This section is primarily dedicated to products that directly cool components by circulating air around the components. These products and this principle can be applied for most installations no matter the location of the components. The primary exception is if the components are installed in an open area and have plenty of spacing between them. This is the environment that components were designed for so additional cooling should not be necessary. Unfortunately from a cooling standpoint though, the more common trend is to install components in cabinets or closets and conceal them by closing the doors and thus limiting airflow.
For components that are installed in cabinetry or closets, cooling products should be considered along with venting products. In some circumstances, either cooling or venting products will be appropriate and in other more demanding situations, both cooling and venting products may be required.
Best Practice. The first and perhaps most important step in cooling components is to position components properly by not stacking heat producing components on top of each other, space shelving properly (so components can 'breathe'), keep wiring organized so the wiring does not block airflow, and then have sufficient openings in shelving to allow airflow between the shelves. The best method is to notch out the back of the shelves which provides for easy wiring management as well as good airflow.
Once the natural airflow is maximized, then consider when cooling products may be required. If heat producing components do not have the recommended spacing which is normally 4” above the components, then cooling products very well may be required. The good side is that if heat is not accumulating in the area, if there is venting installed or if for example, components are in a cabinet but there is no back to the cabinet, then minimal additional airflow will most likely do the job – for example a Single or Dual Fan Unit. More demanding situations are also not a huge challenge since we offer a full line of Cooling Products.
Avoid Common Misconceptions Related to Cooling Components. At this point weare tired at looking at claims made by so-called cooling professionals with few to no credentials so we have created this section.
1) CFMs and Airflow Requirements for Components. To cool components, a huge amount of CFMs (cubic feet per minute of airflow) is not required. Some people try to quantify the CFMs that are needed to cool equipment but there are huge holes in the logic and methodology which then negates any legitimacy to these approaches. Plain and simple, there are too many variables to quantify the precise CFM requirements.The bottom line is that if you use some common sense, follow the principles mentioned above which a large portion does not involve spending a penny on cooling products, then monitor your systems and the heat being generated, cooling components is not a huge challenge. Simply add cooling products based on where the heat is accumulating and which components are affected.
2) How Air Flows and Pretty Diagrams. This is a subject that is sometimes baffling. It is almost amusing to see drawings and diagrams of air moving nicely through a cabinet and around components. The cool air, represented with blue arrows, coming in the bottom of the cabinet and then hot air coming off the components, depicted by red arrows of course, flowing to the back of the cabinet and perfectly exhausting out the top.....
The fact is that it would be great if it was that easy and air was that 'manageable' but it is not. As it related to cooling components, unless there is natural or assisted airflow, heat will simply accumulate around the components and build until a thermal shutdown is triggered which is the short term affect. The long term affect which may occur even if there are not thermal shutdowns, is that the lifespan of the equipment may be compromised.
3) Equipment's Life is Cut in Half with Every10 Degree Rise.... This is just BS is the only way to put it. We have not seen one single 'valid' study that substantiates this. This is another area where folks have tried to quantify a principle but true research is limited or non-existent. We're not even going to go into all of the variables that would bust this line of reasoning wide open.
The fact is that yes, heat can damage equipment, but the fact also exists that the internal temperatures, the 'normal' operating temperatures in a component, are far greater than we address in cooling components and the systems in general. Most components today also have thermal protections built-in so if you have a component shutting down due to heat, you should definitely pay attention to the issue because there is no better indicator that a problem exists. You should also pay attention to ambient temperatures around the components because the problem occurs because there are several components that generate in an area and then airflowlimited or cut off totally.
The point though is to not let this scare tactic work on you! Again, use common sense, take the basic precautions, and then monitor your systems.
4) Professional Products vs. Fans. We are now seeing more and more products hitting the market that are marketed as audio video cooling products. The fact is that while the principles may be the same between the 'garage' vs 'professional' products, much more goes into the products than just selling a fan and power supply. The fact is that not all fans are created equal and trust folks with a closet full of 'fans' on that - we spent two years testing and rejecting fans before spec’ing specialty fans.
In the residential electronics world we have to consider both noise and effectiveness equally. Products have to be quiet and effective with very very few exceptions. Actually no exceptions when it comes to the effectiveness. Just like an amplifier produces heat though, a fan produces noise. There is no magical 'quiet' fan out there. So why do we have boxes full of fans? It is because we have tested most fans on the market and honestly, all failed. We ended up having fans specially manufactured to our specifications to balance the noise vs effectiveness issue. We also had to contend with bearing issues as most fans are not intended for vertical mounting and then electrical noise can also be created by certain types of fans.Then there are also longevity issues and a few other things we won't bore you with.
So the bottom line is that while you can certainly find a wide variety of 'fans' on the market, just ensure that your source for cooling products has done their research on the fan types,selected the proper fans and created products for use in residential technology applications. They should also have experience with home audio video systems as well as experience with thermal dynamics. The products should be well tested, aesthetically pleasing, and be supported by a quality company with a strong commitment to their products and customers.