you might benefit greatly from it.
    6) (Illegal in many countries) Cooling with running water. Extremely effective, but a huge waste of water
    7) (a bit extreme) Replace the less loaded and less critical servers with a couple laptops you might have lying around. I'm writing from a 1.6Ghz Centrino laptop with 512MB DDR - it's a lot more powerful than some of the servers I have at work. (and laptops tend to be terribly stable).
    Its power supply is rated 65W!
    8) - If all else fails, decentralization. Put the remaining servers farther apart (the heat in a single 42U rack filled with equipment is tremendous, while if you spread the content all over the room it will be more bearable for the hardware). Get a few very long network cables and take something out in other rooms, also (even if only the server room is ups-protected, it won't make a big difference when power goes down for a day).

    btw fp :-)
    • Dang, fp and spot on... checking to see if my cube froze over...

      About 10 years back we had a similar problem. The main AC unit failed and we were watching the mercury rise after we did most of the above. We were able to bring portable air conditioners which pushed the hot air though 1' plastic tubing to the cool outside air. It worked, no holes in the wall. The generator adds a little difficulty, but nothing long extension cords wont fix.

      Don't forget to pull the ceiling panels if you can - assuming th
    • by drlock (210002) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:57AM (#6498695) Homepage
      2) Ventilation. As long as you're not in Saudi Arabia, air from outside is cooler than what the server room would be without air conditioning.

      I grew up in the tropics, most of my life without A/C. You'd be surprised what a box fan (that is what we called them anyway, 2 ft square fans that sit on the floor. They don't use a lot of power.) in the doorway can do. If you want to get really fancy, try and force air circulation: Find two openings to the outside world (ie, window and door or 2 doors). Open one and put the box fan in the other. If you put the box fan in a door put cardboard above the fan (ie seal the rest of the door), so the air doesn't simple circle around the fan.

      6) (Illegal in many countries) Cooling with running water. Extremely effective, but a huge waste of water

      Or if you don't want to run water, put a large pool of water (think kiddy play pool) in front of the fan. Water evaporating of the surface will act as coolant (same idea as running water, but requires more surface area and doesn't give a constant supply of cold water.)
      • Er, most computer rooms don't have direct access to the outside (no windows, no outside doors). Usually they're buried in the middle of the building past a couple layers of security.
    • No, seriously, I don't have any exceptional cooling method to suggest, ...

      The guy admits right up front that he doesn't have an answer, and he still gets modded up as Informative? That's just great.

      btw fp :-)

      More evidence that he's just karma-whoring.
      • ... so I'd focus on reducing heat production instead of dissipating.

        Sounds like an answer to me.

        you might look for a portable swamp cooler if you have less than 50% humidity

        found this on google

        http://www.air-n-water.com/swamp-coolers-evapora ti ve.htm

        When I was a kid , in the california central valley, one of the tractor repair
        guys had a big one bolted to the back of his truck powered by a lawn
        mower engine.

        Pretty neat to have outdoor air-conditioning in the middle of a field in
        105 degree weathe

      • The guy admits right up front that he doesn't have an answer, and he still gets modded up as Informative? That's just great.

        I don't have a cooling solution but I do have a bit of advice which might make his heat problem a bit easier to cope with. I was not offtopic, trolling or making useless jokes so frankly I don't see any problem with that moderation (but I'm a little biased, be warned :-) )

        btw fp :-)

        More evidence that he's just karma-whoring.

        Sorry to disappoint you, no need to karma whore. Be

  • Is buying larger generators and hooking them up directly to the building's power grid an option?
  • by StormForge (596170) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:29AM (#6498504)
    It's pretty affordable to rent a huge generator system mounted on a tractor-trailer. Probably have plenty of power to keep everything running. Maybe make the power company reimburse you even?
  • AC onna truck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PapaZit (33585) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:34AM (#6498530)
    First of all, you should have thought about this BEFORE now. If you're a decent webhosting company, disaster planning and recovery is as essential to your business as spare hard drives.

    That being said, there are often companies who can provide air conditioning and/or generators on a truck. They'll block off a doorway or the loading dock and pump the air in through there. If you have a little more time (and appropriate permits, etc.), they're often willing to run temporary connections into your forced air system.

    Whenever they do HVAC work on our building, they have the trucks set up and waiting. We have a few too many computers to even survive with "just the essentials" if the AC goes out.
    • Agreed, and though I checked on most things, backup A/C was just something I did not consider yet. The problem is that while the building has backup generators running on natural gas, the A/C is not in this building, there is a campus wide HVAC system (we're located on the U of Regina campus). The power company is currently cavasing North America looking for transformers they can bring in to substitue in for the substation.

      Just found out as well, the power company can only guarantee the campus 3.5 megaw

      • "the A/C is not in this building, there is a campus wide HVAC system (we're located on the U of Regina campus)."

        Can you be more specific? You need to know exactly WHAT your central plant is supplying your building, because it's not cold air.

        If they are supplying condenser water (between 60F and about 110F), then your building has local units cooling your server room - probably Lieberts (trade name). If so, you need to
        1. power the leiberts from some temporary power source (your own generators with some t
        • Not really, with the bit of talking I've done with the maintenance guys, I was under the assumption it was forced air they supplied (be cooling or heating), but I couldn't say for sure.

          Unfortunately, we can't really power anything from our own generators. They are at capacity already, though I believe they are preparing to upgrade them.

  • Try to seal the room as much as you can (plastic sheets on all but intake) and put canisters of "Liquid Air" inside and turn the valves up to medium output.

    If you use standard "Liquid Air", hopefully it's the 75% N, 20% O, 5% others so it would be breathable if you need to enter. You _could_ go with N2 canisters, but that'd be dangerous as it'd displace O2.

    It would cost a lot for these cansiters, and you'd have to refill them every day. But that's why it's an emergency.

    The only thing I can think of is pa
  • dryice (Score:3, Informative)

    by JDizzy (85499) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:34AM (#6498534) Homepage Journal
    If you do decide to go with dry ice, make suree to have a good supply of fresh air to wash over the ice instead of letting the dryice evaporate in the data-center. What happens is dryice melts and turns into carbon gas, which makes humans passout from a lack of oxygen. It is even possible to die as this would be comparable to running the exhaust of the car with the garage door down. It would fill the room full of noxious gas. So the trick is to use the dryice in conjunction with a heat/cold exchanger to cool the air in the room. Then again, punching holes for the generators doesn't sound like such a bad idea any more huh?
    • Re:dryice (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tom7 (102298)
      The noxious gas in the exhaust of a car is carbon monoxide. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. But indeed it can cause asphixiation.
    • Re:dryice (Score:3, Informative)

      by gazbo (517111)
      ...as this would be comparable to running the exhaust of the car with the garage door down.

      Not quite. Yes, if you displace enough Oxygen with CO2 then you can asphyxiate. However, what makes car exhausts so lethal is the carbon monoxide. CO actually has a much stronger affinity to haemoglobin than CO2, so rather than dying because there is no Oxygen, CO will actively displace Oxygen from your bloodstream, even if there is plenty present in the atmosphere.

      Of course, this is not such a problem in modern c

      • indeed your correct, and I'm wrong... well sorta. I base my somewhat uninformed comment on the fact that there is lore about people who put dry-ice in a standard cooler to keep icecream from melting on a cross-country drive. As the lore goes: the couple with the cooler in the back seat suffer form a plauge of problems the entire trip. The man has a constant headache, and the woman is constantly sleepy. It turns out the dryice was the issue in the confined space. The dryice evaporates, and the humans breath
        • -indeed your correct, and I'm wrong...

          It takes a big man to admit publicly that he is wrong.
          It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man. Hehe.

          Just kidding. I took issue immediately with the dry ice thing ... jumped in here to say pretty much the same thing you said (so I won't bother repeating it).

          We are talking Canada for crime's sake - if 30 degrees C is the peak you are worrying about ... that's about 86 degrees F. Hell I live in Austin, TX and during our 105+ degree hot spell (6 months of sum
          • I wasn't that wrong, actually i wasn't at all, except forthe aspect of carbom-dioxide compared to carbon-monoxide and the different ways they kill humans. At anyrate, at my former job I ran some SGI Onyx machines (the size of refigerators) which had a auto-cut-off feature to self-die if the temperature rised above 112F, which was easy for those machines unless you had a swam cooler pointed directly at it. The same was true of the big honking HP t-600. It seems that only i396 machines have the abillity to ov
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:34AM (#6498535) Homepage Journal
    Sue the power station for lost revenue/downtime.

    If you're looking at dry ice and knocking holes in the walls, you're almost out of options. Save the hardware.
  • Nix the Dry ice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:35AM (#6498538) Homepage Journal
    I'd nix that Dry ice idea. Most server rooms don't have paricularly good ventilation despite the large amounts of A/C in use (it's mostly recirculated air). Releasing large amounts of CO2 into the room might just turn your server room into a silent deathtrap.
  • It may be pretty warm outside, but the machines will take it so long as you can dissipate localized heat build-up. Get a few circulating fnns and set 'em up around the room, with one blowing air directly in through a window. (You DO have a window, I hope.)
    • Re:lots of air flow (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zathrus (232140)
      I hope he doesn't... a window in a server room is highly insecure, and it also leads to fluctuating temperatures in the area of the window.

      Of course, with a fan and some cheap ducting you can have a similar effect. You'd need a much more powerful fan to do it though.

      A serious suggestion? Generators and portable AC units. I've seen them used by a former company when the AC was inadequate in the server room. They were about 1.3m tall and had large white hoses coming out of the top to make them about 2m tall
      • I think your supposed to put the hose outside or all the Unit does ultimatly is heat the room up.
        • Er... right you are. That or you blatantly violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics (insert ob Simpsons quote). Maybe it was hooked into the HVAC system then... there certainly weren't any hoses running outside of the computer room.
          • ah hang on you said feed them water, then it was a swamp cooler not A/C (ie a humidifyer basically)
            • Is humidity a real good idea in a computer room?

              And won't that just end up with all the heat in the air anyway? I mean, you can't make heat magically disappear, so it seems like all that would do is put a thin layer of water on everything, which would then evaporate, which is great for cooling people down, and might even work on the equipment if you don't short it out, but it's not going to actually cool the room down, so you're just delaying the inevitable.

              • well exactly (i didnt reccomend a humidifyer i was origionally commenting on the fact a real A/C needs external venting)
              • And won't that just end up with all the heat in the air anyway?

                Actually no. Turning water liquid into water gas is an endothermic reaction... it actually /absorbs/ heat to do so. This is why swamp coolers, and in fact your body's sweat system, actually work.
            • Getting a 'cool mist humidifier' (not to be mistaken for a warm mist humidifier) can do the trick assuming it's not very humid in your server room to begin with. Last winter I was living in a place that had very dry air so I got myself a CDN$50 honeywell cool mist humidifier from future shop and it did make the room more humid. It also made my freeze my butt off. My room felt air conditioned when the rest of the house felt like an oven because the landlord had the furnace running all the time.

              A danger

    • Have you ever seen a server room with a window? The general idea is, you want an environment that's as controlled as possible, which means no windows, and if possible, no shared wall with the outside of the building (isolation that usually works out nicely, until you have no reliable power to control the environment in the room...).

      Besides, if they had a window, I don't think they'd need to punch holes through a wall to put in any kind of localized A/C.

      They might be able to spread some of the heat into th
      • I work at the company also. We're not that tiny of a web host -- we host around 6000 domains currently. The power company is working on finding a replacement transformer if the current one can't be fixed. Last night they were draining the oil from it to check the inside of it for damage. It could be solved today or in a week (depending on how long it takes to get a backup transformer). I honestly believe they are trying to solve the problem quickly as a lot of people depend on the buildings we are located
  • by fraxas (584069) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:42AM (#6498577)
    Ask Slashdot.

    But seriously -- be sure to consider the relative risks of keeping your server room up versus taking it down and waiting. If you take it down now, you're guaranteeing yourself downtime, but you can come back online as soon as the substation comes back.

    If you try to stay running, you're not guaranteed to have downtime, but if you do it'll be intense, because you'll have damaged hardware to deal with.
  • rent a small generator that runs on gasoline(aggregator? i don't know about the english term for such), run the ac from that if you have to, that's what they do at farms when they storms cut off the power and they absolutely have to keep those strawberries in cold.

    and then theres the wet towels & etc..

    besides... 30c isn't that much if you can have massive ventilation(keep it that 30c), it's 33c in here my flat now and the couple of computers that are here run fine..
  • by haplo21112 (184264) <haplo@epithna. c o m> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:43AM (#6498588) Homepage
    We have these things called "movin' cools" basicly A/C on wheels...it does need to be plugged in, but you could run it off a generator and a long cord....

    They have a Dryer hose like outflow pipe for the hot air which we can connect at various points to the sent system...you could probably micky mouse it to your vents with some cardboard and Duct tape....
  • Dude. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Naikrovek (667) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:45AM (#6498598)
    You should have thought of this LONG before now.

    Why do you host at a place without dual power companies providing power?

    Why do you host at a place without dual redundant A/C on EACH power provider?

    Why do you host at a place without dual redundant power generators?

    Just how "essential" is the stuff you're hosting?

    How is it important that you're "on leave from [your] Gov't job"?? That's no excuse (if it was meant to be) for not jumping on top of that HUGE MASSIVE INSANELY rediculous situation your servers are in right now, and taking the steps to fix it the very first day you started at that job.

    in fairness maybe you started today, but i think somehow that you've had time to fix this before now.
    • Re:Dude. (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ... Dude. It's a small webhosting firm. It is utterly unreasonable for clients to expect a small webhosting firm to have the capital or clout to seamlessly handle a disaster, and it is even more unreasonable for someone who seems experienced in this stuff to expect them to.

      Why do you host at a place without dual power companies providing power?

      Why do you host at a place without dual redundant A/C on EACH power provider?

      Why do you host at a place without dual redundant power generators?


      Because some of
      • "Dude. It's a small webhosting firm. It is utterly unreasonable for clients to expect a small webhosting firm to have the capital or clout to seamlessly handle a disaster, and it is even more unreasonable for someone who seems experienced in this stuff to expect them to."

        Bullshit.

        How did they get to the point that this became a problem? I mean, what tipped them over the edge? I seriously doubt this happened instantly overnight - it's not like some hosting customer comes to a small webhosting firm and says
        • by sjames (1099)

          How did they get to the point that this became a problem?

          The unexpected total failure of the substation suplying their power grid probably had something to do with it.

          Let's face it, there exists multiple levels of service in this world, and there is always a risk analysis to be done. Sure, all colo customers want a zillion nines uptime, but most won't actually pay for it.

          A great many colo spaces would be ill prepared to deal with a protracted failure of external power, and would be scrambling for an

    • Re:Dude. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nos. (179609)
      You should have thought of this LONG before now.
      There's a lot of things that were out of whack when I started here about 6 months ago, I'm working on it. Redundant air was just not something I considered

      Why do you host at a place without dual power companies providing power?
      Because we don't have two power companies here. I live in Saskatchewan (Canada) and we only have one power company

      Why do you host at a place without dual redundant A/C on EACH power provider?
      The office is located on the Univer

      • If the wall of the server room is next to outside, put in a window. Get a contractor in there today, cost you less than $1,000 Canadian and you can hand tailor it to your needs. Make it big enough to put in two box fans, one pointing in and one pointing out ... or put in two smaller windows.

        Your systems will be just fine if you can keep them at 30 degrees C, and you can secure (brick up) the windows later. Hell, just remove (neatly) a few bricks for the duration and put a fan or fan w ductwork in there,
      • ---snip
        Why do you host at a place without dual redundant power generators?
        We have natural gas generators, however, they only power certain things within this building, not the A/C for the campus.

        ---snip

        Get the campus electrician to move a circuit from one of the generator backed circuits (say, heating, which is not terribly critical to you during the summer, even in Canada) to a circuit where it could do some good to alleviating this little crisis you have (your cooling system).

        Depends, of course, on th
  • Buy two big high output fans, the biggest and most powerful that will fit in the door to the server room. Stack them one on top of the other in the door. Face the one on the bottom in to suck relatively cooler air from the floor into the server room, and the one on the top out of the room, to suck the relatively hotter air at the top of the room out. This will work better if you can get the one on top all the way to the top, and seal the rest of the space in between. Also, this isn't going to be as effe

  • its called "Open the window"

    Seriously, get a few big fans, set one set in the door blowin in, one set in another door blowing out. DOnt have two doors? Make a hole. Drywall cuts easily, and also patches easily.
  • As water usually comes to the building through undreground pipes, it attains about 50-60 degrees farenheit.

    Bring a hose into the room, and use a car radiator or cheap, large coil of copper tubing, and run the water through that and into a drain. Blow air through and you've got a fairly inexpensive way to cool.

    Water is not expensive, but you could go through hundreds of gallons a day. Limit your water usage by watching the temperature of the incoming and outgoing water, and placing a valve in the outlet. If the temperature difference is great (60 in, 80 out) then let the water through a bit faster.

    You could even set up several of these in series so you can cool different portions of the room. Think about how the air circulates - if you can get the air to go clockwise around the room the fans will use less energy, and the whole room should reach the same temperature.

    Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be careful not only of leaks but condensation. Place buckets under the coils, and connections/transitions - make sure you have no leaks, and dump the buckets occasionally.

    If the cooling isn't great enough, put a set of coils just after the inlet into a trashcan of water and dry ice.

    Note that it may take several minutes of water running before you actually get the cooler water, depending on how much of the building it has to travel through to get to you. If it goes through a lot of the building, you may not have very cool water at all, as it'll attain the temperature of the building. Give it a good half hour or hour at full blast and measure it to see what is possible.

    -Adam
    • Wow, that would be a funny site to see, car radiators, buckets, and hoses.... almost sounds like something I would cook up in an emergency :)

      Our old server room (as well as the Phone Switch Room) were water cooled, although we had actual Cooling units.

      The Server room was cooled by a large Air conditioner style unit, and the Phone room was cooled by a portable one (although this 2nd room was only about 5x5, but contained a Meridian Phone switch that took up half of it, it worked pretty well. See If you
    • This has been brought up before, but this is an egregious waste of resources. Why would you consider using FRESH, potable, treated water to cool your room? Many parts of the world are under water shortages, so it seems to me that you would want to conserve water and find other alternatives. Also, if you start pulling a few hundred gallons a day more than you normally do, you'll have the Water Company on you pretty quickly -- they don't like huge sinks like this. Needless to say, cooling in this manner i
      • ObKarmaHit (Score:3, Informative)

        by TitaniumFox (467977) *
        Like most, you'll point out what is wrong with a plan, but you don't have a proposed solution to the problem you've pointed out. I'm sure your supervisors must be happy all the time.

        The proposed idea isn't a bad beginning.

        If a person is already going to go the route of car radiators and fans, why not spring for a cheapo (so-many-gal/min) electric water pump at TehH0m3Dep07 or the like. A car's cooling system theory is already engineered for you. All you have to do is apply different temperature gradien
        • One tweak : since the outside radiator you are dunking in water is ... outside, there is no reason not to supercool it using dry ice. Given all the dry ice floating around this thread I figured I would point out a good place for it.
      • "This has been brought up before"

        Yes.

        "but this is an egregious waste of resources"

        Already noted.

        "Why would you consider using FRESH, potable, treated water to cool your room?"

        As I've already explained, it's cheap, available, and can be set up quickly - it meets the poster's needs.

        "Many parts of the world are under water shortages, so it seems to me that you would want to conserve water and find other alternatives."

        Ah. So you are suggesting that by saving water here, shortages will
  • by hswerdfe (569925)
    move to Northern Canada! :D
  • by forged (206127) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:58AM (#6498704) Homepage Journal
    Well it is a bit late for that, but if you were a large datacenter hosting a lot of managed servers, wouldn't you consider low-power solutions such as....

    "So, when Transmeta Corp. came along in early 2000 and announced a processor that was 85 percent to 90 percent of the mobile Pentium's performance with a fifth of the power consumption, it was a no-brainer," Hipp said.
    The result was the RLX System 324, a blade configuration that packs more punch into a smaller space than any other server on the market?up to 336 blades in a single, 42-unit, industry-standard rack (..)

    It goes without saying that a box that necessitates 80-90% less power than an equivallent Intel or AMD, produces less heat. (from an older but insightful eWeek [eweek.com] article.)

  • Water Ice (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:58AM (#6498707)
    An insulated tank with water ice (don't use dry ice because of the CO2) and pumping the cold water through a couple of car radiators with fans blowing air through the radiators is probably the best you are going to do. Ice is very useful because it has the heat of fusion and a melting point of 32. The heat of fusion will keep the tank at 0 C and give you a good temperature difference between the radiator and room for a good heat flow; the heat of fusion gives you a good heat capacity. You can probably estimate how much ice you will need per day based on the capacity of your air conditioning equipment and it's duty cycle. 1 ton/day of ice is roughly equivalent to 12,000 BTU/hr.
    • You might think about adding some salt to the ice, too. I've added some rock salt to the beer cooler at a party on a hot day, and despite the cooler lid being open most of the time it was still quite painful to fish for beers hours later.

  • obviously (Score:3, Funny)

    by syrinx (106469) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:06AM (#6498764) Homepage
    buy several refridgerators/freezers, and leave the doors open!
    • Assuming you live in a subarctic climate like Portland, OR, consider this: You come home from work in the middle of winter, you turned the heat off before you left. You live in a cheap rental apartment downtown in the basement. You get home, and the apartment is cold. You've got snow up over your windows. You go into the kitchen. Electric stove (turned off), fridge (on). You open the kitchen door. It's warm. Why? That big coil under or behind the fridge is the exhaust end of the cooling system. T
    • This will actually heat the room up. Thermodynamics is a bitch like that...
    • Uhh....if he had the electricity to run the refridgerators...wouldn't he have the electricity to run the air conditioners?

      Yeah, I know...-1 didn't get the joke...your point?

  • Part of the cooling problem is that the fans inside the computers blow out hot air, and later on the same hot air gets sucked in again. You should try to remove that feedback loop. Use duct tape and some foil to make sure that the air blown out of the machines gets to the exhaust, rather than into some other machine.
  • IF you are in a low-humidity environment, you might be able to use a swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) - this uses a small quantity of water trickled over absorbant pads plus forced air to cool the air via evaporation. In a low humidity environment it can cool air by 15-20 degrees C, and takes quite a bit less power than a compressor based air con unit.
    • Or just water down the roof. A small garden sprinkler can cool a building rather well. It may make raise the humidity and that will be uncomfortable for the evaporativly cooled humans.
    • I would be careful of swamp coolers. Here in Arizona they are used while the humidity is low all summer (or where someone doesn't have air conditioning).

      The air becomes cooler with the water into the air. It also releases charged particles from the the water vapor and dust particles in the air reacting together. This could possibly short your systems.

      Good luck! At least you aren't 106 degrees F!
      • It also releases charged particles from the the water vapor and dust particles in the air reacting together.

        Would you have a link for this assertion? Air with a high moisture content is actually LESS likely to hold a charge, not more.

        Granted, wet air + dust can leave mud on your systems, which can be CONDUCTIVE (not charged), but if your server room air is that dirty you are going to have other problems.

        Since a swamp cooler is drawing air through a filter media, it is more likely to be cleaner than d

  • You could use this [computerexhaust.com]. But seriously, if you have rack cabinets, hook up the exhaust fans to suck the hot air from the back of your computers out of the computer room. And, keep the air circulating in the computer room to alleviate hot spots.
  • by Ophidian P. Jones (466787) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @11:13AM (#6499461)
    Submerge the entire room in mineral oil.
  • literally :)!

    I am a volunteer with the local fire department, and we use a 5 gallon cooler with ice water and a fan on top of it. It can truly cool the room immediatly. Its a special design what basically pulls water into the fan, and acts as a mister. It can immediately cool the room, you'd be surprised at how fast you'll cool the room. I would maybe setup two of these in the center of the room, with extra fans to keep the air circulating, low power, and work great. Can probably find them at Sams.
  • Ummm... About the ideas using swamp coolers, regular ice or some other scheme that will end up increasing the humidity in the room.

    Won't condensation be a problem if the humidity of the room gets too high? I would imagine that having the water vapor condense on the rack mounted equipment won't be a good thing!

  • Okay, we had the AC to a our server room blow out. Two things, first, get plent of airflow into the room... Second, get more airflow into the room. If you have to use dry ice, or just plain ice in buckets. We put holes in the buckets, and let it drain out the floor (you've got a drain right?).

    Heat rises. So you can keep the tempature of the room close to the ambient tempature of the rest of the building by getting enough airflow, and creating a way for the heat to escape up out of the room. Not sure

    • Dry ice won't drain out holes in a bucket, silly. Dry ice sublimates from a solid to a gas without becoming a liquid.

      And, frankly, it's an okay way to cool a room as long as you don't have people hanging out in there. Just dump the whole damn container on the floor, or possibly into a pan of water. (Note you don't want too much water, as that will make everything humid, but something like a cookie sheet might be okay.) Then you grab a box fan and aim it over the dry ice.

      The danger is that most people can'

      • No, but the standard stock frozen H2O type does in fact melt into water (I mentioned regular ice in the previous sentence, I only mentioned dry ice because the poster said something about it)... I wouldn't use dry ice, but that's just me. I can get straight regular honest to god frozen water, at the local gas station about 200 feet away from the building. We told them to fire up the ice maker, and we'd keep coming back for more. We had concerns about humitidy, but figured that if we kept enough airflow
    • Most computer equipment is rated to run up to 80-90F.

      Ummm... Most computer equipment is rated to 70-80C == 158-176F. If it were only rated to 80F it'd already be melting down at 27C, or just when someone touches a vital chip (body temp == 98F).

      • I'm not so sure about that. A lot of stuff can be that hot, or stored in a room that gets that hot, but can't be run in ambient tempature that hot for extended periods of time. They can't dissappate heat that fast. There is a difference between approved storage tempature, and approved to run in tempature. I wouldn't run computer equipment that I cared about in a room over 80-90F. While CPU's can physically be a lot hotter, running them in a room that hot means they can't vent heat appropriately in my e
        • Electronics parts are rated for the temperature of the part, not the ambient temperature.
          • That's not true. I've seen any number of parts that are rated for the temperature of the room. Look at the specs on your monitor, or a DVD player. They have specific temperatures that involve appropriate temperatures for running the equipment. I've rarely seen one over 120-130F. Computers bought in a single unit, normally talk about the temperature of a room. Then engineer did all the work to figure out what the temperature of the room will mean in terms of overheating individual parts.

            CPU component

  • in many marshmellows and sticks. SMORES!!!!
  • There is no free lunch. Dry ice would be dangerous and too labour intensive.....Mixed mode ventilation (essentially openable windows with fans, and other variations) is a possibility. Whats the room like?

    Cooling is difficult as you have to dump the heat somewhere....Do you have any extract grilles in the office? Any windows?

    Without knowing anything about the situation. I advise: Get a ASHRAE certified (you are in america, i assume) engineer to look at it. Say you're looking for cooling that runs off a bac
  • Buildings usually have a whole lot of small rooms; once you get air moving with a fan, you're usually blocked by walls. Could you use the unused elevator shafts as a cold air source/hot air sink? Open the doors 2 feet wide, stick a desk in front of it (one without a vanity cover, like a folding table) for safety, and stick 2 box fans there (the lower pulling cold air from the shaft, the upper near the ceiling pumping warm air back in).

    but, the real answer, like others have said, is that if it's so critical
  • I'm no HVAC expert, but it seems to me that the most efficient way to get rid of the heat and achieve a temperature lower than the outside ambient would be an open-loop phase change.

    But having either CO2 from dry-ice or excessive water-vapour in your server room is a bad thing, so you need to get the heat outside.

    Also the description of your situation makes it sound like you may be in a place without so much commercial services, but posssibly with a lot of local inginuity. Otherwise you'd have either re

    • Sorry, I see from annother of your posts that you're from Saskatchewan, which is hardly a 3rd world country.

      It does, though, have low humidity, which is ideal for an evaporative cooling system... just remember, if the evaporation tank is inside, the PPh2O will quickly rise and cooling effectiveness will plummet.

  • There is a quick and dirty solution. Fans! Go to Lowes with the company card and stock up on fans, cords, sheet plastic, and duct tape. Get a couple of the monster "industrial" fans and plenty of box fans.

    Lay out an air flow in the room (with an "in" and an "out"). If you only have one door, put the "in" on the bottom and the "out" on the top. Place additional fans to force the air to circulate. Set a box fan blowing air into the bottom of each rack. You want airflow you can feel exhasting from the to
  • Why not just try reducing the number of heat sources..that is where the biggest 'gain' will be, considering the overall goal. Shut down systems and external drives, chargers, wireless phone cradles, and all those blasted heat pumping CRTs. Keep this incident in mind next budget, and replace those CRTs with LCDs.
    • I was thinking that you consolidate all services to one server and gawk as you realize that you spent WAY too much loot on all those blinkenlights.
  • am i the only one who read the description of these power failures the way you'd expect to hear an actor on a star trek episode rattling off all the systems that have magically blown to pretty little sparks? (over a camp fire made of rocks heated by a phased electromagnectic beam, of course!)

    in that line ... i'd say "find the escape pod" ... or perhaps more cynically, "brace for impact!" 'cause i'm rather sure your clients, investors, etc. aren't going to be happy. good luck!
  • 1.) Bring in fans to move air into and out of room (should draw less than A/C). Open all windows. Shut off AC, unecessary lighting, monitors, redundant servers, etc., to save power for critical servers and reduce heating. Don't forget to remove tiles from suspended ceilings -- sometimes you can get some convection cooling via this space...

    2.) Call Caterpillar and see how fast they can get you a large portable generator -- large enough to power the center, servers, lights, A/C and all. 3.) Keep tabs o

  • This is only July, so the hot times, and outages are going to be coming. While I would go for the mobile generators, because someone may just shut all the power off, here is another alternative.

    Find a home heating/air conditioning guy to run a heat pump to the roof or outside the building. Then put the exchanger/fan/etc. inside the server room. One room only.

    The building owners have to conserve at the "building" level. In your case, you can claim this unit is critical to your business operations. Its
    • The army guy Bosnia two radiators (one inside with a fan blowing air through it into the room, one outside in a big trash can of ice water, hoses and a water pump, sealed system) is a poor man's heat exchanger that would work pretty well, similar to what you are suggesting but on the cheap side.

      Assuming he can keep the ice coming.

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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