Plugging Into the Ideal Server Room Temperature and Humidity: Airflow and Insulation Tips

There was a time when the good old air conditioning unit was the most complex piece of technology in most houses, or, if not the most complex, then definitely the largest. These days, though, that’s almost never the case. I’m actually starting to see more and more homeowners who have entire rooms of their houses dedicated to technology. They have what we call server rooms, otherwise known as a space to house all of the excess tech that online businesses need to function. Most of these folks work from home, often in e-commerce or consulting, and a lot of the time they’ve converted a laundry room, extra bedroom, or some other sort of nook into a room for servers.

The reason I come across these folks in my work is that there’s a list of insulation to-dos to generate the ideal server room temperature and humidity, and if homeowners don’t follow them when they get their server room up and running, it almost always leads to equipment failure. Now, I’m the wrong guy to call about an overheating server, but my HVAC and insulation expertise makes me the exact right guy to call if you want to keep your server room so cool that overheating never becomes a problem.

Spare closets, converted bathrooms, and laundry rooms aren’t built with today’s heat-generating servers in mind, but if you follow the right advice you can make it so they can handle all your servers without the risk of overheating. In other words, today’s new home business problems call for modern airflow and HVAC solutions.

The Ideal Room Temperature for Simmering Servers

server room temperature issuesIf you put a half dozen servers in a small room, they’re going to generate heat—enough to noticeably make the room hotter. According to experts, ideal server room temperatures should stay between 50 and 82 degrees or you run the risk of the equipment being too hot or too cold. The optimal temperature is between 68 and 71 degrees, so when I advise homeowners on maintaining proper temperatures for their server rooms, I always aim for this range on the thermometer.

According to experts, ideal server room temperatures should stay between 50 and 82 degrees or you run the risk of the equipment being too hot or too cold.

The problem—and why I’d suggest calling in an HVAC expert to help here—is that you can’t just turn your AC up and expect that to be a viable server room cooling solution. Well, I guess you could, but you’d have to freeze the rest of your house in the process of lowering the temperature inside your server room as most AC units are not capable of cooling just one zone. Sure, your server room will get cold, but so will any other room with an open vent.

There are, fortunately, plenty of other ways to cool that space down. My recommended solutions include installing an exhaust fan, having a vent connected outside via your duct system, and adding insulation. All three of these things can keep the air in the room from becoming too hot, although, as I’ll explain below, they accomplish the task in different ways.

Server Room Cooling: Airflow Can Alleviate Humidity and High Temperatures

Making sure air can circulate in your home server room is key to keeping that space cool. Now, I know it’s a small space, otherwise you’d probably be using it for actual living and not just servers. But, you have to do a good job of making sure air can circulate around in there. So, start off by ensuring that the cold air coming from your vents is not being obstructed. It sounds obvious, but I’ve seen many homeowners who in their zeal to make the most of a small space, inadvertently block air vents.

…start off by ensuring that the cold air coming from your vents is not being obstructed.

The next air circulation-related step you want to look into is having an exhaust fan installed. Remember those old desktop computer towers from a few years back that used to have a fan in them that you could hear and see if you looked behind it? Well, that fan was there to blow the hot air out of your computer and into the open area nearby. The same idea applies here. A skilled HVAC technician can almost always help you install an exhaust fan in an effective and, depending on your home’s layout, unobtrusive locale. That fan will then blow the hot air out of your server room and into parts beyond.

A third solution, another for which I suggest bringing in a professional, is having extra vents installed. If your house is built in a way that allows for it, you can have a vent that funnels air outside. This is especially true if the room you’ve chosen to house your servers used to be a laundry room. For other rooms located further from the exterior of your house, you may need to install a vent that’s connected to the outside by ductwork. Either way this is a great option to give the heat that your servers generate a way to escape.

Server Room Insulation Keeps Equipment Humming

Insulation may seem counter-intuitive when it comes to helping vent heat from your server room, but in a region like Northern California where temperatures in the summer tend to soar into the 90s and 100s, it’s imperative that you also keep exterior heat out—especially if your server room is near the exterior of the house where air is likely to seep in from the outside.

So, let’s say you have a laundry room that’s poorly insulated as your server room. I’d recommend having an HVAC professional advise you on the best sort of insulation for making sure the walls in traditionally neglected rooms are just as well insulated as the rest of your house. That way, heat is no more likely to find it’s way into that room than any other along the exterior of your house.

And there you have it, your insulation and air flow to-dos for ideal server room temperature and humidity. Follow these suggestions and you’ll have a home server room where the air circulates freely, venting as it needs to into the outdoors. And, you’ll have insulated walls so heat can’t seep in.

Working at home or running your own business are both wonderful things. They’re even better when you’ve called an HVAC pro who can help you calibrate your server room temperature so your equipment doesn’t overheat. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but it’s hard to get work done when your technology isn’t working. Better insulation, airflow, and exhaust options can make sure things in your server room keep humming along.

Don’t take the risk of technology overheating in your stuffy home server room. Contact the HVAC pros at Bell Brothers today and check off the items on your insulation and airflow server room to-do list.

Image courtesy Unsplash user Corrine Kutz