Heat Management in your equipment rack is crucial.

Any respected home technology professional should be implementing some kind of heat management system into their rack design. Every piece of hardware plugged-in to your electricity supply will produce heat. With enough kit in your rack, this heat can add up to a pretty impressive heat source. The problem is, electrical equipment like the hardware we install for clients does not like excessive heat, and so we are tasked to keep it cool – or at least within specified parameters.

Heat is measured in British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/hr). 12,000 BTU/hr requires 1 ton of air conditioning (400CFM on most units). As home technology professionals we must first consider removing the heat from the rack, and then removing that heat from the room – this is sometimes a step that is overlooked, but unless you can remove the heat from the room then everything else is a waste of time.

Passive, Mechanical or Active Cooling

There are essentially three methods of cooling the equipment in a rack. Passive and mechanical methods enable airflow through the rack, allowing cool air in the bottom of the rack to rise up through the rack and out the top.

Passive convection cooling is exactly that, simply allowing this flow of cool air to rise up through the rack naturally. Vents at the bottom fo the rack allow cool air in, and further vents at the top of the rack allow the warm air out.

Mechanical cooling employs extraction fans in the rack to pull air through the rack and increase the air flor and therefore the cooling.

Active cooling is for the hottest racks that require cool air to actively cool the air in the rack space so that the ambient air that is being drawn through the components within the rack is cool.

The amount of heat generated and the corresponding amount and method of cooling is something that your home technology professional should be calculating for you.

Where should your rack live?

Do not just assume a small cupboard under the stairs, or a corner of the loft space is going to work. The smaller the space that your rack is housed in, the quicker the ambient air in that space will heat up. You then find that the rack is drawing warm air into the bottom and is unable to cool itself. A loft space, while it could be large and open, will get hot in the summer. You also need to consider access to the rack. Your home technology engineer will need to service your smart home system, and from time to time something may need a power cycle, and so access to your rack is an important factor to consider. A plant room is ideal or basement. If you can secure it, a garage also works well.

We usually suggest the rack is paced against an external wall so that the warm air can be exhausted to the outside, and if necessary cool air can be drawn in through a duct in the wall.

For more information, there is a white paper that goes into detail on the Middle Atlantic website here.

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