Heat management: Water Cooling in an Apartment?

ddrueding

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For the first time in nearly a decade I have a home office. It isn't big, but is a big step up from my corner of the bedroom in California. It is also incredibly well insulated. So much so that even in the middle of winter my PC drives the room temp beyond 30C quite quickly when gaming. I haven't measured it yet, but according to the component specs heat output is likely 800W+. The office door must remain closed if at all possible because of the other family members out there.

For now I can just open the window, as it is 5-10C outside. However in the summer it will be 25C+ and humid. I don't want any part of that. The apartment does not have air conditioning, and I cannot add a window unit per the rental agreement. There is an air-air heat exchanger and forced-air circulation in the apartment, but there is no way it will keep up with this PC.

Here are my thoughts so far, from most reasonable to most cool:
0. Underclock/volt my components and deal with it. My games aren't intensive and it'll be fine.
1. Put an AC unit inside my office, and use some combination of plexiglass and clear piping to duct the hot exhaust out the window, hoping no one notices.
2. Water cool my PC. Mount a large radiator on the outside of the door to my office. Dump the heat in the main space so at least it averages out.
3. Put an AC unit in the utility room where the heat exchanger is, physically hack into that system to send the hot exhaust out the "return" duct and feed cold air into all the rooms using the fresh air ducts.
4. A combination of 2 and 3.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I have an 1100W Threadripper for a desktop and no AC. Wear less clothes and keep hydrated.

Just to be slightly more reasonable about it, the heat is still present. You can keep your parts cool with a water loop and radiator, but the either way, you're still radiating that heat somewhere, and in an apartment, that probably means bleeding it out in the room where the computer is. One of my long-term solutions used to be using a (formerly) unoccupied bedroom for my hotter equipment, but that works less well for my personal desktop than for my file server setup. I don't have rack space for my desktop in the common room rack, so I've just decided to suck it up.

It's actually pretty nice in the winter, at least.
 
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LunarMist

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Welcome to Norway. Once I was sweating an ass off in Oslo during the summer. That's one reason why many people take vacations in the warmer months. How many hours per day do you really need to run at 800W? Maybe use a laptop for general computing and limit the hours of flamethrower usage. Get some fans. Don't hack into the building systems; you don't have residency yet. :lol:
 

ddrueding

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The 4090 and i9-13900KF have both been well documented to get most of their performance with less than half of the power consumption. I might just have to turn it down.

That said, getting the heat out of this small room and into the larger hall/living space would at least slow down the process.
 

LunarMist

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I thought that Intel was the least efficient, followed by AMD and then MAC was by fart the most efficient.
 

Mercutio

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The -T variants of whatever Intel chip usually give about 90% of the performance for a fraction of the TDP. I used to use i5 Ts for HTPCs. DD would have to give up a little frequency peak and a lower idle but there's a lot of return on it.

As far as moving air out, a big slow fan is just what the doctor ordered. I mount a fan on my window and blow air IN for greatest relief. At the hottest times, I'll set an insulated cooler full of ice beneath that fan. That works best for the airflow in my apartment. As I've said, I have no AC, but I have plenty of time in the last 20 years to experiment.
 

LunarMist

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You have had no A/C for 20 years? :eek: 20 years ago that probably would not have cost more than a few thousand dollars to replace.
 

jtr1962

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I would literally die without A/C. On the hottest days the house would easily be over 100°F. Add in NYC's famous high humidity and you're well into the danger zone.

Can you do water cooling for all the PCs using a single loop, then run that water to a heat exchanger which exhausts the heat outside?

I guess the Nordic countries don't have enough hot days annually to merit installing air conditioning.
 

Mercutio

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I don't mind anything up to about 100F. It's fine. Just something to get used to. My office is hot. My home is hot and my bedroom is hottest of all. I've had plenty of time to learn to deal with it.
 

LunarMist

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I would literally die without A/C. On the hottest days the house would easily be over 100°F. Add in NYC's famous high humidity and you're well into the danger zone.

Can you do water cooling for all the PCs using a single loop, then run that water to a heat exchanger which exhausts the heat outside?

I guess the Nordic countries don't have enough hot days annually to merit installing air conditioning.
Much of the world does not have A/C.
 

Mercutio

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Back on topic, I'm not a huge fan of watercooling. I understand that it can make components cooler and that's OK. But in my experience it's almost never worth the effort; parts are usually rated for temperatures well higher than they reach on air cooling, and most importantly, I've never observed it living up to the claims of silence. Pumps wind up louder than good fans.

Water Cooling in anything but an extreme loop (the kind that would involve inconvenient mods to your home) doesn't change thermodynamics. Water has a specific heat, which cools the parts very well, but heat is still being radiated off the loop and mostly from the radiator. Unless all that can specifically be moved outside the room, it's gonna be an issue.

I've been toying with putting a PC out on my balcony for a while but weatherproofing and airflow don't really go together either.
 

LunarMist

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Back on topic, I'm not a huge fan of watercooling. I understand that it can make components cooler and that's OK. But in my experience it's almost never worth the effort; parts are usually rated for temperatures well higher than they reach on air cooling, and most importantly, I've never observed it living up to the claims of silence. Pumps wind up louder than good fans.

Water Cooling in anything but an extreme loop (the kind that would involve inconvenient mods to your home) doesn't change thermodynamics. Water has a specific heat, which cools the parts very well, but heat is still being radiated off the loop and mostly from the radiator. Unless all that can specifically be moved outside the room, it's gonna be an issue.

I've been toying with putting a PC out on my balcony for a while but weatherproofing and airflow don't really go together either.
The total energy with liquid cooling would be more since the pump uses power and generates additional heat. You can save on the hot side by using the body of water or burying in the ground, which are not likely in the above scenarios.
What security is there on a balcony or would you bring it in when not home? I could imagine birds and raccoons, etc. could also be a problem.
(Now I'm having flashbacks to sweating in West Germany in the 80s, using fans and wet towels. Of course my organs were all 100% and I was skinny like a kid still.)
 

Mercutio

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What security is there on a balcony or would you bring it in when not home?

I live on the third story of a building that, because of the area, has a rather large number of security cameras. I have one of my own out there, mostly to keep an eye on parking spaces for my roommates. My PC would be in some sort of enclosure that would look like it belongs outside, in a place no one would likely look for a valuable computer (there's also the matter of whether or not anyone could identify ANY desktop computer as valuable). I suppose someone could parkour their way up to my balcony, but I'd judge the risk that someone can get up and down with 40lbs of bulky computer is pretty damned low.

There's currently approximately multiple cases of Whiskey, Gin and Tequila out there - the leftovers from a music festival's VIP bar area that somehow wound up in my roommate's car, which is surely a more attractive-to-human nuisance, my roommate's collection of purloined street signs and a disused cooler that I cut to allow access for power on my outdoor LEDs strings and bulbs and camera and the LAN for my outdoor AP.
 
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Santilli

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Didn't you have a tower that used to use rising air to cool components in Salinas, combined with water cooling?
Seems to me you did just fine with having silent cooling, or getting the components in a place where the sound wasn't a bother...
You might post pics. That was a NEAT setup...
 

ddrueding

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The reason for water cooling is specifically to move the heat outside the room. I'm sorry I wasn't clear in the initial post.

The PC is next to my desk, and the water blocks capture the heat from the main components. That loop then leaves the pc case, travels along the wall, onto the door next to the hinges, through the door via holes, and to a radiator/pump/reservoir on the outside of my office door.

This puts the heat into a 1200sqft main room/hallway instead of my 85sqft office. It also takes the extra heat and noise and moves it outside the room as well.

It would involve modifying the door, but just the door, and those are easily replaced.
 

LunarMist

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Will it have an electric fan on the radiatore like a Chevy?
Or maybe put the computer out there with cables into the office room for KVM.
 

ddrueding

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The radiator might have fans, or it could just be huge and passive (I have the whole size of the door for it). There really isn't a place outside the office to put the computer; it is at the end of a hallway. My monitor currently runs 4k@144hz HDR, and it is difficult to get that signal stable with cable runs longer than 2m, so keeping the computer close currently seems more practical.
 

ddrueding

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Didn't you have a tower that used to use rising air to cool components in Salinas, combined with water cooling?
Seems to me you did just fine with having silent cooling, or getting the components in a place where the sound wasn't a bother...
You might post pics. That was a NEAT setup...
That was 13 years ago in Palo Alto and in the thread "Presenting The Coffin" on here.
 

Mercutio

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Maybe we can get Scythe to make a finned aluminum means of egress. Stick a couple box fans on both sides to pull air out and a water block at the bottom? :)
 

jtr1962

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Regarding radiators, if you want to go cheap pull the evaporator out of an old A/C someone is discarding (after they have the refrigerant removed, which is usually required before putting it out by the curb), get some car radiator fans, and you're in business. With the fans running at a fairly low, quiet speed you'll probably get temperature rises in the area of 1 or 2°C per 100 watts.
 

ddrueding

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In the garage I just had a second radiator that I routed the heat to in the summer. In the winter it ran to a radiator inside the house.

I've used automotive and house-type radiators in the past, the advantage of the ones I use these days is that they have the pump and reservoir built-in, along with a USB port for monitoring temps, flow rates, and fan speeds from the PCs. Good to automatically shut down the PC if the flow rate dies for some reason.
 

Santilli

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The -T variants of whatever Intel chip usually give about 90% of the performance for a fraction of the TDP. I used to use i5 Ts for HTPCs. DD would have to give up a little frequency peak and a lower idle but there's a lot of return on it.

As far as moving air out, a big slow fan is just what the doctor ordered. I mount a fan on my window and blow air IN for greatest relief. At the hottest times, I'll set an insulated cooler full of ice beneath that fan. That works best for the airflow in my apartment. As I've said, I have no AC, but I have plenty of time in the last 20 years to experiment.
Most effective air cooling ever was in Bakersfield, and they are illegal in Kali now. Swamp coolers.
requires fairly dry air outside to be effective.
The one I saw was about 5 feet around, with sheets of cloth on each side of the Ocatagon frame. A motor would spin the cooler, and the cloth would dip into a water tank. A fan blew over the revolving wheel, and blew air from outside to inside. Going from 105-110 Outside, to maybe 70-80 inside. They had it running at 11pm, on. Bakersfield can be over 100 all night...
 

Mercutio

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I bring this up every year, but I don't have functional AC, and because of how my apartment is laid out, there's no real airflow either. No windows on the west or south, where they would offer any relief to heat. I'm just used to it, but I use a pair of industrial fans to generate airflow through my living space and most take refuge in my living room (the one room that does in theory have AC; it's barely worth turning on, but I'm also not allowed to replace it) during the summer.

We take cold showers and try to get what we can from evaporative cooling and use blocks of ice we pull out of my chest freezer for swamp cooling. Summers are brutal. Mostly, we just go places to not be at home when it's super hot; if nothing else, the lakeshore is ~300 feet away.

Right now, I'm talking to my landlord about possibly installing a window unit heat pump. They cost $3500, but I'd be willing to swap that and leave it installed for, say, three or four months off my rent. Small heat pumps are vastly more efficient than the worthless AC I have now, can both heat and cool and they are a lot quieter. My landlord hasn't said yes or no yet, only that they aren't familiar with the technology I'm talking about. I have my fingers crossed that they might actually approve the upgrade. It would be a big quality of life improvement for me.
 

LunarMist

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Evaporative "swamp" coolers sucked in multiple ways. I spent too much time in places with them back in the day. The temperarture was lowered somewhat, but the humidity becomes high so you are feeling sweaty all the time. It does practically nothing when the humidity is already moderate or high, such as when there is a low pressure weather system. The cooler systems also tend towards microbial growth in the ductwork, the evaporator requires maintenance due to the impurities in the water, etc. Most of those systems in old homes were replaced by the 1970s with normal A/C.

Merc, I cannot imagine living like that. Why don't you move? Are there no laws in your area about HVAC working? An edlerly person could literally die when it gets too hot indoors. How much is a replacement central HVAC system?
 

Mercutio

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Merc, I cannot imagine living like that. Why don't you move? Are there no laws in your area about HVAC working? An edlerly person could literally die when it gets too hot indoors. How much is a replacement central HVAC system?

My rent is reasonable. My apartment is a short walk (300 feet?) to Indiana Dunes National Park or to the South Shore commuter rail line to downtown Chicago. My neighborhood is diverse. My landlord doesn't mind my cats. The stated reason I am not allowed to switch out the AC unit is that it is identical to the one in every other apartment.

I really don't want to own a home.
 

LunarMist

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In most states you have a right to have appliances inspected by a professional. If the system is just too small for the hottest days, that is different from it not operating properly as installed (approved by inspectors). If all of your neighbors have the same system are they all performing terribly? It's normal for HVAC systems to fail at different times and be replaced with different brands and models over time.
 

jtr1962

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Evaporative "swamp" coolers sucked in multiple ways
Here in the typical hot, humid NYC summers they would be completely useless. The humidity is often already 90%. Can't add much more moisture to it.
Merc, I cannot imagine living like that. Why don't you move? Are there no laws in your area about HVAC working? An edlerly person could literally die when it gets too hot indoors. How much is a replacement central HVAC system?
Me neither. So far with the much improved attic insulation I've gotten just about halfway into June without needing the A/C. There were only a few days when it was unpleasant in the house, like the day it was 90 about a week ago. Still, the house stayed in the low 80s, about the limit of my tolerance level. What saved me is it cooled enough at night to open the windows, and pre-cool the house for the next day. Once we get into real summer weather where the lows don't drop much under 80, it's A/C time. That might be within a week or so.

Last year I replaced the 29 year old living room A/C with this. I got it for $290 plus tax. I highly recommend inverter A/Cs. Besides saving a lot of electricity, there's no noise from the compressor cycling on and off, or alternating between freezing and sweating. It wasn't available when I got the new living room A/C, but if it were I would have gotten this one instead. It both heats and cools. The heat part is heat pump, not resistance heating. They also have a 12,000 BTU unit.
 
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LunarMist

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Is that because the buildings are relatively old? I thought most residential buildings in the states for well over 50 years have implemented central HVAC.

And maybe Dave can tell us how it is working out in the "sweatlands" of Scandanian. ;)
 

ddrueding

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Heat recovery ventilation, along with a fundamentally mild climate. I do wish my place had air conditioning, but if I avoid dumping 1kW into my small office by gaming it is comfortable enough. Worst case go downstairs and jump in the fjord.
 

Santilli

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My rent is reasonable. My apartment is a short walk (300 feet?) to Indiana Dunes National Park or to the South Shore commuter rail line to downtown Chicago. My neighborhood is diverse. My landlord doesn't mind my cats. The stated reason I am not allowed to switch out the AC unit is that it is identical to the one in every other apartment.

I really don't want to own a home.
A stable landlord is a wonderful thing. Ours is trying to raise the rent every year, 10%. Sounds like you have a nice place. It's been cold down here, in San Diego, it's mid June, and it's constantly overcast, 55-75. Wind is cool. Just open the windows. About a mile from the beach. Down side is my apartment has been flooded twice, in less then a year. First time, about 25k in damage. This time, hardly anything. Just happened two days ago.
 

jtr1962

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Is that because the buildings are relatively old? I thought most residential buildings in the states for well over 50 years have implemented central HVAC.
Buildings have had central heat for probably well over a century. Heat is easier than A/C. No ductwork, just pipes and radiators. Central A/C started being a thing in office buildings first. Even now, a lot of relatively new residential buildings don't have it. You have cutouts in the wall for people to install their own A/C. I guess than landlord would rather not pay for central A/C.

Why is Central Air SO Uncommon in New York City?

It's also worth mentioning when a lot of residential buildings in NYC were built the climate was a lot cooler. Maybe there were a handful of summer days when A/C might have been useful. It started getting worse around when I born, but I saw pictures my maternal grandfather's family took of NY harbor around the turn of the century. Some of the winter pictures had icebergs. Not small ice flows, but things the size of apartment buildings, even small skyscrapers. The winters especially were MUCH colder but I'd guess 125 years ago, before A/C was even invented, it generally wouldn't have been needed much. The Industrial Revolution really started the major climate warming or to this day A/C might not have really be needed. Heck, I even remember the difference between the summers when I was a kid and now. First week of school in early September was hot, but it was jacket weather after that. Now summers sometimes linger well into October.
 
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Santilli

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My experience in warming was Honolulu, and the Hawaiian Islands, in particular, the Big Island.
Things like volcanos create updrafts, warm thermal towers. The BI has two forms of warmth. The volcanic, and the sun beating down on lava rock.
Pretty much never been hit by a hurricane. Hurricanes are kept off by the thermal over the center of the island.
Same with Oahu, different reason. No volcano, lava is covered with lush plants. Cooler.
However, unlike Kaui, or Maui, Honolulu creates it's own thermal due to the massive buildings, and cement, pavement, that soak up heat, and create a thermal similar to the BI, but for different reasons.
I was in Hawaii for Hurricane Iniki. It was kept off The BI and Oahu by the thermals.
It went right over Kaui, since it is older, cooler, and not covered in cement.
Winds hit 225mph before the sensors blew over.
Pretty scary when straw is going so fast it's driven into palm trees;-(
I suspect the massive amounts of concrete on New York City, might raise temperatures, creating a similar thermal to the ones in the islands. I suspect the amount of building correlates with the increase in temperatures in such areas.
I suspect LA is a major example of this, and San Diego to a lesser degree.
I've noticed in this area we may get massive rain storms, but hurricanes tend to stay out at sea, until they are north of San Diego, and generally are a bet spent by the time they come in.
We have had a rather massive winter here, with constant fog, and quite a bit of rain in the last two years. It's still relatively cool, right now.
The water, read ocean, has been very cool for this area.
Global cooling is not existing in the San Diego Area.
A mile from the beach, it's been cool enough so that all we ever think of is a fan.
But, it's expensive as Hell.
Kind of wonder if the building in Miami has provided the same sort of thermal, keeping hurricanes off the city.
 

Mercutio

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Off topic CSB but my folks spent two months on a private island in Hawaii for their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. My mother spent the entire time complaining about how dark and grey and even slightly chilly it was for most of their visit because Kilauea was actively erupting and really had to be walked through how no one on planet Earth had to power to do anything about that, no matter how much her trip cost.
 
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