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What's the Proper Temperature for a Server Room? 84

Izzard asks: "As a network engineer, I sometimes have to spend many hours in other people's server rooms. One in particular has a good few servers, DVD jukebox, plenty of monitors and switches etc. It's a thick, stone-walled room with a big door. It would get very, very warm were it not for the two huge air conditioning units in there. Someone has decided that these units will be set to maintain a constant air temperature of 17-18 deg. C (62-64F). After an hour or so of sitting in the air stream from these units my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type. Now my guess is that it would be fine to set the units to maintain, say, 21-22 deg. C (70-71F) to make it more comfortable for those of us who have to work in there. This argument comes up a lot, and my position is that the room doesn't need to be refrigerated, *per se*...it only needs to be prevented from overheating. Consequently I maintain that a *consistent* temperature of 'pleasant' for the room is almost as good a consistent temperature of 'a bit nippy'. Is there a definitive answer to this?"
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What's the Proper Temperature for a Server Room?

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  • by MattCohn.com ( 555899 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:16PM (#4534549)
    ...at the radio station I work at, the main studio containes a bunch of sensitive electronic equipment like OnAir Consoles, computers, standalone editing stations... and that room is kept 24-7 year round at a constant 71*F. Not too cold to stay in for extended periods of time, and not too hard on the AC unit, but keeps the equipment running in great condition.
  • Dude (Score:5, Funny)

    by RedWolves2 ( 84305 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:16PM (#4534552) Homepage Journal
    After an hour or so of sitting in the air stream from these units my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type.

    You type with your legs that is awesome.
  • 72 (Score:2, Informative)

    by toygeek ( 473120 )
    I have a server room w/ over 100 2u/4u units installed, and numerous routers/switches etc. This room isn't optimal, because it has a false ceiling installed, but it does have its own A/C. We keep it at 72. Our other server room also stays at 72, but its noticably cooler in there because the ceiling is over 20 feet high. Heat rises ya know?

    So, unless you have VERY sensitive equipment, or some other special reason for keeping it that cold, 72 is fine.
    • By false cieling, you mean a panel/grid system, you should most defenitly remove the panels and open up the plenum space. This not only allows the heat to rise more efficently, but it makes your room look cool. Make sure to check fire codes first.
      • If you don't own the building many lease contracts don't let you do that. Check your lease before you get the building management pissed off at you.
  • The server room is maintained for the comfort of the servers, not for your comfort. The only reason I can think of not to keep it too cold would be condensation and maybe stress on parts like the hard drives.

    Otherwise, keep it at 65 degrees, and either learn to deal with it, or learn to bring a sweater with you.
    • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:35PM (#4534642) Journal

      Otherwise, keep it at 65 degrees, and either learn to deal with it, or learn to bring a sweater with you.

      Hey, c'mon now! Give him some advice he can actually use! He specifically said "After an hour or so of sitting in the air stream from these units my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type." You should be advising him to "learn to wear pants" instead!

      GMD

    • We keep ours' at 68F, over 73F, the AS/400 begins to ask questions and at 80F, so I have been told, it will begin to power itself down.

      We have had a condesation problem, though, when the temp. in the room got over 75F, and any rapid changes cause the series of units we have in the room to strain...

      And before you ask, this building opened in June of this year.

  • I'm a server admin at Hotmail. We keep our server room at about 300 degrees F. They don't call it HOT mail for nothin'.
  • by j.e.hahn ( 1014 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:31PM (#4534623)
    ...stay out of the data center. While I can't backup with studies, or any hard scientific evidence, I can support that with experience. A real server room will have hot spots, sometimes 20+ degrees over the mean temperature the room (especially poorly ventilated ones. Big ACs don't equal good ventilation, btw.)

    These hot spots can (and are often) murder for server farms. Take a page from the experts (i.e. big colo firms): keep your data center cold, and have lots of airflow near the racks.

    This isn't necessarily always true, and a small data center can probably afford to not be frigid. But if you've got a lot of money in your data center which would you prefer: big, expenive AC bills or more expensive outages on very expensive hardware?

    • As for those hot spots, I noticed that often those big square fans fit well over a 19 inch rack...or between the back side of two rows of racks. while this is not optimal, it could solve the problem of airflow temporarly. I agree, colder is better. don't do the 'cool' thing and have your 'office' in the corner of the server room, put it outside, so you can enjoy heat while doing admin work. As for hardware maintenence, as said above, wear a sweater. www.sierra.com has some good picks
  • I did a search on google like any good nerd would do to answer a question and I came a across a bunch of hosting companies that advertise their server room temperatures like GlobalCon [globalcon.net]. They all seem to be in the range of 70 - 72 Degrees.

    hth
  • by stuuf ( 587464 ) <[su.idarcimota] [ta] [ds+cas]> on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:34PM (#4534637) Homepage Journal
    4.2 kelvin. liquid helium. turbo charge your servers with superconductivity.
  • Oh, boy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jester998 ( 156179 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:40PM (#4534664) Homepage
    "Is there a definitive answer to this?"

    Buddy... this is SLASHDOT.

  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:42PM (#4534672) Journal

    "This argument comes up a lot, and my position is that the room doesn't need to be refrigerated, *per se*...it only needs to be prevented from overheating. Consequently I maintain that a *consistent* temperature of 'pleasant' for the room is almost as good a consistent temperature of 'a bit nippy'."

    You have to realize that management isn't too excited to take chances on ruined server equipment because of your belief. However, if you were to state that you are so confident that a constant temperature of 'pleasant' wouldn't damage the servers that you will offer to pay for any overheating damage done out of your own salary (minus the cost savings realized by using less air conditioning), they might be willing to turn down the AC.

    If you're not willing to take chances with your money, how can you expect management to take changes with the company's? Even if some knowledable slashdotter here can direct you towards some written proof of your claims, don't expect management to go "By jove, you've been right all along! Since this paper says so, we'll turn down the AC immediately!"

    GMD

    • Maybe the company should put equal concern into keeping their employees healthy. I know that when I am constantly working in a static sub-65 degree room I tend to get colds frequently. I don't mind cold in spurts, in fact I love the cold outside, but not constant.

      Petition for them to create a proper work environment for you if they won't raise the temperature. Working in the NOC sucks.
    • I'll second that. I've seen the AC fail in a server room, and the temperature climbs with every passing minute as hot as you let it until you improvise some ventilation or fix the AC. A colder room buys you more time to do either before the heat starts damaging equipment or causing CPUs to lockup.

      I worked in a cold server room for a time and had the same problem you did. I understand where you're coming from. Being too cold to type is the least of your worries. You could catch a serious cold if you follow the contagion with a couple hours spent shivering in the server room.

      - Find the drafts in the server room and reposition yourself so you aren't directly in its path and avoid the "Wind-Chill Factor".
      - Double-up your socks.
      - Wear a t-shirt under your dress-shirt, which will layer your clothing.
      - Wear a hat in the server room. Keep the hat in your bag or pocket at other times. Scarves work too and give you that Tom Baker idiot-savant look.
      - Go to a store that caters to hunters and buy some thermal underwear. The good kind looks more like medieval tights than that white pleated junk they sell at K-Mart. BE CAREFUL: when wearing thermals, you build up a lot of static electricity. Pay attention to ESD.
      - Shiver while you type. The motion will raise your body temperature a bit.
      - Eat something with a lot of calories before going in the server room. Metabolism creates body heat as a waste product.
      - Drinking hot liquid doesn't work. The warmth doesn't last, and it makes you have to pee. But hey, whatever gets you out of that freezing server room, right?
      - Gain some badly needed weight, pal. Cold doesn't bother heavier people as badly. Score some Carl's Jr. coupons and get to work.

      If you're still cold after all that, then yes, maybe the room is too cold. But probably it's not, and the client is moderating your complaints as "Whiny" and "Wuss". Just quietly solve the problem on your end and protect your own health, and then you won't need to bother your clients with "I can't work under these conditions!!!"-type complaints.

      • - Gain some badly needed weight, pal. Cold doesn't bother heavier people as badly. Score some Carl's Jr. coupons and get to work.


        If it were only weight you might have a valid point. I have gained 35-40 lbs in the last 5 years to no avail. I am perhaps more suceptible to cold server rooms now than I was 5 years ago. It's a metabolism thing, not (as much) a blubber thing.

        Yes, I see your point. I suggest you wear a hat.

        Advising anyone to gain weight is misguided. At best.

        P.S. Carl's jr. is evil. Ever notice their advertising? They ALWAYS depict an animal eating with it's mouth open, for the sake of saying their customers/potential customers are all animals, therefore should be addressed on an anamalistic level, i.e. visible noisy mastication.

        Not even McD's/BK sink that low!
      • Some of your suggestions may be good, but he's talking about a 17C room, not a 0C one!

        I mean, the big problem over there wouldn't be cold in itself but the cold air flows and the passage between the heated outside and the server room, as these are the ones that could really cause harm.

        Common warm clothes are usually enough to stand even colder temperature: the main thing you should take care of is not to leave uncovered spots, expecially the head and neck. An hat will help, but a scarf would be really better (expecially if you don't have long hairs)

        For the hands-so-cold-you-can't-type part, you can try to have some computer blowing its warm air toward the keyboard (there are hot spot in the room, so why not taking advantage of them).

    • GuyMannDude said:
      However, if you were to state that you are so confident that a constant temperature of 'pleasant' wouldn't damage the servers that you will offer to pay for any overheating damage done out of your own salary (minus the cost savings realized by using less air conditioning), they might be willing to turn down the AC.
      I'm all for accountability, but proposing they take any losses out of his salary is a bit extreme. It's not like they're going to give him all the money they save if everything works out ok. A simple return-on-investement analysis should do the trick for a management team that is responsive to reasonable employee input. If that doesn't work, he's got bigger problems anyway.

      Regards,
      Stephen
  • by fini ( 571717 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:44PM (#4534677)
    At least datacom equipements. PC and big irons may be a bit more flimsy. But, for what I know of a BIG vendor of datacom gear, all the products are specified to run from 5C to 40C and are actually tested at -5C (23F) and 55C (131F) ambient for weeks in a row. The nominal operating temperature is assumed to be 25C.

    So from 17C to 40C, there's quite some room. Yet, watch out. Those temperature are specified at the cooling inlet of the equipment. With lateral cooling, the gear at the wrong end of a row of racks may suck heated air from the other racks and see much higher temperature than ambient. That's bad room design ;-)

    IMHO, the guy who spec'ed 17C is overdoing it (and padding the wallet of the local utility). 25C should be OK.
  • After an hour or so of sitting in the air stream from these units my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type. Now my guess is that it would be fine to set the units to maintain, say, 21-22 deg. C (70-71F) to make it more comfortable for those of us who have to work in there. This argument comes up a lot, and my position is that the room doesn't need to be refrigerated, *per se*...it only needs to be prevented from overheating. Consequently I maintain that a *consistent* temperature of 'pleasant' for the room is almost as good a consistent temperature of 'a bit nippy'."

    Perhaps management is a little reluctant to gamble based on the "guess" of someone who makes exaggerations like "my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type".

    GMD

  • by Alrescha ( 50745 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:47PM (#4534692)
    The air temperature of the room simply has to be low enough to keep the equipment heathy. With good airflow between equipment, 70 degrees F could be fine. Without proper airflow, that same temperature could create hot spots that exceed the equipments specifications, bringing on early failure.

    One problem with excessive cooling is that maintaining humidity becomes difficult. Equipment in a machine room needs humidity. Humidity means more efficient transfer of heat to air, and helps to keep static electricity from become a problem.

    Too cold can be as much a problem as too hot. In the early 90's, IBM had to specify *minimum* air temperature limits to keep some disk drives happy.

    A.
    • yeah, i remember once as a kid when we came back from a family trip and i wanted to play a game we had bought on that trip(we bought both, elite for pc and rick dangerous wheee!!!!), but the pc we had at that time(like, one of those amstrads 8mhz xt's,640k+20mbyte,horrible incompatible mouse), the computer wouldnt start, the computer room was (for the time of the trip) unheated and it was like -25C at the time we returned home.

      it would start next morning though.

      and i imagine that you're absolutely correct, 25c should be plenty enuff. and harddrives and things that actually have moving parts with lube somewhere i kinda imagine not liking being too cold.

      the original asker could use one argument though, he could argument that the room should be kept at the same temperature as the rest of the building to prevent condension happening somewhere when you open the door to the server room and 'hot'(normal) air from elsewhere enters the room.
    • A server room should be cold enuff to make yer nipples go hard...
  • Boo hoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flikx ( 191915 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:49PM (#4534695) Homepage Journal
    Wear a sweater. Server rooms don't need to be the same temperature and central Africa. Get a grip.

    I pay close to $120 a month to keep my apartment 62F year round, and I save a huge amount of money because I don't have to constantly repair and replace equipment.
    • Re:Boo hoo (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:03PM (#4534749)
      I pay close to $120 a month to keep my apartment 62F year round, and I save a huge amount of money because I don't have to constantly repair and replace equipment.

      Really? I too keep my apartment at 62 F year round, and I've been having problems with some of my more sensitive equipment. In particular, I'm noticing some shrinkage. Do you have any advice?
    • I pay close to $120 a month to keep my apartment 62F year round, and I save a huge amount of money because I don't have to constantly repair and replace equipment.

      I think it really depends on the person whether or not low temperatures are troublesome or not. I know some people who love the cold, and I know some people who hate it. 62F is a little cold for my tastes, especially when I get out of the shower.

      Here's a solution, if management is unyielding about the cold: put VNC on all the servers. That way, you can access the servers from outside the server room, and it'll be just like you're there, only you'll be warmer, because you won't be in the server room. Unless there's some reason you have to be *in* the server room, it's probably best to manage all of the computers remotely anyways.

      <side comment>$120 seems awfully expensive to keep a place heated to 62F </side comment>
  • I've never understood the need for super-cold machine rooms. 70F is well within the healthy operating parameters of most computers.

    Let's also not forget that air conditioners aren't always good for the mechine: They increase the level of static electricity in the area, and can blows dust around if don't have an airfilter in that room. Dust and static buildup can harm the machines more then at 70F temperature.

    As another poster pointed out, the only good reason to keep an AC at a really low temperature is to deal with the hotspots. It may be 60F at your desk, but the big server is sitting in a corner far from the AC, and it's case is 80F. But that's just a result of poor air flow, and can probably be resolved with a few fans and a few air ducts.
    • I've never understood the need for super-cold machine rooms

      Part of the problem often is hot spots. As humans, we often are in the well circulated portions of the server room. These get good air flow are often very chilly.

      Other parts of the room, perhaps inside a server cabinet, perhaps inside the CPU case can get warmer than when you're standing. This is why good air flow is key in a building a solid server room.

      I think in most cases it's low risk to raise it a few notches, but the consequences of being wrong are pretty high. (I.e. someone high up gets fired.) Hence, it's unlikely to change.

      You have to learn to pick your battles. Picking one that can solved just as easily with a sweater or fingerless gloves probably isn't the one to fight.

      -Bill
  • I think persuading people that the server room climate control should be set to "cozy" would be an uphill battle. Spend some money on a good KVM switch (rackables can handle a dozen inputs and more) and put the main keyboard, mouse, and monitor in an adjacent room (which would then have to be secured) or make a small terminal room inside the server room (which would be as secure as the server room); that way, the server room can be as cold as your boss wants and you can stay as warm as you like. This will require the allocation of space and budget -- hard battles to fight, too -- but is more likely to succeed.

  • Who cares about constant? Play with the thermostat and get your your spray bottle so you can create pretty graphs [ucdavis.edu] like these.
  • by Louis_Wu ( 137951 ) <chris.cantrall@gmail.com> on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:27PM (#4534851) Journal
    HVAC is about economics, estimates, & a wee bit o' engineering.
    • The economics include the initial cost of the system, the continuing cost of energy & maintenance, and the cost of failure - all of the servers overheating and the network going down.
    • The estimates include the heat load (heat energy output of the equipment), the system effieciency over time, system neglect, & management cheapness.
    • The engineering includes doing all the math to determine many of the previous factors, & compensating for all of those unknowns with a factor of safety. :)
    Is there a definitive answer to this?

    The answer to your question(s): Get an HVAC engineer to look the system over, and tell you if the existing AC is overkill. (You might want to be sure that she doesn't think that she'll get the contract for any additional work needed. :)

    'Course, this might all be quite accademic. The reason for the chill might be that your boss's brother has the contract, or that your boss had a bad experience with a server catching on fire. Then it's not engineering, it's psychology. :)

  • Low 70's (Score:4, Informative)

    by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:52PM (#4534941)

    Most of the labs I've built or worked in, we've set up the ACs somewhere around 70-72 degrees. It's plenty cold while still leaving a small amount of headroom. The headroom is useful in case there's a sudden influx of heat and it takes a while to restabilize the temperature. Can't really predict what sorts of wierd things might cause that - a crapload of new equipment, an A/C unit going out of service for an hour, etc, etc..

    It's very important to get your humidity correct as well. If the humidity is too low, static buildup becomes easier and static damage more frequent. If it gets too high, corrosion occurs faster. Computers like to be in the middle, if I remember right the ideal for most machines is around 35% humidity? It's been a while, that might be off by a bit.

    Don't forget the whole BTUs thing. All your equipment will have a sticker or manual (or call the company) saying how many BTU of heat it puts out at max. Add them all up and make sure you have enough A/C capacity to account for the BTUs during a failure scenario (e.g. Buy 3 AC units that can handle 1/2 the desired BTU, so you have N+1 redundancy). Be sure to estimate the future as best you can in the BTU calculations - replacing A/C units when upgrading new servers in a fully loaded production room can be a bitch.

    Computers like stability too, so try to set it up such that the humidity and temperature stay constant while all your gear is running. If they're wobbling up and down throughout the day or week, you need to fix it. You can buy cheap chart recorders for this, they drag a pen over a graph and show you a temperature line for a week or more. Assuming your A/C is adequate for the BTUs, the wobbling is most likely from bad airflow design.

    Airflow design can be a black art, so you might want to get a professional. In general, most datacenter-class machines suck cold air from the bottom and/or front and exhaust out the top and/or back. Space out your vent tiles, too many too clsoe together can shunt air away from the inlets on your equipment. But by all means place vent tiles here and there in the empty areas to even out the room.

    And if you're looking for professionals to do these kinds of things, up to and including designing and building new datacenters from scratch, I can't recommend IBM Global Services high enough. They really kick ass at these things. It almost makes up for AIX sucking so bad :)
    • Re:Low 70's (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 )
      35 is too low. 50 percent is more like it. Especially when you have a big production printer in the room. If it's two low, you get static. If it's too high, then you have the paper curling around rollers and stuff. Computers and printers should be around 50. 50 cuts risk of static and problems with paper curling.

      • Hmm I've never had to deal with printers in my places, so I've never heard of the paper curl thing, interesting. I could've swore it was below 50 though, but like I said, it's been a while since I've been involved at that level. Now I'm all off in software, I really miss doing the hardware stuff myself and building out things like this :(
  • I can understand the infrequent 10-15 minutes to pop a cd in to install software, or to check on a switch, but you are frequently spending more than an hour in there? what on earth are you doing?

    are you pulling cable or filling racks with hardware? then you need to dress warmly.

    if not, have you considered asking your clients if you can use a desk while you work?

    keep in mind that the noise generated in a datacenter is *much* worse for you than the mildly cool temp, so you have other larger problems if you are spending hours at a time in a datacenter. (not to mention the terrible feng shui!)

  • After an hour or so of sitting in the air stream from these units my legs go numb and fall off and I can't type.

    Sounds to me like you need to learn how to type with your hands.

    At a company I worked for, we bought 50 Crystal PC's. At the time, they were about $12k each and we could fit 4 of them in a 5U space, which was smaller than anything on the market at the time. After about 3 months of using them in production, hard drives, procs or memory failed in about half of them. Needless to say, we were pissed and we called our sales rep and complained mentioning that they probably didn't have proper cooling. He said "There's no way that's the problem, we've tested them on Mars." Anyway, we yanked them all out of production and replaced them with Dells after that.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There's no way that's the problem, we've tested them on Mars

      I hope you replied, "That's funny, cause if you don't fix them they're goin in Uranus"

      Thanks, I'm here all week...
  • Data center temperatures are maintained for the servers. Your needs are not a factor. Wear a coat. I've snuggled up to disk arrays for the warmth many time while doing long stints in our DC. A friend once worked in the computer center onboard a Destroyer. They would keep that room near freezong, because the machines would last that much longer if the HVAC failed during battle. Imagine 32deg at your desk and summer in the persian gulf outside!
  • by QuietRiot ( 16908 ) <cyrus@@@80d...org> on Friday October 25, 2002 @10:16PM (#4535021) Homepage Journal
    Set it to where it's comfortable, keep the monitors off when you're not in there. 77 deg F.

    If you want to get more complicated, monitor the inside of the boxes and just keep dropping ambient till you hit your target (of temperature inside the case).

    You'll save money, keep your equipment cool, and be able to work in there comfortably.
  • by behrman ( 51554 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @10:39PM (#4535075)
    I've been in a good number of very large data centres (both colo and in-house), and I have yet to see one that is designed for the comfort of humans. Fact is, once the box is installed, you really don't have any good reason to wander in there. In fact, there is a large manufacturing facility in the Pittsburgh area which will not let you on the floor unless you have a valid change control ticket.

    That having been said, you data centre is going to have to be at whatever temperature the equipment needs. So, if you've got several racks of Clariion, you're going to need to pump more air in than if you're just running a couple racks of PCs. Sometimes, in order to keep some peices of equipment cool, you need to pump so much air that the rest of the DC is cooler. I was in a DC that was comfortably at about 70 or so before they installed a few racks of storage gear. That gear started getting temp alarms until they cranked the thermostat down to 65. (And that wasn't a result of the equipment being too far out from the AC. One of the units was only a few floor tiles away).

    Keeping your DC around 65 or 70 is probably your best bet. You could play with it, by bringing the temperature up a little bit and seeing what breaks, but that's not real smart. Wear heavy clothing if you have to into the DC, but primarily you should avoid going in there unless you absolutely can't avoid it. That's not workspace, that's equipment space.

    On a more amusing note... I worked for a very small company once which had some PCs in the data centre which ran a CTI application. There were these two women that refused to do their work from their desk and insisted in working at the rack in the DC. The room was pretty well packed wall-to-wall -- when I had to get in to do physical cable moves, or server installs, or what-have-you, I was forever tripping over these two. The solution was simple: I cited an increased amount of hardware in the room and brought the temp down to the lowest setting. They found it so hard to work while trying to keep their elbows over their chests, they finally went back to their desks and worked from there. There *can* be advnatages to having an overly-cold DC.
  • ... Set to exactly 68 degrees, and should not go
    above 75 degrees under any circumstance. Should
    also not go below 60 degrees, preferentially.

    This issue has been hashed out, and best current
    practices have been defined. Best practice is 68F.
  • Remember, the goal isn't to keep the room cold, it's to keep the servers from overheating. It may be 61 on the thermostat, but go stick your hand behind one of the servers and it'll probably be 10-15 degrees warmer. And it's hotter still inside the case.

    That's the real motivation, I suspect. If you want a semi-definitive answer, you could use the thermal monitoring software that probably came with the servers to see how hot they are. Then raise the temperature gradually, watching how the server temperatures change. If you have lots of money to throw at this, you could buy one of those, uh... heat sensors, whatever they're called. I know they use them on tires to look for defects, wear patterns, and so on. They probably have ones that will work on computer-type objects too.

  • The simple answer is the colder the better. Make it as low as you can tolerate.

    One thing to do to make it very cold but comfortable for humans is to put the computer machinery (CPU's, GPU's, hard-drives, etc) in one room, and terminals in another, where the users sit.
    • by kcornwell ( 555464 ) <deduction.gmail@com> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @12:45AM (#4535520) Homepage
      I used to work as a HVAC tech at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. As such a good portion of the equipment we maintained is for computer rooms (including a Cray system).

      From the HVAC viewpoint, two important factors are the heat load vs. capacity and the design of cooling equipment.

      Air conditioning units loose compressors frequently due to "slugging". Slugging is what happens when the refrigerant is not fully boiled off as it leaves the evaporator and returns to the compressor. If liquid reaches the cylinder of the compressor, the reed valves get bent (in a reciprocating compressor) rendering it useless. New "scroll" compressors can deal with this a bit better however, they too will fail in some circumstances. Simply put, the warmer the room, the more likely that all the refrigerant is boiled off before it reaches the compressor and the accumulator. With the room chilled to colder temps, the refrigerant may not boil off fully due to the small temperature differential between return air temp and discharge air temp. chances go up in the potential problems that can occur. This directly relates to the life expectancy of the compressor. While high quality air conditioning units are designed against such conditions with accumulators and suction pressure regulators, a regular air conditioner typically has no "anti-slugging" devices because they are designed to run under very specific conditions (outdoor 70-100+ and 72-82 F indoor temps. (something to keep in mind if you are thinking installing a run of the mill residential/commercial air conditioner unit in your server room to save money).

      BTW, over sizing the equipment can be just as bad as under sizing. Oversize the equipment and it will short-cycle rapidly thus wearing out the mechanical and electrical components, humidity control issues, and slugging. /kc
  • What are you doing typing in the server room? Rack your gear and get the F out. You should admin them via some sort of remote access. The air conditioning is there for the servers, not you. Go home and SSH while naked.
  • 60 degrees and a sign that forbids people from entering the room.
  • The probelm isn't the temperature necissarily, but the air flow. You are correct that ~70 degrees should be OK, but can you keep it 70 degrees everywhere in the room? Unlikely. It would take alot of fans pointing in the right direction. I'd rather have it too cold than too loud. I don't know about you...

    Most server rooms/labs are chilled well below 70 degrees to make sure that no crucial point in the room goes above ~70 degrees. Even in our lab where it's 65 degrees all the time it was still ~80 degrees behind the rack of alphas.
  • Remote Use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unixbob ( 523657 )
    Why do you even need to be in the server room?

    It's a server room, a room for servers - not for people.

    Aside from changing backup tapes, or power cycling servers, there is no reason for you to need to be in the server room.

    We have 2 server rooms, one in a room 10 feet from us and another that is 30 miles away. We have to do 50% of our admin remotely and it isn't a problem. Instead of altering the server room from it's original purpose, why don't you change your working practices and find a more appropriate location for your work.
  • It's the best place to be in the summer 'cuz it's cool, and again in the winter 'cuz it's warm.


    But you shouldn't be spending a lot of time in your datacenter in the first place. If you are, wear hearing protection! That low rumble for a couple hours a day over the course of a year will do far more damage to your hearing than 2 loud rock concerts.

  • Two points.

    I have been shown by the engineer for one of the major disk manufacures graph of failure against disk case temperature. It was a deep U with a minimum at 20C, but a "sweet area" from about 15C to 30C. Outside this range, the failure rate rose fast in both directions. Bear in mind that is disk case temperature. - the disk will probably be inside some form of an enclosure and generates quite a lot of heat itself, so will be well above ambient. So if I was thinking only of the welfare of the disk, I would chioll the room to 15C, with the idea that this leaves the disk casing at 200-25C, the optimum temperature.

    However, you should be asking why you have to work, sitting, in the server room for periods of an hour or so. Of course you have to go in to rack and wire, restart etc. But surely any system system should be arranged so it can be accessed from outside the server room. There are so many different ways of remote accessing a computer, I cannot believe tha an enlightened employer cannot implement one or another.
  • When I worked at a large paper printing company, we had a plating room where we would create the digital printing plates (similar to a huge, flat laser printer, except it takes aluminium plates with a photo-sensitive layer). The unit was used to expose 42" plates with the image for the printing process.

    That room was kept downright FROSTY. More than 5 minutes in there made me uncomfortable. It was nice to pop in there in the summer when the production floor would hit upwards of 40 C.

    We tried keeping it warmer, but we starting running into problems with the plate writer locking up.
  • room temperature!

Only God can make random selections.

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