How many of us have a home network rack in a closet someplace and leave the door open (or just off) to help keep things cool? Has your home lab been tucked away under the stairs so you don’t need to hear it? Or is it in the open so it stays cool and the noise drives you (or your other half) nuts? Well, let me tell you about what I am using to keep my home rack cool in a closet.
For me, I have a bunch of Ubiquiti devices (future post), Synology NAS, Cable Modem, UPS’, and some Intel NUC servers in my home rack. I also have a decent amount of lab Cisco and Juniper gear that I spin up when necessary ( I use an APC managed PDU ). Overall it is fairly quiet, but I still wanted to keep it out of the eyes of others and also to keep the kids from touching anything. What I found is that when I closed the door, the temperature in the closet would rocket up and I would start to get temperature alarms from devices. That forced me to keep the door open, not an optimal solution for when guests are over.
So the question was “what does one do to keep the room cool without having to install a mini-split in your home lab?” While researching what I could do to resolve my heat issues, I ran across a potential solution that exists for AV equipment. Upon some investigation, I pulled the trigger and order one to give it a shot.
The picture above is what I am referring to. It is an AC Infinity AIRPLATE S7 that I purchased from Amazon. It comes with dual fans in a single faceplate, the controller, temperature probe, and mounting templates. It is actually a really sexy looking product – clean lines, nice finishes, and quiet! The AC Infinity website states that the fans have a total noise of 19 dBA – that is human whispering at 5 feet loud. To give you a perspective, normal conversation is around 60 dBA and breathing is at 10dBA. (Reference)
Above is some of the main controller specifications. It is small – about the size of an iPhone 6S and has two USB ports on the back to power the fans. There are 4 settings for the fan – AUTO, SMART, ON, and OFF. The AUTO mode will start the fans when the Alarm temperature is reached, Smart will spin the fans faster as the temperature gets closer to the settings temperature, ON is the fans on full speed all the time, and OFF is OFF. I run mine on SMART with dual fans and it is keeping the temperature in the room about 2 degrees above room temperature.
Above you can see a picture and the specs for the fans that come with the kit. You can purchase additional fans if necessary ( I did ). You can also reverse the direction of the fans in case you want one set of fans to blow in while another set exhausts the cabinet. For me, I am running both my fans on the exhaust and letting the natural air leakage to allow cool air in.
As I mentioned, the kit ships with all the necessary templates to install the hardware. You just have to choose your spot on the wall, level the template, and cut a hole. For me it was easy as the inside of my closet is unfinished, but if you need to put this in a finished closet – there is a good chance you will also want another grill on the inside. You can find additional grills at Amazon as well.
Above is a picture of my two fans mounted in the wall. In my opinion, they are not bad looking as they are a sleek black. They also do not bother me as they are very quiet – almost like a small white noise type sound. I sit about arm’s length away from the fans and I don’t even notice them when they are running at about 30% speed. The wife has come down into the office a few times and does not even notice them and there is no change in our conversational tones. They are just “white noise.”
Here you can see what the controller looks like once it is powered on. Nice and simple to use. If you push the Leaf button, the display turns off and the whole things blacks out, yet things continue to function. It is a really nice feature to just have it disappear and not call attention to itself.
That is what I am using to keep my home lab/internet rack cool in a closet. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won’t base on your setup. I just wanted to take a moment and share with you what I found and am using.
A PDF copy of the manual for the Airplate can be found here.