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Home Server Rooms? 464

Tuzanor writes "I've got a buddy moving into a brand new house. Being geeks, we've decided to wire the house with a large home network. While this story took care of wiring the house, we need to figure out how to create a well set up server room. We'll be having both towers and rack mounted computers as well as various switches, UPSes, etc. Also, we figure this room will get warm, even in winter. How may we cool it while still keeping the rest of the house toasty warm on a cold Canadian night (without opening a window)"
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Home Server Rooms?

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  • Has always been my solution of choice. Of course, that only takes care of half the problem. I had considered switching vents. (Hey, if it works for 10baseT...) These could reroute the air to wherever it needed to be.
    • Shurely this should be under Funny Laugh... any self respecting geek would make the ceiling one giant Peltier Cooler, and there arent even specs for the servers, I mean if they think they can call themselves geeks without bragging about the Connection Machine they bought of Ebay or atleast talking nerdishly about racks full of 1U dual Athlon MP 1.6GHz boxes with 3 gig of DDR2100 ( sorry I refuse to call them 1900+...ughh)... is this News for Nerds or News for Wannabe Nerds, I ask you?
    • I've seen two way fans at Target; They change air direction acording to tempeture inside and outside your window. But don't put it in the window. Just put one in the door of your server room and move air in/out of the room/hallway. Hint put a vent in the bottom of the door and the fan in the top of the door to draw heat out in the summer. Winter is not a problem because most electronics can handle cold down to frezing. No humidity of course. You might need to consider humidity if you have a wide tempeture change in a short time. I bet Target also has dehimidifiers. Don't forget lighting protection on your meter box and phone/dsl/T1 line outside BEFORE they enter your house. Cover the floor (in serverroom) with silver conductive duct tape (the kind you get for AC Vent installations) in a criss-cross pattern about 1' spacing to discharge static from your feet. Use a needle to poke the tape together where it crosses and ground it at least two palces on the tape grid. Oh well enough of this rambling....

  • kill two birds (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eric6 ( 126341 )
    if you DON'T cool it, you also solve the problem of your staying warm on those cold winter nights...
    • if you DON'T cool it, you also solve the problem of your staying warm on those cold winter nights

      If you have hot air ducts, you can place a fan in them so as to always suck air from the room and distribute heat to the rest of the building. This would be helpful for upper floors, for example.

      a better solution would take air from the top of the room, and draw it into the basement, near the floor. This would lead to warmer floors in the morning, and circulate the air and heat through out the house.

      Of course, a lot depends on house design, but you get the idea.

  • Invitations (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:00PM (#2709469)
    You could try to invite some cool chicks.
  • ceiling vent (Score:2, Informative)

    by kidlinux ( 2550 )
    Would it be possible to install a ceiling vent fan, similar to those found in bathrooms used to vent steam? If you could do that, and possibly keep a window open a crack (just enough to balance the outside cold with the inside heat so it's comfortable), then close the door to the room, you'll be all set.
    • Re:ceiling vent (Score:2, Insightful)

      by skroz ( 7870 )
      Temperature is not the only problem; you also have to consider relative humidity. Opening a window may introduce more problems than it solves.
    • Re:ceiling vent (Score:2, Informative)

      by Garak ( 100517 )
      For the winter Just move the cold air return from a forced air furnace in the room. That way the heat from the servers is sucked throughout the house. Then put a few vents for the air to come into the room and seal up all the cracks like under the door. Then put dust filters on the vents. That should keep most of the dust out of the room.

      Then in the summer seal up the cold air return and use AC.

      In my old house I kept the computer room closed off from the rest of the house. In the middel of the winter the computers kept the room nice and warm. In the summer the house was always nice and cool without AC but here it dosn't get very hot at all.
  • by TheEviscerator ( 240966 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:01PM (#2709475) Homepage
    As far as heat is concerned, I wouldn't worry too much. Given the extreme lack of sexual activity associated with wiring your house with switches, UPSes, and god-knows what other geek toys, your house should stay plenty cold throughout the year, especially during the winter.
  • What I did... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jordan Block ( 192769 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:03PM (#2709479) Homepage
    Well, I recently converted what used to be a 10'x6' pantry in my basement into a server room.

    I tore out all of the old shelves, and picked up a bunch of nicer ones from Revy to hold my main servers and my (still nonfunctional) cluster, and screwed them into one of the longer walls. Opposite that, I used some of the old shelves to
    make a small workbench, and I left room to add 2 or 3 racks (not that I'll ever need that much space) at a later date. It works really well, and because it used to be a pantry, and 2 of the walls are bare concrete, as is the floor, its stays down right COLD in there, even with 10 or so boxes going.
    • Bomb shelter (Score:3, Informative)

      by dattaway ( 3088 )
      Concrete is interesting; its supposed to insulate, but for some reason it breathes cold air. The house I just bought was built during the Cold War and has an interesting room in the basement: the walls and ceiling are thick concrete. The temperature stays rather cool with all the electronic equipment running and I had to put in a quartz heater just to stay comfortable.
  • Decentralized A/C (Score:2, Informative)

    by cherrypi ( 71943 )
    At my office, we've got a ceiling mounted AC unit. It hangs from the drop ceiling, and I imagine it's less expensive than a full home-cooling AC unit, so probably no more than 500 bucks, maybe much cheaper. But it keeps our server room at a crispy 50 degrees F with minimal chill seeping out (so insulate the door).
  • Come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:06PM (#2709488) Journal
    Is this a serious question?

    Just set up the ventilation system to suck warm air from the top of the server room, and pipe it to the colder rooms in the house.

    For air return, install intakes near the bottom of some of the colder rooms.

    It would cost like $50 at a home improvement store to get enough flexible ducting and registers.

    Go to a surplus site like and get some AC powered fans with a good CFM output.
    • That's fine in the winter, but what happens in the summertime when you don't want warm air from the server room coming in?
      • Re:Come on... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Senior Frac ( 110715 )

        That's fine in the winter, but what happens in the summertime when you don't want warm air from the server room coming in?

        But, you do.

        This equalizes the heat throughout the house, so the normal house air conditioning can take it away. There's no getting around the fact that he's producing more heat than the normal house does and must pay to get it outside somehow.

        • Yes, but as he lives in a climate where the server room is hotter than outside even on the hot days, the most efficient way to cool it would be to just vent to the outside, then apply minimal cooling to bring it down to room temperatures (probably not nessesarly) The deal would be simply a matter of venting to rest of house during winter, venting to outside during summer. That should take care of most. I've personally never heard of a house with AC in canada.
          • Southern Ontario, plus Montreal. There's AC in Canada, oh yes.

            But you're right in a sense: it does depend on his climate, and if he lives in Prince George (for example), then he's got No Issues with it getting too hot outside. :)

      • You stick a movable baffle inside the main duct to take the warm air outside. Then you swear off of CFCs for the rest of your life and the global warming balances out.
    • by Publicus ( 415536 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @10:23PM (#2709802) Homepage

      It shouldn't be too difficult for you to set up some thermostatic switches to control the system. Just make it blow cold air (even from outside) into the server room when it's needed and blow the hot air into the rest of the furnace system when you need that in the rest of the house.

      If the server room is going to be in the basement, you probably could just put a blower vent going into the main flume from near the ceiling of the server room, and then spill the cold air from the rest of the house (or just some of it) into the server room, again from the ceiling. Then it'll be the coolest room in the house, and not just because it has a bunch of computers!

      Here's another tip, put the hot-air sucker near the outside wall, and the cold air blower nearer to the center of the house. That'll keep the air moving and thermoclining (layers of different temp air).

      Good luck!

  • Easy (Score:2, Funny)

    by TACD ( 514008 )
    I do assume that your server room will be in the basement / garage? Good-o.

    Is there any real reason why you can't just buy a couple of those big basement freezers and put them in there? It can't be too hard to put in extra lights if you need them, and I guess some silica dessicant would be a good thing to have in there too...

    After all, it is only a home server room. ;-)

  • electricity (Score:4, Informative)

    by mlanett ( 25627 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:07PM (#2709491) Homepage
    Something to consider: in California right now, electricity runs $0.10 to $0.25 per kw/hour. That means the cost per 100 watts of 24/7 computer equipment is between $7 and $23 per month. Easy ouch.

    Next, don't be a cooling idiot. If it's cold outside and your server room is hot, use the server room to warm the rest of the house. Air circulation. Central placement of server room in basement.
  • Couple of ways... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bteeter ( 25807 )

    There are a few of ways to do it:

    1) Shut off the incoming heating vents to the room in the Winter. Then reopen them in the summer when you don't heat your house, or when you have the AC on.

    2) Make sure any outgoing vents are open so that air from the room is circulated out.

    3) Fans in the window (in case the room really gets hot.)

    4) Thermostat controlled fans or AC unit in the window.

    Take care,

    We are almost out of Free Palm Pilots... []

  • Bathroom (Score:3, Troll)

    by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:11PM (#2709505) Homepage Journal
    Even better, put it in the bathroom, put your servers in the shower and just run water on them. Having them in that bathroom makes it easier to surf for pr0n while on the hopper.
  • Why not? Install a louvered thermostatically controlled exhaust fan and provide a louvered intake opening a few feet away. You want hinged louvers that close by gravity and are pushed open by the air from the fan.
  • by Kirkoff ( 143587 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:14PM (#2709519)
    Start with two racks, fill them with servers, Put the towers in the middle. Now, stuff those in to a small closet. You're running these all a bit OC'd, right? Great, now got to the store and pick up a product called "Cake Mix." Follow the directions on the box. It will likley need milk, water, and eggs. Put this solution in a pan and then you've got an oven that can play quake.
  • Why not just spread everything around? That way heat won't build up in a single room.
  • You'll definately want your connection dropped to that room, that's my first suggestion, or you'll go nuts later and kick yourself forever. Depending on the number of 1/2U systems you'll be using, a short stack can be easily hidden in a custom made (well-ventilated) box in the corner, complete with slide out racks(think drawers). I assume you'd also have at least one more workstation in this room, prolly more than that by the sounds of it, for lan gaming when friends come over and such (as you probably don't want to leave them alone in your daughters room while you frag them from your cushy den:). What I would do is find a nice counter-top that you like and build a wrap-around counter on two of the walls, meeting at a corner; this leaves plenty of center room space for big-leather-rolly-chairs-wars. You can easily hide all the towers, UPSs and cables under the counter, leaving tons of leg room, with everything else up top(obviously). I cool mine(let's just say I hear what you're asking) with an hotel wall-mount AC, which I picked up cheap from a place that was about to be torn down, YMMV.
    Plug everything in and invite the neighbors, cheers.
  • Heat, Noise Issues (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rmckeethen ( 130580 )

    Personally, I've got my boxen sitting within inches of the furnace and I've had them there for months without a problem. I live in Seattle, about 125 miles from the Canadian border so the climate is somewhat similar. Unless your buddy is looking at putting in loads of servers and other equipment I can't imagine that you'd have a problem. If you really want to 'do it right' you can usually get most manufacturers to give you the heat output rates for their equipment in BTUs per hour. Add all the rates together then you'll have an idea of how bad things are likely to get. I would imagine you'd have more problems with too much heat then not enough; it might not be a bad idea to check the room where the rack is going to go and verify that it has adequate ventilation to carry the heat load. Stick a wall-mounted thermometer in and see how it goes over time.

    One thing that you should really think about with rack equipment is the noise level. Manufacturers of rack-mounted equipment just love to shove lots and lots of fans in the backsides of their boxes; this tends to make a great deal of unwanted noise. Unless the plan is to have all this stuff in a separate room where no one is going to be in you might want to consider spending the extra money and get a glass or plastic enclosed rack. It costs more but hey, it definitely has the cool factor covered.

    • I live in Seattle, about 125 miles from the Canadian border so the climate is somewhat similar.

      Um no, anything west of the rockies is 10 to 30 degrees Celcius warmer in the winter. Real Canadian winters are cold, windy and snowy. (I've lived in Vancouver and Montreal, trust me, the west coast doesn't have a winter, they have a rainy season instead).

      • Agreed. I grew up in greater vancouver. I now live in Winnipeg. Winter here is typically a few weeks of -30C (give or take) a long with a few weeks of -20C and a few of -15C....
  • by A Commentor ( 459578 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:20PM (#2709538) Homepage
    Why didn't you just ask a local heating/cooling company? There several ways to handle it... depending on the size of the house, you can have multiple systems, or have dampers in the the ventilation system that can control the air flow to each rooms (with multiple thermostats).
  • No, no, no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cally ( 10873 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:21PM (#2709545) Homepage
    You don't want a carefully planned, neatly laid-out NoC with aircon, swivel chairs, subdued lighting etc. A good comfy ops room shoudl grow organically over the years.

    You want a cramped, untidy little room, with a stack of buzzing boxen to the left (from the bottom: OpenBSD, Linux, Cisco IOS, topped off with an old 15" monitor). No KVM - that's cheating; you have to scrabble around amongst the spaghetti cabling to switch the monitor to another box. Keep spare kbd's, mice etc draped over the monitor or propped against the wall when not in use; with the lights off, those three extra LEDs on the keyboard add to the girlfriend-impressing "Starship Enterprise" look'n'feel. To the right, balanced on top of the tower system housing your main workstation, you want an old analogue modem, and a desktop switch of some sort. Make sure the CAT5 from the rest of the house terminates just behind this switch - that way you get to mix the network cables up with the PSU, parallel cable->backup device, serial extenstions, phone plug-thrus etc. Top with stacks of unread magazines - New Scientist, Perl Journal etc - a couple of rows of books (remember to break the O'Reilly hegemondy with a carefully placed K&R, the Conway book, perhaps something on OO, SQL, firewalls, IDS and network security. Season with a sprinkling of "carefully filed" hardcopies of whitepapers, Slashdot stories, tech specs, man pages, discussions on the use of IGMP in scanning.

    Remember to get the carpet professionally steam-cleaned once or twice a year. Remember to empty the waste basket and remove uneaten food and drink containers.

    Cover the walls in Dilbert cartoons, printouts of UserFriendly, inadvertently amusing advertising materials, color "maps of the internet", and the SANS "Network Security Roadmap" poster (change every six months!)

    My personal shelter from the world, which looks just like this of course, copes with (a) having no radiators (or windows) by being right in the core of the building, so avoiding getting too hot in summer; and (b) avoiding getting too cold in winter (it's below zero outside, here in the UK at present) by housing the central heating boiler.

    At one point I seriously contemplated moving a campbed in here to save rent (I'm unemployed, & live in a shared house.) But my girlfriend said she'd cut my balls off, and then leave me. So that was that :)

    • Below Zero? Does it really get that cold in the UK? Im from Minnesota and we only have about a week or so where it never gets above zero, and MN is alot colder than the UK. Then I thought, Hes using Centigrade you idiot. You brits sold out, use Imperial measures, its the only way to go. I want 8 rods to the hoghead and thats the way i likes it.
    • by craw ( 6958 )
      But my girlfriend said she'd cut my balls off, and then leave me.

      Geez, you already have boxen running OpenBSD and Linux. Why not have your balls cut off. Then you will then run (literally) another variant, eunuchs.
  • solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by discogravy ( 455376 )
    build a simple wooden shack adjecent to the house, with no insulation of any kind. put everything there. run wires from that shack to inside the house (maybe through a window that's been packed with some insulation).

    ideally, you'd want everything outside for temperature reasons during the winter, but you'd probably have to cool them in the summer and you would still have to shield them from the elements during harsh winters -- hence, a shack.
    • I don't know about you, but I would _NEVER_ consider putting thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment in a wooden shack. That's not to mention its ability to protect the stuff from rain and other elements that could likely destroy the equipment, too.
    • I highly doubt he wants to have to heat it in the winter.

      Even southern ontario (Toronto) gets to -20 C periodically which is well below the operating temperature of any consumer grade computers. Military grade goes to what? -15 C?

      Might be safe in Vancouver with the shack though :)
  • by BrK ( 39585 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:30PM (#2709573) Homepage
    When it comes right down to it, it's really not that much of an issue.

    I'm on my 3rd house, which like the previous ones is automated and has several servers, switches, UPSs, etc running 24/7. The truth is that there is not *that* much excess heat generated in a typical scenario. Sure, you can pile up lots of servers to do odd jobs, just to try and make it look like some mini server-room, but that's hardly cost effective, or efficient.

    Without knowing the size of the room, the approximate BTU output of the machines and devices, and the heat loss factors of the room, nobody can *really* make any informed decisions.

    My sever room and wiring closet is about 6' x 12', which was also about the size of my previous room. I don't do anything special to control airflow or temp. I *do* have a temp sensor in there to monitor things, just in case, but I've found that it tends to stay at about 65F in the winter and about 77F in the summer. Hardly worth spending tons of money to try and regulate the temperature better, I'd rather invest in another lighting controller or touchscreen :)

  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:31PM (#2709577)
    (without opening a window)

    What's wrong with opening a window? I know, I know, everybody here loves Linux, but aren't you getting carried away here?

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fish.
  • by clark625 ( 308380 ) <> on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:33PM (#2709581) Homepage

    A good home server room is just as good as the design behind it. That's probably why it's an AskSlashdot question. An apt one, too.
    In my home, I set up my server room before we even officially moved in. I can get pics if people desire, but I'll give the gist here.

    First, it needs to be in the basement. Some people think it's only a heat issue, but the reality is that server rooms are noisy. I've only got four machines whirring about, and that alone is enough to sound like a wind tunnel.

    Second, build shelving such that you can walk around it and access equipment from the rear. How many tower cases have RJ-45 connectors on the front side? Didn't think so. I built shelving out of 2x4's, 3/4" plywood, lag bolts, and drywall screws. Some day I'll get around to putting formica all over everything (it's not that expensive and easy to do). Everything is strong enough to hold me jumping up and down without any wiggle.

    Third, carefully design how your wires are going to run. Raceways are a great idea, though you can also go the cheap route and use ziptie loops that have screw holes. Also, network wires should not be in the same raceway (and not parallel) to power cables.

    Finally, place your equipment. Servers should be placed where they most make sense, e.g. don't put the internal file server next to the router and the public webserver on the other end. People should get a "feeling" of what your machine's duties are visually. Also, keep networking gear all in the same area--hubs, switches, and even modems and your incoming ISP equipment. That's also the best place for your router.

    In addition, consider a KVM. They really are helpful, and cut down a lot on heat (and space needs). Some even have remote extenders--with mine I can work on any machine in my server room from my desktop in my office area. Definitely beats working in the wind tunnel.

    • by Kymermosst ( 33885 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @10:30PM (#2709816) Journal
      You know, geeking out now and then is cool and all, but why, exactly, do you need this much server equipment for a "home network?"

      Personally, I have ONE well-configured machine acting as the firewall, the router, and the file server. There would be a seperate machine providing external 'net service (HTTP) if I could think of any damn good reason I needed a web server at my house.

      So, one well-configured machine with 2 NICs, one 8-port ethernet switch and a DSL modem equals: one short Cat5 cable to the DSL modem, 4 power cables (one for the seldom-used monitor), and 8 Cat5 cables run to the rest of the house.

      What you and almost everyone else is describing here is more of what you'd find in much more commercial places, and a bit overkill if you ask me. My single-machine setup works just fine, and the advantage of one machine is that you DON'T need any additional cooling.

      All of it fits in a closet, and I can work with the server from any part of the house with a tektronix X-terminal, or the computer that happens to be there.

      So, I guess I wonder where the advantage is of having enough machines to have to design it so that people get a "feeling" of what my machines' duties are visually? What's the point of having a huge NOC in your house?

      Is there a point, or is it just merely to geek-out to the point of overkill, which I can also respect, but can't logically submit myself to?
      • by Bronster ( 13157 ) <> on Sunday December 16, 2001 @03:56AM (#2710573) Homepage
        Personally, I have ONE well-configured machine acting as the firewall, the router, and the file server. There would be a seperate machine providing external 'net service (HTTP) if I could think of any damn good reason I needed a web server at my house.

        I personally have two machines - one being nothing but a firewall and router and the other being all those handy services that you need on a home network (file storage, DNS, web proxy, testing DB and web server, etc).

        There are good reasons for this split of duties:
        • The firewall is running a minimal setup - no setuid binaries, no listening to arbitary ports (port 22 is the only open port, and even that is only opened on the internal interface), no wu-ftpd or whatever the latest insecure daemon is (oh yeah - no public BIND!!!).
        • I frequently mess with the config of my internal server, trying something different, upgrading to new versions of software. It's hard to keep a system secure under these changes. I very rarely touch the firewall box.
        • Attackers have to break two different machines (which should be running two different OSen, but I'm lazy, and LRP based firewall systems are easier than picobsd for what I want) to get access to anything. The router machine only has 16Mb of memory, and boots off a floppy - it's even going to be hard for the attacker to copy a binary in, with no wget or similar installed. If it gets broken, I just hit the reset button, and the write-protected floppy has the same config (which I guess I'd want to check anyway, for how they got in).

        In summary - home networks needs 2 machines - one providing security, one providing services.
    • Finally, place your equipment. Servers should be placed where they most make sense, e.g. don't put the internal file server next to the router and the public webserver on the other end. People should get a "feeling" of what your machine's duties are visually.

      Why on earth is this? Do you hold dinner parties where strangers get to come over and reconfigure your servers? As long as you're bright enough to remember from one day to the next which server is which, who cares how they're arranged? And what is the correct order for a set of servers, anyway? Alphabetical by hostname? Ascending order of system RAM? Uptime? Numerical order of primary service port?

      • Well, if you have three servers, then no, it doesn't really matter.

        Suppose you have twenty-three. Now think. You're going to sit down in front of these one day after having spent a month in Bermuda. How will you feel?

        • confused; or
        • familiar?

        I know I'd rather feel the latter.

        then there's the geeky-friend situation.

        personally, my favourite solution is to label my computers. give them names, and stick the names to them somehow.

      • Just for the reason that some of us are perfectionists and want things to be inherently 'right' or to make sense on their own without labels (but use labels anyway).

        PS, yes, I read the manual for everything I get ...
      • Uptime? (Score:2, Funny)

        by ZigMonty ( 524212 )
        I'd like to see someone try positioning their computers by uptime! "Noooo, don't plug the vacuum in there... ah crap."
  • I have three computers living in a very tiny closet, which would normally kill all three. The trick I used was that the closet has a removable insulated panel which leads to a non-insulated crawl space. By leaving the panel open by varying degrees I can control the temperature in the closet to reasonable while not freezing my ass off outside of it.

    Another solution if you don't ned physical access, just leave them in an uninsolated room and close the door. Warning though, watch out for the bugs ;-)
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Saturday December 15, 2001 @08:43PM (#2709603) Homepage
    Why not run ducts behind all the computers and have those ducts be the intake from outside for the heater? That way, the air comes in cold, get's warmed up (so your heater doesn't have to do as much) and cools the computers/room (serving it's purpose), then it's business as usual.

    Another suggestion is that when I lived in Salt Lake City our house had water heating. What if you ran pipes behind the computers with fins on the pipes (like a heatsink) then that water could go into the hot water heater. Once again, saving you some money.

    Where is the room located physically? Don't forget that an underground external room (as opposed to a room in the middle of the house) will be cooler.

    Being true geeks, you're probably not opposed to spending some moolah on this. What about doing something like this [] guy did? If you buried a few large tanks deep the ground deep so it's below the frost line, you'd get cold water for free. Then just hook all you're PCs into water cooling. Have them all draw from the same spot, and then all empty back in. That way you get free cooling and it'd be quiet. If you look back at my earlier suggestion involving the water heater, you'd be all set.

  • Electricity and outlets. Run at least 30 amps of service and preferably 45 amps to your room. Have outlets installed every 9 inches or so along the base and have the breakers be ground fault interrupters. You shouldn't use anywhere near 30 or 45 amps under normal circumstances, but inrush current can be quite a lot when you have a whole room trying to power up at the same time.

    Waste heat removal should he either to the exterior of the house in summer or the interior in winter. If you paid for it, you might as well use it to heat your house and not pay twice. Likewise, ventalation to the outside will keep your room within reason unless you get 90+ days where you are. Most commercial server rooms are in the "service core" of a building, do not have the luxery of ready access to lots of cool exterior air and can't do this.

    You will want to make sure that you run some sort of humidification in the room. You may wish to include a belt humidifier into your air ducting.

  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @09:18PM (#2709671)
    11 1GHz+ computers, 2 old workstations, 48 ports of Catalyst goodness and an external RAID enclosure. Most of it in a 10x12 room.

    First thing is: Open a goddamn window. Block vents if you're worried about screwing up your heating/cooling bill. Get a little Window AC for summertime - not that you're going to get 100 F summer days in Canada, but just in case you need it. The windows in my apartment building are extra-wide, so I have two box fans sitting side-by-side in my window, one blowing air in, the other blowing out.

    Scrounge a rack if you have to - the kind musicians use is cheaper than the ones computer people pay for. I pulled mine out of a dumpster at an Exodus NOC. I have a number of the identical tower cases - so I stacked them at the bottom of the rack, and started the rackmount stuff I have (a disk array, a catalyst 5005, KVM, and big ol' UPS) above that.
    Rack-mount stuff costs too much money but I love having everything in one place. I'll bet wooden shelves would be just fine if I didn't have stuff that fit inside the rack already.

    A $30 "Hobby" labelmaker works great for keeping cables straight. That and a whole bunch of chicken-straps (cable ties) and variety of velcro implements should be considered essential.

    Noise is a big problem for me. I lined the inside of some of my louder PCs with dynamat and carpet scraps, but that doesn't help with all the whiny SCSI disks. Not much I can say there. Maybe another ask Slashdot? In the past I wouldn't consider carpet in an area with lots of computers, but since I'm at home, I'm thinking maybe the noise-deadening features of a good, thick carpet might be a good thing.

    I don't pay for electricity (obviously!). I have no idea how much all this stuff costs to run. All my machines are on a UPS, though, which is handy. $99 500VA generic units are better than nothing at all. There's a pretty big electrical load in my tiny little apartment, but I'm lucky in that my computer room has, for some reason, outlets on three different circuits. I should think that having outlets on two circuits would be a minimum, particularly if you're in an apartment or older home, where tripping a breaker is either easier or more likely than a new home.

      • Noise is a big problem for me. I lined the inside of some of my louder PCs with dynamat and carpet scraps, but that doesn't help with all the whiny SCSI disks. Not much I can say there. Maybe another ask Slashdot?

      One way to eliminate noise from hard drives is to mount them in your case using rubber washers. This forms a tight connection, and minimizes vibration. You will still get some noise, but it will be greatly diminished.
    • I have a similar setup in one small room: about 8 to 10 computers (varies depending on how many servers are on loan), 40-port HP ProCurve-4000M, three dedicated lines into the house, and lots of blinkin' lights. As the guy who sits in that room about ten hours a day, let me heartily second your recommendations and add the following:
      • Racks are helpful for space management and organization. If you don't need or want the expense of computer rack units, restaurant shelving makes for a great homebrew rack system. It's attractive, easy to clean, and sturdy (get the kind with the diagonal cross-braces).
      • A label maker is indeed a lifesaver. I have a handheld Dymo and it has prevented innumerable cable hunts. Get one.
      • Noise is indeed the big challenge. My room is carpeted, which helps a lot, but even so high-speed server disks emit an ear-rending whine that over time bores into one's very soul. While I can live with the starship-like background hum that ebbs and flows as countless CPU and power-supply fans compete for air, the drive noise is too much to bear. With my old setup, I would occasionally notice that two drives spinning at slightly different speeds would cause an barely-audible throbbing at their beat frequency. Drove me nuts. I finally solved the problem by cheating -- I swapped out the noisy drives for quieter ones. I have a small graveyard of 9.1-GB "screechers" just waiting to be resurrected as storage for a server I can deploy at somebody else's site. ;-) Lesson: When you shop for drives that will be sitting beside you for months, always check the noise levels.
      • Think about the electrical situation. More circuits == better. My house is old, and my lab has only one dedicated circuit. I've pretty much maxed it out and wish I had more. Regardless of how many circuits you have, beefy UPSes are highly recommended, especially ones that have voltage adjusting features to help ride out brownouts and other under-voltage conditions, which are particularly damaging to computer electronics and are likely if you have motors on the same circuit. If you need more uptime insurance, get a generator. My lab circuit is backed by a generator, but it's loud and annoying, so I recommend choosing UPSes that are big enough to ride out all but exceptionally long outages. Also, the power that comes from small generators tends to be noisy, so if you have one, make sure that your UPSes are good at filtering.
  • Use cool computers? (Score:3, Informative)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @09:26PM (#2709685) Homepage
    Do you already have all this equipment, or are you planning to kit out the room after you move in?

    If you plan ahead, you ought to be able to set up with all the gear you need, without using too much power/making too much heat.

    Start with one big Linux server. Equip it with a ridiculous amount of RAID storage: how about 3 or 4 80 GB drives in a RAID 5 configuration; that's 160 GB or 240 GB right there. Use a 2-processor SMP Socket A motherboard, and a couple of Athlon MP chips. (When the .13 micron version of the Athlon MP comes out, you can get a speed boost and a heat reduction in one go, so I'd get the cheapest Athlon MP chips available.) With that amount of CPU horsepower you can do Linux software RAID for free (just make sure each IDE drive has its own controller, i.e. only one drive per cable) and still have lots of power left over for running server software.

    Now I assume you want some number of other computers for various purposes. At a minimum you want one firewall. If you want a server exposed to the net you really want two firewalls, with the net server behind one and your really big Linux server behind both firewalls (and the second one should be really locked down!). For these extra computers, you ought to look at using the Shuttle SV24 [], with a VIA C3 [] chip. The SV24 has little expansion capability, so it only has a little power supply, so it only makes a little heat. The C3 dissipates about as much power as a night light ( 7 Watts) typical and 11 Watts max according to the Via web site. You don't even need a fan on the heatsink: a simple passive heatsink is enough for a C3! For firewall use, put an extra net card in the single PCI slot on the SV24.

    Because Linux can boot off a floppy (try that with Windows XP Professional Server sometime) you can set up the SV24 boxes with just a floppy and a whole lot of memory. If you can get a net boot working with the built-in 100 Mbps Ethernet, you don't even need the floppy.

    Of course your personal workstation/gaming boxes can run hot with fast CPUs and fast 3D graphics cards and such, but those probably won't be in the server room!

    Unless you are planning to invest in a render farm or Beowulf cluster, you should be able to get everything you need running, and it shouldn't get too hot.

  • Self Contained (Score:3, Informative)

    by travisd ( 35242 ) <> on Saturday December 15, 2001 @09:28PM (#2709688) Homepage
    Liebert maked a self-contained rack with built in air conditioning and UPS. Details here [].
  • Heat, Dust & Noise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @10:11PM (#2709775) Homepage
    Unless the room is broom-closet sized, or you got a lot of equipment (more than 5 or 6 Athlon /p4 servers), the equipment can probably survive without active room cooling. Internal cooling of the cabinets may have to be beefed up, especially multi harddisk systems (cheap to do though).

    Perhaps some creativity may help too. Perhaps some of the systems doesn't need to run 24/7.
    Some BIOS's have an internal timer and calender, so you can shutdown the systems when likely not in use.
    WoL (Wake on LAN) to remote boot, suspend or shutdown systems can be nice too (almost all nics and mobos support WoL nowadays).
    Hook it up with some X10 gadgets and a sensor, so that the system(s) boot, if you go near your bedroom console at night, or you alarm clock goes of in the morning, or if you start your coffe machine after 2 o'clock in the night, or...

    Other power management features may be present in the OS, so you can suspend the entire system, or just the harddisks, by a cron /at jobs.
    Not only will you save some money, but the room will run cooler too.
    And unless you run your own DNS, mailserver, etc, then a shut down firewall /router at night, is probably the safest firewall you can get;-)

    This is my nemesis at the moment, our server room is in a basement, with an untreated cement floor.
    I suspect our DAT and some other stuff, died because of the cement dust (ok, so DATs always break down after a short while, but..). Anyway, fans and PSU's seems like dustmagnets, which again leads to worse internal component cooling, so a clean room, without carpets is my recommendation.

    All your equipment will make an infernal noise, and a generally bad indoor clima in the room. Of course, people have very individual sensitivity to this, but personally I prefer to hack outside the serverroom.

    I final note, if you run a Linux box, then I can only recommend netsaint, from
    It is a very flexible, very reliable monitoring system. Since it checks services with plugins, it is easely extensible to include eg. room temperature measurement. Netsaint is simply the best of the pack.

    Oh, a minor thing more; we have never regrettet our small investment in a handheld labeling machine. A small label saying "Cross-over" on a Cat cable or "UPS" on a power cord, saves a lot of trouble.
  • by hillbilly1980 ( 137340 ) on Saturday December 15, 2001 @10:28PM (#2709813) Homepage
    Well you have a furnace don't you. I have a fairly spacieous and well sealed furnace room. In your instance take advantage of that.

    Go to Home Depot get a register T and insert it into the cold air intake coming into the room. Add a booster fan ( be sure that is sucking air down and not blowing it up, its a cool idea to suck all that warm air out... its also a cool idea to keep that furnace with enough oxygen so it doesnt' go and kill you with carbon monoxide.)I left the remainder of the intake pipe going back down to the furnace so I was simply tapping into the air supply and not diverting the entire flow.

    Next create a simple register system that blows down on the back of the systems, get some straight register pieces and some elbows, its just like connecting straws together. The furnace should easiely handle the excess heat ever time it kicks in. You can also throw in a standard thermostat in and set the furnace fan to summer mode, so it will kick in whenever the temp goes above a certian tempature.

    Now you could also go a step further and encase the systems into a sealed box ( essentially we thought about getting some plywood and making like a small sealed shed in my furnace room, and then forcing the air out with a second fan that would runn the air directly to the air intake of the furnace.) The only warning is don't try and force the exhausted air out through the chimmney for the furnace... why you ask.. because you don't wanna mess it up and again...and say, flood your house with deadly generally unnoticable furnace exhaust.

    and then attatching a standard register booster fan to my incoming air chimmey ( which anyone with a furnace will have its required by law, although i don't know if modifying it is legal.. :] ). An
  • Where is the room exactly? I have a number of servers in the same room as my furnace and heat has never been a problem. The room is in the basement and has no windows.

    I think this is they key. If you put your stuff in a naturally cool room with normal ventilation, you'll be fine.

    The dude that posted the comment about cost of electricity for your servers made a good point. I estimate that my router and mp3 server cost me at least $20/month. I'm working on setting up power management for them, since they're not needed from like 2am - 8p.

  • Related, anyone know where I can get inexpensive (or gently used) rack cases, similar to (or exactly) what they use to move around rack-mounted audio gear? Y'know - the felt or carpet padded 19" rack cases on wheels? I've moved so many times over the past few years that I'd be able to make sure my rack mounted gear survives nicely in something like this. Better yet - I can just leave it setup in the case on a permanent basis, and can get rid of the short rack. The online musician's stores have these, but it's more than I'm looking to spend.

  • I guess most of us reading and posting on this story have several machines at home. I have three machines on "active duty" (main workstation, DSL-gateway and webserver) and two more that are basically collecting dust except for when I want to test something unusual. A number of projects to get them into active use culminated with a beowulf, but that was a short w00t. (Whee, I have a beowulf! Now I can...I can...*crickets*).
    Now I'm down to 5 machines, the all-time high was 8, and most of the recent leftovers are being donated to the family instead of ending up in the "next box" box.

    Three units makes sense to me. It allows for all sorts of network testing and experimenting, so for a computer professional/hobbyist it's still rational.
    What I'd like to know is what use you guys find for that 4th, 5th, 12th machine? I know from personal experience that "just for the heck of it" can be a good motivator to add another old machine the the net, but I'd enjoy it greatly if someone could elaborate on their far-out home setups, and perhaps spread some inspiration to the rest of us?
  • COOL Room (Score:2, Funny)

    by RJR ( 533222 )
    Place the racks on turntables with bookcases on the other side. Build a nice antique-looking table where the front cover slides to reveal the keyboard(s) and raises the monitors to a comfortable 45 degree reading angle. You've seen the Bond movie: "Just Like Home." Add the door switch or motion sensor for the alarm system so all screens go to screen-saver mode with your official looking logo (RCMP?) popping up as the lighting changes to red. (AKA, a recent JAG episode.) Others have answered the cooling question, but this will have your friends, clients, police, etc, saying "COOL!" Bob
  • One thing to find out BEFORE you begin mounting expensive electronic equipment down in your nice, cool basement is:


    My parents place was in a well developed subdivision with one decent power drop and one shitty one. Guess which one they were on?

    So every time they'd get a bit of rain, BOOM. Out would go the power in their place, and every place down the right-hand side of the block. While our next door neighbors off to the left (and down the left side of the block (we were at the end of a cul-de-sac) had power.

    Consequently, if this happened in the middle of the night, they'd take on 3-4 feet of water.

    If you're in an area that has no flooding problems, you're set. You can drop your setup down in the basement.

    If you live in an area that's flood prone, then take the extra time and money to rig the server room on the main floor.

    Have a cold-air return in the floor (or low on the wall) blowing directly into the equipment bay. Then (assuming you're in a one story home), have a ceiling ventilation fan above the rack.

    You can find a lot of HVAC supplies to improve your climate control here []. Look particularly closely at the duct fans.

  • Water? Water! (Score:2, Interesting)

    My potential server room will be (If my mother agrees, of course) a box of about 0.5*0.5*2 meters located above the passway to the standard micro Soviet kitchen of Khrushchev epoch. Really, in winter (-31 deg. Celsius day temperature NOW) I can drop the heat into the kitchen, it's enough.

    But in summer! Street temperatures are higher than +30C, and with my $100/month budget it's difficult to buy a split-system air conditioner.

    The decision is very simple: There is always a lot of cold water in the tap. I only need a used car radiator and a fan. Add the thermostatic controller and electromagnetic valve according to taste. The water tariff is flat here, and the water from Lake Baikal is always cold. Of course, if the aquifer is being repaired, you are out of luck.
  • Wow, the answers you've gotten.

    A window unit air conditioner can be found for under a hundred dollars if you catch it on sale.

    Everybody from Lowes and Home Depot to K-Mart and Wal-Mart sells them.
  • So many posts here seem to think it's weird that a geek would want a hardware room. Of course you want a place for all your extraneous electronic crap. And although one tries to buy heat-efficient gear, sometimes you run across something that's too interesting to pass up -- maybe an old rackmount server, maybe a bunch of video editing gear, maybe a pinball machine. And of course, there will be the various routers, modems, etc. that stack up over time. I have in front of me three different DSL routers, for example, plus two analog dialout routers and various modems, that have accumulated from different ISP packages -- when they give you the router for free, you take it. (If you throw it out, inevitably you wind up needing it.) And of course I have several printers, scanners, a plotter, Raritan switchboxes, midi hardware, hubs, an 8-track recorder, and plenty of old 'servers' that are only servers because I don't use them as desktops.

    The comments about window air conditioners sound right, though modern hardware is environmentally very rugged, so if you are using a glorified closet, it's still probably OK. You might consider a little circulation fan to blow hot air into the rafters (I did this in my phone/cable closet).

    Bottom line: you may not truly need a server room, but you need a workshop, and it's often easier from the standpoint of spousal harmony to call it a server room: "Honey, we need this for technical reasons." :) Get it?
  • Here are a few things that can make a room more livable

    Put up a couple of 4 bulb ( 400W ) chandaliers and put them on a dimmer. You can have comfortable dim light for keyboarding etc. or bright light for fishing dammits out of whatyamacallits. I got two of these type of lights from Home Depot closeout in the lighting department for about $25 each.

    There is high-capacity adjustable shelving that uses the rails that you screw to the walls and has movable brackets. This makes handy bookshelves above your work surface area.

    I organized my room with corner work units in two corners ( seperated by the long wall of the room ) with matching tables between them along the walls and returns on the short side. The side of the room without the computer tables has a book case, a stereo rack and a horizontal filing cabinet with the fax machine and guitar amp on it. Guitars hang on the wall above the amp for easy access. In the center of the room is a dining table - a good place to lay out diagrams, photos or build boxen.

    KVM switches for the two main work areas help cut down the clutter, a few other computers have their own monitors etc. Carpet on the floor may not be the best for dust control, but it is cozy for bare-footed living. Get a vacuum with a hepa filter on the exhaust.

    If you are building the house and wiring the room for the purpose of being a computer room, think about putting the data outlets up at 36" or so off the floor, so you can wire stuff on the desk without crawling around to pull cables. Remember to pull several dedicated 20 Amp power circuits - figure out what you are going to run and make sure you have enough amps to support it all plus some. Do not let the electrician share the computer room power circuits with other bedrooms or the kitchen.

    I have decided to power down stuff I am not using due to the combination of noise and the now high cost of power. $.25 per KWH at the high tier - and I had about 365 KWH of high tier last month! $ 300 electric bill and that is with a gas clothes dryer, water heater and cooktop. ( that is with 11 people in the house however )

    If you have the money, consider building photovoltaic co-generation into your home. It might prove very wise over the long term.
  • false flooring (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @02:01AM (#2710361)
    One thing I haven't seen mentioned that I saw when I worked at IBM was to use a false floor. If you raise the floor 6-12 inches on a simple framework, and use removeable tiles, you can run cables and cords from anywhere to anywhere and not worry about tripping.

    In fact, they not only used this technique in their server farms, but also in the production line. When they added on to the line, they dug a 8-foot hole, and then built scaffolding and a false floor. All the plumbing and wiring run under it.
  • I had a similar problem in my house. My server room was getting too warm in the summer and in the winter it was nice and cozy.

    I took the easy way out. I just decided to run the fan on my HVAC all the time. This does a few things for me:
    • Equalizes the temp in my home
    • Filters the air 24/7 (including colds and viruses according to the filter makers)
    • Costs about $40 per year in electricity (worth it according to me)
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `yburxyno'> on Sunday December 16, 2001 @03:37AM (#2710548)
    First, let me start with where I have experience on such things. I got my professional entry into the computer world by working with specialized computerized HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) equipment. The company I worked at was quite large (Fortune 100 company), and had facilities all across the US. All of these are computer controlled for environmental concerns. In particular, the computer rooms had the highest priority of anything. I was responsible for over 600 server rooms and worked with HVAC, electricians, code inspectors and fire marshalls on a daily basis. I dealt with practical problems of the design and support of such rooms for a living. Thus, I hopefully know what I'm talking about.

    There are two primary issues that you need to be concerned about - heat removal and electricity. Both of these should be designed into consideration for the room to begin with. Since your building the house, you have an opportunity to deal with these properly to begin with. This should save you thousands of dollars vs trying to hodgepodge things together after the fact.

    The first consideration is to make sure that you have an ample supply of electricity to the room. This involves more than just having a bunch of outlets all over the place. The first thing that you MUST do is to have adequate gauge electrical wire running to the room from your circuit box (make sure circuit breakers are adeqaute as well). If this isn't adequate, you won't pass inspection. You can't use the same gauge wire that you can get away in the rest of the house. You need a lower number gauge, and more of it. The primary consequences of failing to do this will be an inability to run everything at once without tripping a circuit breaker. I recommend having at least two dedicated runs of wire to the server room. Make sure their breakers are labeled and control nothing else. Also have a dedicated smoke detector hardwired for this room (the insurance company will like / require this and it will help for your safety as well.

    There are also code issues here. If the wiring is inadequate and your house burns down from this (circuit breakers can fail to trip) your insurance company won't pay you a dime. If the electrician tells you not to worry about this, things will be fine, tell him to do it anyways. Follow up on this by physically verifying that the gauge is different. Remember the electrician who does your house is judging by the standard of what the typical urban household needs. It is important to remind him that this is not the typical urban house. If done during construction the cost will be minimal, if done after construction (drywall) the cost will be thousands of dollars. Also consider having one or two 220 volt outlets installed during this time. If you need to install a room air conditioner for your server room you'll need this. You'll also likely want a single heavy duty UPS for all of the equipment vs several smaller ones. Such a UPS will also require 220 Volt power. All of this will probably not add more than $200 if it is done before drywall goes up and while the electrician is on site anyways. One other thought here, make sure said wire gauge differences are documented and signed by the electrician, and then videotape everything before the drywall goes up.

    Now that you have power in place you'll want to examine heat removal issues. If you put this in a basement, it will naturally be about 10f cooler. This can be used to your advantage. Keeping this room in the center of the house will also help keep it cooler / warmer for less costs. Keep in mind that the standard home AC unit will not be sufficient to cool such a room. Talk to the HVAC contractor and start by getting dedicated ducts that go to this room only (not a feed from another duct). Tell them what the room while be used for and they can help out, it's something that is pretty common for any contractor that also does commercial work (avoid HVAC contractors that only do residential work like the plague). It will also help if the room has a higher than average ceiling (give the heat somewhere to go) and a ceiling fan to help pull hot air up. You also want to keep the run (length of duct from AC unit to room) as absolutely short as you can get away with.

    Consider getting a purpose built building interior air conditioner for the room. They cost about a grand, but don't have to have dedicated ductwork available to them. They are also far cheaper than failed components if you get a sudden hot day that overwhelms your air conditioner. Remember that standard air conditioners are sized to handle not the hottest days in your locality but a point that is 85% - 90% equivalent to the hottest days (there are good reasons for this, but I'd be getting off topic). In other words, don't count on the home AC to handle this room. It's not just a matter of being comfortable, it's a matter of avoiding replacing failed hardware that got too warm. This always ends up costing more than it would cost to do it right in the first place.

    Now you can deal with the smaller issues. Make sure you have lots and lots of 4 bang outlets. Also make sure that you have indirect lighting in the room. It may be worthwhile to install some foam for noise absorption while your at it. It's not very expensive and it can make a big difference. You also want to make sure the floor is wood, tile or concrete. Avoid carpet that can create static electricity. Make sure you have your wiring coming to the room through PVC or steel conduit. Make sure the access point isn't going to be blocked. From here I would advise to go ahead and buy a rack. It will save lots of space, the standard is there for many things, and it will make things look much nicer. You can also set up a proper patch panel this way.

    Just my 2 and a half cents worth, would add more but this is long as is.

  • by axelbaker ( 167936 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @04:56AM (#2710632)
    Unless I am mistaken you said you live in Canada. The land of ice and snow (according to what I am told). Why are you worried about your computers overheating? Spend the extra $$ you are thinking about for cooling your computers on EXTRA insulation for the rest of the house!!! The $$ saved over the life of the house will pay off big time and you will help the environment by spending less fossil fuels on heating and cooling. Also, invest in spending $$ on computers the produce less heat, and use less power. Use less monitors, and KVM switches. Your 100 watt 21" monitor uses tons more power and produces tons more heat than that 5 watt Athlon. If they must produce heat, have it use the heat for good. The suggestions of using the heat to feed the inlets on the heaters is VERY GOOD. The thoughts of cooling using underground water reservoirs is one of the CHEAPEST CLEANEST methods of cooling the whole house around. If you spend the $$ on an energy efficient house now, while it is cheap, you will be much happier in the long run.
  • Smell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NWT ( 540003 ) <> on Sunday December 16, 2001 @05:28AM (#2710699) Homepage
    Hum, i'm a poor boy and have only 1 room for me and all my computers, so i'm running 4 computers in my room, i don't care about the noise, but sometimes when i haven't openend a window for a day or so you can smell the computers (electrostatic smell i think :) it doesn't smell that nice, sou i wouldn't heat the other rooms with the hot air from your server room!
  • by DuncanMurray ( 448670 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @08:00AM (#2710903) Homepage
    Another point to consider for home server rooms which are not in a basement, is to run all cables up the wall closest to the center of the house - this gives you maximum room when crawling around the ceiling.

    So when you are running new cables, or tracing faults or whatever, you aren't cramped down by the pitch of the roof.

    I've done this, and while it is *never* fun stuffing around with cables in a roof space, at least if its in the center of the house you can stand up and stretch.



  • STEN shelving units (Score:3, Informative)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @10:42AM (#2711000) Homepage Journal
    If you're on a limited budget (as most people are when putting together home data centers) I highly recommend the STEN shelving units from Ikea []. These are designed for workshop shelves, but they make excellent low-end computer racks. They're available in full and half sizes, and you can expand your rack horizontally by bolting them together (which is accomplished very easily using the included hardware). They're just the right size and shape for computer equipment, and since they're made of wood, you can easily screw things into the posts - such as power strips, small hubs, etc.

    I've got a setup like this in my basement and it's very nice -- attractive and functional.
  • be prepared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xah ( 448501 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @11:08AM (#2711048) Homepage
    Don't forget all of the things that add complexity to the situation.

    1. Problems already discussed: heat, electricity, noise.
    2. Electrostatic discharge. Ground all your equipment properly.
    3. Flood. Keep your servers a few inches off the floor for minor incidents. Keep a backup somewhere on higher ground for major incidents.
    4. Earthquakes, tornadoes. Keep your server in a position where it cannot fall over or hit the ground over if it tips. Consider buying a solid steel case to potential minimize crush damage.
    5. Kids. Get a door with a lock to keep kids from endangering themselves in your server room.
    6. Sanity. Get a network connection from your server room to some other location or locations in your house. At this location, put your main workstation, from which you can access all your servers remotely. That way you won't be stuck in the server room for too long.
  • Pollution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ClockworkPlanet ( 244761 ) on Sunday December 16, 2001 @02:32PM (#2711480)
    If I was moving into a brand new house, and was looking to build a server farm properly, I'd be ready - this is one of my favourite "What would you do if you won the Lottery?" answers, and I've spent a lot of time planning it.

    After looking at the server farm in work I figured the first thing to decide is "What the heck is all that stuff going to sound like in my house? It's pretty noisy at work, and the walls are made of breeze block and concrete. I can hear a motor hum through the wall when there's no other noise. In my house, after about 10:30pm there's no noise at all, it's silent. If I leave my desktop PC on overnight you can hear it.

    I'd certainly soundproof the walls, and if money was no object, I'd add insulation to keep the heat out. I'd then look at some kind of system to pull dust and fibles out of the air before they reached the equipment. We have an extraction system with filters that are regularly cleaned. Houses get pretty dusty, with the resultant build up all adding to the build up of heat.

    I reckon you'd want to sort all that before you started with the actual ecuipment.
  • by ColGraff ( 454761 ) <`moc.gnirpsdnim' `ta' `1noram'> on Sunday December 16, 2001 @03:59PM (#2711762) Homepage Journal
    I guess, if I did feel some perverse need for a server room, this is how I'd do it:

    Buy a used Lego Mindstorms set.

    Build a temerature sensor for the set. (Basically, just buy a thermistor from radioshack and hook it to a Lego sensor wire - it works like a light sensor.

    Build a lego robot that can open the window a crack when the temp. sensor detects a temp above a certain limit. Voila. Plus, this way you get the geek-out factor.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.