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Server Cooling in Listed Building

Last response: in Business Computing
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November 19, 2010 4:02:27 PM

Hello,

I am after any ideas or advice to solve a problem we have regards a new office and cooling. We are looking at moving office and have found a perfect location however it is a grade1 listed building (in UK). We are an media production studio and looking to install a selection of servers such as 2 domain controllers and 4 Dell Poweredge 2950s (dual quadcore Xeons) that will increase with 4-8 new servers of some sort that will be under heavy 90%+ load nearly all of the time (rendering)

The problem is the location of the servers. The coolest place in the building will be the old wine cellar/basement (approx 500 sqft). It is 90% below land level with a window at just above ground level and it does have a chimney that runs from the basement up through the other 2 floors

In the winter, the warm air could hopefuly rise out the chimney naturally, and although not ideal is a solution, however I dont know how to solve the cooling problem in the summer! The landlord has informed me that the wine cellar is the coolest location and doesnt get hot in the summer, however I am a bit reluctant to move and find I get problems!

I am looking for some sort of standalone solution that requires no permanent fixings (due to the Grade1 listing)

Has anyone any ideas?
November 22, 2010 11:53:30 AM

thanks for the idea, I have just been in contact with a friend who by all coincedence now works in Air conditioning for one of the UKs biggest installers. We are revisiting the building later in the week to see what can be done.

Hopefully there is no risk of flooding. I asked the same question and was told by the owner (who seemed very genuine and is an architect) that the building has never flooded. There are also several other architects and surveyors based in the same building so before hand I think I will have a chat to them as well for there opinions (although they do currently store documents and files down there).
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November 26, 2010 8:03:49 PM

ok, we went back yesterday and had a more thorough look at the wine cellar area and discussed with the owner the options. He seemed very knowledgeable and his thought was to clear the chimney that runs from the wine cellar to the roof 4 floors up and replace the vent van to blow air up the chimney (the other fireplaces connected to the chimney are all sealed and no longer in use).

The room is about 400 sqft and combine the vent/fan combination with removing a panel of glass from the opposite side of the room (but make sure it is protected to stop water coming in!), then the room should naturally vent the heat using something he described as the stack effect which relies on warm air rising naturally. The vent is at head height btw.

The fan would be connected to a thermostatic sensor to activate when the room goes above 20 degrees for example. If that failed to cool the servers, he suggests a wall mounted air conditioning unit that vents up the chimney although the concern is how much the chimney would vent and how much heat would stay down low. As long as the A/C unit is fitted there, it shouldnt cause any issues with regards the grade 1 listing requirements.

Apparently the room is naturally cool (it was a wine cellar after all) and even in the summer doesnt get warm, however the heat from our servers may change that!

Either way, he is keen to get the chimney cleared anyway and the fan that is currently fitted is old so that is being changed anyway. My plan if we take the office will be to test his idea a few weeks before we move in and setup a monitoring unit in a rack with one server to see what happens if the server stays at near full load for a week and then decide if the air con unit is necassary. I will probably then decide either way to get the A/C unit installed and ready incase it is necassary!
November 26, 2010 8:31:45 PM

sounds like a great solution. chimneys can create quite some air flow, that's what they are designed for to pull air.
December 2, 2010 5:40:39 PM

At my head office I use two portable air conditioning units to cool my server room down. I house the servers in a sound proof ventilated KELL systems cabinet. The AC's have a hot air hose which I have connected to an extraction fan on the wall. I couldn't install a proper wall mounted AC because its in a listed building too, an old Church in Birmingham!
December 3, 2010 2:29:02 AM

I'm curious about total room height, because 400 sq ft is a small footprint for this much heat, but if there's 9 foot ceilings or something it might help.
Here's another idea: if you know approximately how many watts your servers will dissipate in a worst case scenario, you could buy/borrow/rent some simple space heaters that are of equivalent wattage, put them in the room, fire them for three or four days and see what happens.
!