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It could be a silly question, but I decided to go for it.

I shall be buying 3 servers in the next few weeks to set up a small webfarm at my home.

I am told by different people who work in server rooms, that I should keep my servers in an air conditioned room. Which is really expensive, because the temperature here in south asia is between 10 to 50 degrees C.

Here comes the funny part: I have an extra fridge in my home, why shouldn't I put the servers inside that fridge?

Benefits:

  1. I don't have to buy the air conditioner.
  2. I don't have to buy the rack mount for the servers.
  3. The electricity consumed by the fridge is much much less than AC.

Give me your suggestions!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 9 '11 at 19:07

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

closed as off topic by Ben Pilbrow, Mark Henderson, RobM, Dennis Williamson, sysadmin1138 Jan 9 '11 at 19:47

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13  
A fridge won't be effective - it can't shift several hundred watts of heat from the servers even if its compressor is running continuously. –  Paul R Jan 9 '11 at 18:33
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Reading your replies to the answers you have already, it sounds like you've already decided to do it and just want to be told its a good idea. It's not. Daniel, Julian and Paul R are all correct. A fridge is not very efficient at cooling something that is continually generating heat (in fact the heat generated by a typical server is likely to exceed the cooling abilities of an average fridge, it's likely to add humidity which will be bad for the servers (and dangerous for you, water and electricity are a bad mixture). –  RobM Jan 9 '11 at 19:33
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I think you misunderstand the fundamentals of how a fridge works. It doesn't add cold air to the compartment, it removes hot air, which cools the average temperature of the compartment. Even adding a hot plate of food can raise the temperature by a few degrees before it cools off, nevermind adding three servers constantly generating many times more heat. You might want to read this: home.howstuffworks.com/refrigerator.htm –  MDMarra Jan 9 '11 at 19:52
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This is so relevant! Somebody vote it back! –  Andres Jaan Tack Jan 10 '11 at 8:02
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@Delux, @Belisarius, @Andres, @Everyone who wants this question re-opened, please tell me how it fits into this site as defined in the FAQ: [Server Fault] is not about... Networking outside the professional workplace - no professional would ever, ever do this in a million years, and the op specifically states it's for at home. –  Mark Henderson Jan 10 '11 at 20:28

8 Answers 8

Because opening the fridge would add a lot of humid air to the environment, that condenses on the cold server parts, builds up drops, and destroys your servers.

Someone else tried it with a freezer:

alt text

Just kidding, this was intended by some encryption breakers, but it fitted too good in this question *g

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1  
I just went to the fridge , i touched all metalic things , i see no sign of water. –  Muhammad Jamal Shaikh Jan 9 '11 at 18:52
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@Muhammed - just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. Take a look at your freezer - how much frost do you see around the edges? That's a result of the humidity in the freezer that's come in from the outside world. That same humidity doesn't automagically avoid going into your fridge too. My fridge has small amounts of frost in it (so you could say, write your name on a piece of glass). That's humidity. Humidity = water, water = death. –  Mark Henderson Jan 9 '11 at 19:27
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This clearly makes it a water-cooled server farm! –  Troy Hunt Jan 10 '11 at 7:53
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It's possible that Muhammad's servers are in an arid climate. In that case, condensation is not an issue. What is an issue is that an ordinary fridge could never keep up with the heat generation of even a modest server. And in a closed fridge it would get very hot very quickly. –  Apocalisp Jan 11 '11 at 5:07
    
@Acopalisp - the user states they're in south asia. That's the tropics where 100% humidity is fairly common. –  Mark Henderson Feb 16 '11 at 23:45

Three servers? You do not need any special cooling for just three servers.

A/C controller server rooms are for hundreds of servers, not three. Just as long as you keep them out of direct sunlight, you'll be fine.

I live in Australia where the amient temperature can get up to 40 celcius easilly on a summers day - you'll be fine with just three servers.

Additionally, most rack mounted servers I know are 80cm deep. Unless your fridge is freakishly deep, you won't fit them anyway.

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4  
3 servers... just get a decent fan and point it at the servers. Or better yet... use slicehost or linode. –  delux247 Jan 10 '11 at 14:32

Here you may read a thread about a real experiment (with a deep freezer and a little fridge). The conclusions in short are:

It's now time to remove the PC and end this experiment. Here are the results.

A fridge doesn't seem to have enough power to sustain a cold environment for computers. In fact the stress placed on the fridge lead to other people's fridges breaking down, however I think it's safe to say that it wouldn't happen in 15 minutes like people say. In short, fridges are best at cooling drinks not PCs. Hard drives don't seem to like the cold (or at least the ones I used didn't) and their life span wil be lowered considerably, so I recommend you leave hard drives outside the unit.

The deep freezer seems to show suprising results that even I was skeptical of, cooling the PC a reasonable amount. However like all cooling systems, and especially closed environment ones like this, condensation was a big issue.

To wrap it up, if you have an old deep freezer that you don't mind putting a few holes through, and a PC that you don't mind taking chances with -- then this is a somewhat sound idea. But there are much cheaper ways that work better if you need to have new machinery. As the Mythbusters would say: as far as their ability to cool computers goes, "busted" for the fridge and "plausible" for the freezer.

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-1 for suggesting something potentially dangerous. –  RobM Jan 9 '11 at 19:42
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@Robert AFAIK, reading threads from other sites is not THAT dangerous. –  belisarius Jan 9 '11 at 22:05
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I thought it was great, someone actually tried it and produced their results. As expected, this is a bad idea, but +1 for doing science even if kind of in a ghetto way.. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 10 '11 at 7:48
    
It seems that the lack of air motion ("closed environment") is the major killer, here, as it makes condensation more likely. –  Andres Jaan Tack Jan 10 '11 at 8:17

Just don't do it.

Your server is going to create A LOT more heat than the fridge can cool. If you've ever been in a server room (which in comparison to a fridge is massive) where the air conditioning is playing up, you will know just how hot it gets and how quickly it gets that hot.

Your server will most likely do an emergency thermal shutdown within about 10 minutes of being closed in the fridge, and you risk doing serious damage to the internal server components. Don't look at the manufacturer to replace all the failed components on warranty terms either.

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I would not recommend putting you servers in the fridge for at least two reasons:

  1. You have to drill holes in the fridge to get your electric power into the fridge. ;-) This will lower the isolation.

  2. The amount of watts that a fridge consumes per hour is in the range of 100 Watts. The amount of watts that your servers will be consuming will be at least 450 so you will be heating far more than cooling.

What will happen is that you will actually be locking the servers in a small space without the ability to cool down. Your servers will toast.

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no driller holes is free , and using stuff like plaster seen(which kids use to play) would retight that whole.so no issue with your first point.w.r.t the second point , what i understand is , that the server will be releasing more heat than the fridge will be producing the cooling , the end result would be heating ( since its airtight).right? –  Muhammad Jamal Shaikh Jan 9 '11 at 19:03
    
@Jamal, I am interested to here how you are planning to overcome my second point? –  Julian Jan 9 '11 at 19:04
    
@Julian, your second point really doesn't have much value. Every cooling system produces more heat then cool air. –  Zoredache Jan 9 '11 at 19:36
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The second point here is wrong, in that a refrigeration system tends to move much more energy than its compressor consumes (the ratio of the two being the 'coefficient of performance' or CoP.) But behind that mistake is the truth that a domestic fridge does not have a powerful enough plant to cool several hard-working servers. Domestic fridges also tend to be 'capillary' systems, which are set up for a very narrow range of operating temperatures - so they won't do very well other than at the 4-degrees-ish they're designed for. –  Will Dean Jan 10 '11 at 16:12

I think you want to stick to airconditioning units: they are designed to deal/work with moving air. Fridges and freezers aren't.

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If you're really up to experimentation. Here is what I suggest.

  1. remove all the racks from the fridge.
  2. Put a slow moving fan at the top of empty fridge facing bottom. (for air circulation)
  3. Bare the evaporator coil and put it under the fan in such a way that air crosses it through.
  4. then place your servers beneath it in such a way that it never blocks complete air circulation.
  5. Drill one hole for power input to servers. And distribute power to servers extending this one input. Make sure you sealed it with good thermal insulation.
  6. Circuit a themostat outside that displays temperature inside. Before you open the fridge, make sure the themostat comes closer to your room temperature to avoid condensation.

Now, you may also want to plug-in a dehumidifier (or a blower that throws hot blows outside) that you run every time you open and then close the fridge and before starting the fridge.

It's a good experiment, at least.

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More useful would be opening the case of the servers and having a large fan blowing directly onto the motherboard. You want to avoid hotspots. I used to live in South Florida, and have been in situations where the air conditioning has quit working. Temperatures over 40C were easily reached.

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