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Old 06-01-2009, 09:11 PM   #1
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Cooling a small box in the attic


I just moved into a house that has about a dozen Cat5e cables with RJ45 terminations gathered into one spot in the attic, where it awaits a network switch to tie everything together. I put a remote temperature sensor up there and it hit 130 degrees with it being only 92 degrees outside. I had a fan blowing on it too. When the dog days of summer hit, it will only get worse. My network switch is rated at a max operating temp of 122 degrees.

I looked at extending the dozen Cat5e cables down through the ceiling into a nearby closet, but then I thought, "why suffer the signal loss of extending the cables with female-to-female couplers when there's a freakin' air conditioner and duct work within 3 feet of the switch location. I thought it might be either clever or ridiculously stupid to put the switch in a small enclosure and somehow tap into the existing AC duct work to cool the case. The case would only be about 12" wide x 8" deep x 3" high. Could a small hose be run from a nearby duct into the enclosure? How would I manage air flow within the enclosure?

Completely clueless,

John

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Old 06-01-2009, 10:19 PM   #2
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Cooling a small box in the attic


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I just moved into a house that has about a dozen Cat5e cables with RJ45 terminations gathered into one spot in the attic, where it awaits a network switch to tie everything together. I put a remote temperature sensor up there and it hit 130 degrees with it being only 92 degrees outside. I had a fan blowing on it too. When the dog days of summer hit, it will only get worse. My network switch is rated at a max operating temp of 122 degrees.

I looked at extending the dozen Cat5e cables down through the ceiling into a nearby closet, but then I thought, "why suffer the signal loss of extending the cables with female-to-female couplers when there's a freakin' air conditioner and duct work within 3 feet of the switch location. I thought it might be either clever or ridiculously stupid to put the switch in a small enclosure and somehow tap into the existing AC duct work to cool the case. The case would only be about 12" wide x 8" deep x 3" high. Could a small hose be run from a nearby duct into the enclosure? How would I manage air flow within the enclosure?

Completely clueless,

John
While in theory that would work, what's going to cool your switch when the A/C isn't on?

I would extend the cables and put the switch in the conditioned space. There won't be any signal loss from doing that, the switch will be happy, and you will be happy when you can look at the LEDs on the switch when you are trying to figure out why something isn't working. Also, network switches tend to need to be reset on occasion, not easy to do if it's in the attic.

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Old 06-02-2009, 07:17 AM   #3
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Cooling a small box in the attic


You are right, your switch will not last long at those temps. I would also be concerned with the dust as well.

Either get yourself a rugged switch that can handle the heat and dust of that environment, or move it into a conditioned space. Any ductwork changes could cause problems for your existing conditioned spaces via increase static pressure or lower air flow to other spaces, etc.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:08 PM   #4
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Cooling a small box in the attic


  1. Yes, I would definitely need to remember to disconnect the enclosure from the duct when we start using the heat during the winter!
  2. I have a managed switch with a web interface to configure and monitor each port as well as perform a soft-reset. This would save me the hassle of going into the attic to check on status, but if I needed a power-reset I'd still have to go up there. Good point.
  3. I was concerned about signal integrity, but if I get decent Cat5e-rated female-to-female couplers to extend the runs into the living space I suppose I should be OK. I just know that whenever you introduce a connection, you will change the signal-to-noise ratio, even if it's a small amount.
Thanks for the feedback.

John
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:54 PM   #5
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Cooling a small box in the attic


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  1. Yes, I would definitely need to remember to disconnect the enclosure from the duct when we start using the heat during the winter!
  2. I have a managed switch with a web interface to configure and monitor each port as well as perform a soft-reset. This would save me the hassle of going into the attic to check on status, but if I needed a power-reset I'd still have to go up there. Good point.
  3. I was concerned about signal integrity, but if I get decent Cat5e-rated female-to-female couplers to extend the runs into the living space I suppose I should be OK. I just know that whenever you introduce a connection, you will change the signal-to-noise ratio, even if it's a small amount.
Thanks for the feedback.

John
It's not just for Winter, even during Summer the A/C will cycle on and off, there will be times when the attic is very hot but the A/C isn't running.

The couplers shouldn't cause you any issues. Especially since it is a managed switch, with more power consumption thus more heat, I still say try to get it out of the attic.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
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Cooling a small box in the attic


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It's not just for Winter, even during Summer the A/C will cycle on and off, there will be times when the attic is very hot but the A/C isn't running.

The couplers shouldn't cause you any issues. Especially since it is a managed switch, with more power consumption thus more heat, I still say try to get it out of the attic.
I've decided to do as you suggest. For $90, I can extend all 10 runs with shielded couplers into a nearby closet that will serve my purposes just fine.

The risk of screwing something up is much lower this way.

Thanks,

John
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:33 PM   #7
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Cooling a small box in the attic


I've been considering a similar thing in my attic to enclose a switch, wireless AP, and some audio/HA stuff. My plan is to build an insulated box and use a couple of inline duct fans to exchange air between the box and the conditioned space of a closet below. A temp sensor would turn the fans on and off when needed.

Just wanted to throw that out there in case you wanted to reconsider..

Though if all you're ever going to need up there is a switch, then extending the data lines is probably a lot less work, and cheaper.

You can always get a CAT5e rated punch block and extend the lines that way. It's a little more involved than using F-F couplers, but I've had some bad experiences with those types of couplers (spotty connections, noise on the line if/when they're moved).
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:03 PM   #8
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Cooling a small box in the attic


ScottR,

Thanks for your suggestion and for confirmation that I'm not completely out to lunch for considering such a solution. I went to Fry's and bought the necessary cables and couplers. The funny thing is that they had a sale on terminated hot-pink Cat5e cables from Cables Unlimited in the exact lengths I was looking for. They even have fake diamond jewels on the hoods! The slogan on the package reads, "Ka-BLING, where cables and bling come together!" They would be perfect for wiring a human-sized Barbie house. They'll be in the attic and in a closet, so they won't be a source of embarrassment until we ever decide to sell the house.

Regards,

John
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:11 PM   #9
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Cooling a small box in the attic


John,

Eh, maybe we're both out to lunch..

That's downright hilarious! I wish I had a Fry's around here so I could pick some up for the patch panels in my office.. That would give the next cable guy/phone tech a good laugh.

Hope you got 'em reeeaaal cheap though.

-Scott

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