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Home server in a garage - daft idea?

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Jonny Wright    13

EDIT: I know it is questionable whether I have posted in the correct area of the forum. If a mod feels the need to, then please do move this post to a more appropriate area. I felt the discussion was predominantly around how hardware will respond to a certain type of environment, hence choosing the Hardware Hangout.

 

As part of the renovation project of our new home, we are fully networking it with CATx (TBD) to each room, all CCTV points, WAP locations etc. Clearly, we need a dedicated "hub" for everything to feed back to. We are located in the UK.

 

By the time we are complete, I expect we will have a requirement to house something along the lines of;

  • 1 x HP Microserver (maybe a second in the future)
  • 2 x rackmount switches
  • 1 x rackmount router
  • 1 x cable modem

 

There may be a few additions, such as TiVo, HDR etc once I have decided how to stream these around the house (FWIW, top of the list at the moment is this). 

 

Currently, I am leaning towards installing everything into the garage and wanted peoples opinions on whether or not this is a good idea. I have read a lot of posts elsewhere, where there is often the blanket "no, are you mad?!" replies, but I wanted some serious discussions based on my specific situation.

 

As far as I can tell, the main issues generally associated with an installation in a garage are;

  • Dust
  • Temperature
  • Humidity

Below, I describe the methods I am going to use to try and mitigate the above. 

 

Dust

I am proposing to install all of the equipment within a wall mounted rack cabinet, installed so the equipment probably sits between chest and head height (regardless, it will be off the ground). The cabinet itself will have fans and filters on it, which hopefully will help minimise dust ingress (I'm thinking positive pressure within the cabinet?).

There will be two doors to the garage; one "regular" door (for humans) from the outside, which will be UPVC or similar sealed door. The "main" door (for vehicles) will be a typical up and over garage door, so not particularly well sealed. I will do my best to put draft excluders on it to minimise dust, leaves etc making their way in.

 

Temperature

Part of the grand install involves the use of Home Assistant to automate as much as possible in the home. If required, the use of HA, a few temperature sensors and a tube heater, should be able to keep the kit nice and toasty in the winter (in reality, I really don't think that keeping things warm will be an issue!). I have not yet had too much thought about keeping cool in the summer - perhaps a fan speed controller to ramp things up in the summer?

 

Humidity

Short of installing some kind of ventilation - be that an extractor or PIV - I don't really know how to combat this. I suppose at this stage I am still considering whether I even need to worry about humidity at all? The walls and ceiling of the garage will be plasterboarded as a minimum, and maybe plastered too, so the room will be pretty well sealed (with the exception of the main door as stated above). I did read somewhere else that somebody (in the US I think) filled the bottom of their cabinet with silica gel - I thought this was quite ingenious.

 

So, if anyone has any opinions, suggestions or ideas they would all be very welcome.

 

Thanks for reading.

Edited by Jonny Wright

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+goretsky    903

Hello,

 

One other concern might be vibration.  You might want to look into some kind of shock-mounting to reduce vibration, especially if you are going to have hard disk drives in the rack.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

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dipsylalapo    1,363

Side note - you should post updates on how it's all going, always interesting to hear about people's projects :)  Also what HP server are you using? I've been using a Gen 8 for a few years now and love it. 

 

On topic - 

 

I think what would help is to understand what the garage is used for, that may help set some context. It sounds like mainly for storage and car(s)? 

 

Have you considered the loft? That's where I've been storing all my kit and even with the crazy highs we've had this summer it's been fine. I make sure I give the filters etc a clean every now and then, but dust is normally worst where there are things happening i.e people :P

 

Given what you've said, I wouldn't think it's a problem. My neighbour has a set up like yours (minus an actual working garage door) and he hasn't had any issues. 

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mcloum    35

I currently have 24 LAN points going back to a Network rack in my garage, this also houses my HP Microserver and so far I've had no issues. Its a brick garage on a new build house so dust and concrete dust is pretty minimal, but concrete dust is starting to build up recently so im going to paint the floor when the weather picks up again. My switch also has the lid off and the fan unplugged. My rack doesn't have a door or back so everything is open.

 

I think you'll be fine if you have a rack with at least a glass door and some ventilation as your installing a lot more than me.

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Ready2018    34

I've never had any issues when housing my home networking in the garage.

 

My only concern here would be that I note that you will be using a cable modem, which would suggest you will be with VM.

 

The only thing you've got to watch out with VM is that it's a lot slower latency than BT, which means that things like livestreaming and online gaming can suffer.

 

Other than that it sounds like a good project for you and hope you update here your progress.

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helpifIcan    39

Rather than an open rack look into a box with fan, lock, & filters?????????

I have many customers that use these more for keeping unauthorized hands off the equipment, but might be a solution for you. 

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sc302    1,551

Dust - No matter the environment (unless in a clean room), dust is always an issue.  

 

Temp/Humidity - Garages are mostly and uncontrolled environments.  If you are that concerned, get a geist Watchdog 15.  It is a little expensive for home use, however it can alert you when temp and humidity is too high.  

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Mindovermaster    1,489
53 minutes ago, sc302 said:

Dust - No matter the environment (unless in a clean room), dust is always an issue.  

 

Temp/Humidity - Garages are mostly and uncontrolled environments.  If you are that concerned, get a geist Watchdog 15.  It is a little expensive for home use, however it can alert you when temp and humidity is too high.  

I was told by people that humidity doesn't matter unless you have extreme tempuratures. Hot/Cold.

 

Here's the exact post. On another forum I go to.

 

Quote

Condensation should only happen if the computer reaches a temperature that is less than the ambient temperature, which won't happen with air cooling.

Just get a dehumidifier, you should be fine.

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sc302    1,551

That can happen in a garage.  Going from 40 degrees in my garage to 0 (or below) by opening the garage doors in the middle of winter/snow storms could do that.  My garage is not temp controlled, it just doesn’t go below 40 degrees F with the doors closed.  Open them up and it cools down quick. 

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Mindovermaster    1,489

ah, OK. Dunno if his garage is heated, though. ;)

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Jonny Wright    13

Wow - I never expected so many replies. Thanks everyone. If you don't fancy reading all my replies, I think the garage is going to be the new hub. It seems there are many other people running this setup without issue. 

 

On 9/24/2018 at 6:45 AM, goretsky said:

Hello,

 

One other concern might be vibration.  You might want to look into some kind of shock-mounting to reduce vibration, especially if you are going to have hard disk drives in the rack.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

 

Good point. Will look into some kind of anti-vibration feet for the Microserver.

On 9/24/2018 at 9:15 AM, dipsylalapo said:

Side note - you should post updates on how it's all going, always interesting to hear about people's projects :)  Also what HP server are you using? I've been using a Gen 8 for a few years now and love it. 

 

On topic - 

 

I think what would help is to understand what the garage is used for, that may help set some context. It sounds like mainly for storage and car(s)? 

 

Have you considered the loft? That's where I've been storing all my kit and even with the crazy highs we've had this summer it's been fine. I make sure I give the filters etc a clean every now and then, but dust is normally worst where there are things happening i.e people ?

 

Given what you've said, I wouldn't think it's a problem. My neighbour has a set up like yours (minus an actual working garage door) and he hasn't had any issues. 

Thanks, I will update as it progresses! It is still in the planning stage at the moment, but looking forward to getting started. It's a Gen 8, also had it for a few years. Currently used for various random projects. I have a test domain controller on a VM, the host OS is the home fileshare server, and I have Zoneminder on another VM for all my surveillance needs! At present, I just have 4 cheap WiFi IP cams on the exterior of the house - one on each corner. As part of "Project House" I will run dedicated ethernet cables to the camera points. I will then replace the existing cams with PoE cams.

 

The garage is purely a dumping ground - I doubt it will ever actually be used for a car (not during our tenancy anyway). It is only a single garage and quite short. I had considered the loft. When asked for specifics to why I don't like the idea of the loft, I can't actually give any. Something just doesn't feel right. That would involve a little work too, as there is no boarding at the moment - just a sea of insulation.

On 9/24/2018 at 9:34 AM, mcloum said:

I currently have 24 LAN points going back to a Network rack in my garage, this also houses my HP Microserver and so far I've had no issues. Its a brick garage on a new build house so dust and concrete dust is pretty minimal, but concrete dust is starting to build up recently so im going to paint the floor when the weather picks up again. My switch also has the lid off and the fan unplugged. My rack doesn't have a door or back so everything is open.

 

I think you'll be fine if you have a rack with at least a glass door and some ventilation as your installing a lot more than me.

That's good to hear. Although our house isn't a new build, it is mainly the cement floor dust which worries me. As mentioned above, I don't think we will ever use the garage for actually storing a car, so I suppose I could think about what floor we have in there. I could chuck some carpet down? I know this won't necessarily decrease the amount of dust, but at least more of it will be trapped in the carpet. I've just been looking at costs for getting a polished concrete floor - that is the dream (although I can't imagine that will help with my duct worries)!

On 9/24/2018 at 9:57 AM, Ready2018 said:

I've never had any issues when housing my home networking in the garage.

 

My only concern here would be that I note that you will be using a cable modem, which would suggest you will be with VM.

 

The only thing you've got to watch out with VM is that it's a lot slower latency than BT, which means that things like livestreaming and online gaming can suffer.

 

Other than that it sounds like a good project for you and hope you update here your progress.

You are correct, I am with VM and have been for many years now. It is strange you mention the latency, as I have personally never had any issues. Saying that, there is no one in the house who does any online gaming to complain from that view. Streaming has never really been an issue, and we do stream quite a lot - I will keep an eye on it. Do you have any figures you could share from your experiences?

On 9/24/2018 at 5:18 PM, helpifIcan said:

Rather than an open rack look into a box with fan, lock, & filters?????????

I have many customers that use these more for keeping unauthorized hands off the equipment, but might be a solution for you. 

It was more of a cabinet style I was going for anyway, as opposed to an open rack. This is the kind of thing I was thinking about - is it similar to what you are suggesting?

On 9/24/2018 at 5:28 PM, sc302 said:

Dust - No matter the environment (unless in a clean room), dust is always an issue.  

 

Temp/Humidity - Garages are mostly and uncontrolled environments.  If you are that concerned, get a geist Watchdog 15.  It is a little expensive for home use, however it can alert you when temp and humidity is too high.  

2

That does look like a very cool piece of kit! Another option I thought of since my OP is making more use of the Home Assistant for measuring humidity too with a cheap sensor. 

On 9/24/2018 at 6:20 PM, Mindovermaster said:

I was told by people that humidity doesn't matter unless you have extreme tempuratures. Hot/Cold.

 

Here's the exact post. On another forum I go to.

 

Just get a dehumidifier, you should be fine.

That is an option if humidity starts to become an issue. It seems the general consensus is "no need to worry about humidity".

On 9/24/2018 at 6:33 PM, sc302 said:

That can happen in a garage.  Going from 40 degrees in my garage to 0 (or below) by opening the garage doors in the middle of winter/snow storms could do that.  My garage is not temp controlled, it just doesn’t go below 40 degrees F with the doors closed.  Open them up and it cools down quick. 

 

Then again reading this, maybe I should? Pardon my ignorance, are you talking about temps of 40F and 0F?

23 hours ago, Mindovermaster said:

ah, OK. Dunno if his garage is heated, though. ;)

It isn't heated...yet ;)

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sc302    1,551

Yes, you need to convert to C if you want.  0 degrees C is quite cold.  If you never open your garage in the winter/cold months you should be ok. 

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helpifIcan    39

Correct basically a rack in a sealed box with exhaust fan or fans, lock optional.

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Human.Online    7,590

I did this in a previous property, and had a stud-wall built to create another tiny but sealed room.  Painted over the walls with sealing paint to remove as much dust as possible, and installed a vent into the main garage for cooling.  I don't know where you live, but outside it got to about -5c some days and about 35c in the summer - the room served it's purpose just fine.

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mcloum    35
On 9/25/2018 at 10:30 PM, Jonny Wright said:

That's good to hear. Although our house isn't a new build, it is mainly the cement floor dust which worries me. As mentioned above, I don't think we will ever use the garage for actually storing a car, so I suppose I could think about what floor we have in there. I could chuck some carpet down? I know this won't necessarily decrease the amount of dust, but at least more of it will be trapped in the carpet. I've just been looking at costs for getting a polished concrete floor - that is the dream (although I can't imagine that will help with my duct worries)!

PVA Glue mixed with water would be your cheapest solution. Then paint over it.

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Dan~    237

I use to have 4 servers running in the eaves in my loft with stupidly hot summers it was fine, apart from the one time a sata cable melted and started to burn.

 

buy a garage door brush seal and you’ll be fine

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