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Would A Tiny Flow Sensor Help Detect Cooling Issues

Last response: in Components
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June 3, 2009 8:13:45 PM

Hello All,

I am new at this Forum. I also just joined a flow sensor company.

As I was from the IT field, I remembered that air cooling had always been an issue.

Since fans and filters can fail, and air outlets can be blocked (especially for notebooks), my questions are:

1. IS THERE A NEED FOR A TINY (.5" BY 1") AIR FLOW SENSOR IN THE PC'S, NOTEBOOKS, AND SERVERS, TO MONITOR THE AIR FLOW CONSTANTLY, AND TO POP WARNINGS IF AIRFLOW IS RESTRICTED OR STOPPED?

2. IS, SAY $20 RETAIL, A WORTHWHILE PRICE TO PAY FOR SUCH A FUNCTION? WHAT IS A REASONABLE PRICE?

3. WHERE DO YOU THINK IT SHOULD IT BE PLACED TO WORK THE BEST? ON FANS, HEAT SINK, OR AIR INLET/OUTLET?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
June 3, 2009 8:28:41 PM

I don't know. An airflow sensor may be a solution looking for a problem. Motherboards already have a programmable temperature alarm to warn of a cooling failure.
June 3, 2009 8:42:16 PM

1) Air flow monitoring in a laptop is problematic. There's a lot of strange airflow paths and turbulences that normal airflow sensors will have problems interfacing with well. Also sensor in the flow stream will add flow resistance which will reduce total flow a bit reducing cooling. And on top of this the sensor will take up space which is at premium in a laptop. The best way in my opinion is just to use thermal diodes in the major components.

2) $20 for a flow sensor in a laptop is too much where pennies count and there are lower cost ways to get the same information.

3) At this point the best place for the air flow sensor is nowhere, it doesn't belong in a laptop.

Of course these are only my opinions but I do design and build all kinds of electronic equipment in my job. Since you just started your new job, you need to talk to the mechanical and electrical designs at laptop manufacturers to see if airflow sensors even make sense.

(BTW, gratz on your new job)
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June 3, 2009 8:45:33 PM

Hello Siliconvideo,

Thank you so much for your very valuable response. I can see your points.
June 3, 2009 8:47:33 PM

jsc said:
I don't know. An airflow sensor may be a solution looking for a problem. Motherboards already have a programmable temperature alarm to warn of a cooling failure.



Thank you. Would the damage be already made when the temperature is too high? Therefore a reduced flow is an earlier indicator?
June 3, 2009 9:18:25 PM

Temp warnings and auto shutdown usually occur before the CPU absolute thermal limit
June 3, 2009 9:18:39 PM

The temp sensor goes off before the thermal threshold is reached.
June 3, 2009 9:22:15 PM

PsyKhiqZero said:
Temp warnings and auto shutdown usually occur before the CPU absolute thermal limit



Could damage been done already to the chips by then though?
June 3, 2009 9:22:49 PM

B-Unit said:
The temp sensor goes off before the thermal threshold is reached.


Thank you.
!