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Rack mounted in home environment


artiom
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Hi all!

 

As the current's Microserver G8 capabilities are not enough for me anymore (mostly limited RAM), I am investigating possible solutions.

One solution can be to use rack-mounted servers.

 

Can you please share your experiences about using rack servers in home environment?

 

Let's discuss these topics:

 

1. What hardware you used and what was the energy consumption.

2. What enclosures were used - open rack, a closed cabinet, etc.

3. How the cooling was managed.

4. Where is the best place for it? Garage? Loft?

5. How it can be protected from dust (in a garage or loft)?

6. How it can be protected from high humidity?

 

Any input is appreciated :)

Thank you!

 

P.S.: I am not sure if this is the right place for the topic - please move it elsewhere if needed.

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For the servers themselves - I would buy some used ones. For example an HP DL180 G6 with dual Xeon L5640 will completely suit my needs.

As for the rack itself - I think to buy a 24-36 units cabinet and mod it as needed for cooling, sound proofing and dust protection.

I have a pretty big garage to store them but it is dusty and quite humid in winter (south-west of UK).

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I bought  a used HP DL385 G6 for about $250 US (no drives) with 96 GIG RAM.  It is mounted in what we normally call a tactical rack (military deployment about 36 U) on wheels in my garage.  Even though it has redundant power, I only use one and will all drive bays loaded I pull about 120W which translates to an energy cost of ~$125 US annually which isn't too bad for that old of a machine.

 

I am on the 35th parallel, much south than you but our winters are more humid than dry and so far everything is working out good for me.  I do have one more case in that rack using much less power and the other space is taken up as storage for offline cases, etc.

 

So far I don;'t see any issues with dust but there is no way I could put that thing in my attic with the summers here reaching into the uppers 90's F.  Outside Air temp this morning was around 28F and the inside temp of the garage was 55.  In the summers I may reach 75 in there so those temps are just fine for the server.

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Do I understand correctly that your server is mounted in an open-frame rack? it's interesting, as I was thinking it would collect a lot of dust.

Looks like I don't need to worry about temperatures - providing there will be enough ventilation. the power consumption will be fine as well.

How about the noise?

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The main issue with rackmount servers is that they tend to be extremely loud especially so if it is a small 1U or 2U server. There is limited space in small servers so they compensate by having many very high RPM fans instead.

 

Unless you specifically need rackmounted servers, it is better to use tower case servers instead. The fans tend to be bigger and run at a lower speed. The physical footprint of the server is also quite a lot smaller.

 

3. How the cooling was managed.

If the room is reasonable temperature and you've not jammed the rack full of very high power equipment then you don't need to do anything special for it.

 

4. Where is the best place for it? Garage? Loft?

Garage. You don't want a heavy rack in the loft unless you really can't avoid it. The servers are likely to be noisy so you don't want that above your bedrooms. You really don't want vibration from the rack to be coupled to your ceiling. Temperature variation will quite likely be very high in the loft as well. It also sounds like your loft isn't finished?

 

5. How it can be protected from dust (in a garage or loft)?

You can buy rack enclosures that have filters on the air inlets if it is that dusty to require it. You'll need to regularly change the filters.

 

6. How it can be protected from high humidity?

Dehumidifier. If you've put it inside the rack then make sure it doesn't leak!
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For the servers themselves - I would buy some used ones. For example an HP DL180 G6 with dual Xeon L5640 will completely suit my needs.

Do you have a cheap source of DL180 G6s or are you just pondering options?

 

As for the rack itself - I think to buy a 24-36 units cabinet and mod it as needed for cooling, sound proofing and dust protection.

Soundproofing tends not to be great for cooling. Same with dust protection. Add more of either of them and you'll find your cooling gets worse since air can't freely go in/out of your enclosure. Do you actually need a full sized rack?

 

I have a pretty big garage to store them but it is dusty and quite humid in winter (south-west of UK).

Humidity should be fine. It may be a lot for the UK but it isn't much compared to other places in the world.
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Do you have a cheap source of DL180 G6s or are you just pondering options?

Just researching available options. No specific preferences.

 

Do you actually need a full sized rack?

No, anything that fits 1-4 2U servers plus maybe some other simple equipment will be fine. There are plenty of cheap 42U cabinets, but they are too big and heavy for my needs.

 

Thank you for your input, looks like the loft is not an option - garage is the only suitable place in my situation. I guess the humidity shouldn't be a problem then.

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Do I understand correctly that your server is mounted in an open-frame rack? it's interesting, as I was thinking it would collect a lot of dust.

Looks like I don't need to worry about temperatures - providing there will be enough ventilation. the power consumption will be fine as well.

How about the noise?

  Open frame, front and back.  The noise is the reason it's in the garage.  Those fans make an awful racket at startup.  Family room is right above the garage and I don't hear a thing.

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Thank you for the input!

It looks simpler than I thought - I will keep researching for good deals.

 

Unless you specifically need rackmounted servers, it is better to use tower case servers instead. [...] The physical footprint of the server is also quite a lot smaller.

What are the advantages of a tower case except noise? I have the impression that a rack mount will allow for a much denser packing as together with one or two servers you can mount everything else as well - like network equipment, UPS, etc.

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