Cool Your Servers With A Portable Air Conditioner

December 23, 2017 by  Filed under: Computer 

A room full of computers or a rack full of severs can create a lot of destructive unwanted heat. A portable air conditioner is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to effectively cool them.

Servers produce heat, sometimes they produce lots of heat. While this may not be an issue for a large company that archives its data in racks upon racks stored in a blindingly white clean room, most companies are not of that level. For most companies, even some ISPs, the servers can be located around the country and in the most humble of conditions.

The most common situation where server heat becomes an issue is the converted closet. As the company enters the online arena, it needs a lockable and secure environment that a storage closet provides. And while this may deter theft, it can put heat load on the servers themselves, sometimes leading to outages or even permanent failure.

A great way to cool servers and computer rooms is to use a portable air conditioner. A portable air conditioner sits upright on wheels that allow it to be moved from room to room and vents its heat using flexible air ducts. This is desirable over traditional window units as no large holes need to be cut into the converted closet, and the moisture from condensation is less problematic.

Before purchase or installation, there are some things that should be understood. Any refrigeration or air conditioner works by making part of itself hot and part of itself cold. When part of the machine is cold, there will be condensation from contact with the air. A portable air conditioner works efficiently by taking this condensed moisture and spraying it on the hot part of itself, causing the machinery to work less hard. As a side benefit, the condensed water is then converted to vapor and exhausted with the rest of the hot air.

There are two hose configurations. The single hose configuration has an exhaust hose only. This means that for every bucket full of air that is exhausted outside, and bucket full of air must infiltrate the building to replace it. The double hose configuration pulls air from the outside (or outside the closet) and uses the air it pulls in as the exhaust air. Interior air is circulated and re-circulated over the cooling unit, keeping the same air cool.

The size of the portable ac unit is not that much of an issue and for a server closet 9,000 to 12,000 BTU will be plenty. There must be enough available amperage in the existing electrical service to power the air conditioner. A 12K BTU unit can use between 9 and 12 amps and a large 14,000 BTU unit can require its own circuit of 20 amps. Checks should be done in advance of installation.

Venting is vital. Venting cannot be done downward, it cannot be vented into a suspended ceiling, nor can it be vented into the rest of the offices. If an area is not fit to vent a clothes dryer into it is not fit to vent a portable air conditioner into! The hot air should be within ten feet of its exhaust point, and vented to the outside. Using an exhaust hose of extended length or without an upward angle is not recommended. Portable air conditioners are very inexpensive for what they are. If the closet cannot be vented, a portable cooling unit cannot be used. It is often far cheaper to build a closet against an exterior wall than to buy a far more expensive method of cooling.

There is no such thing as a portable air conditioner that will never need to have its internal water tank emptied in all situations and in all applications. A Louisiana summer for example is as humid as you think it is, and the portable ac may have more water than it can expend against its own heat. When installing the portable air conditioner, keep it where it can either be drained away (most units will include a hose for this purpose) or where it can be easily accessed.

Portable air conditioners should NOT be slaved to an external thermostat and must be allowed to run in the fan only mode once it is done working as an air conditioner for a cooling session. If an external thermostat is used, the unit’s fan is not effectively cooling itself off and exhausting the hot air it has produced.

Similarly, if the thermostat of the unit itself is compromised, it will create a large imbalance between the internal and external temperatures and may cause the portable ac unit to quickly turn itself on and off in an effort to regulate its internal temperature.

Once operational within the computer closet, the top of the closet should have a simple vent to allow heat to escape upwards as it is produced. The cold air produced from the portable air conditioner should not blow directly on any electronics, but should be allowed to circulate into the general area. If that is not possible, a guard of plastic should be installed. Directly cooling a computer or server in this manner could result in condensation within the electronics themselves.

If used as it is intended, a portable air conditioner is an efficient and cost-effective way of keeping computers and servers running at their safest and most efficient!

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