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I'm trying to plan a home network and am having difficulty deciding where to run cables and locate things like my patch panel, router and switch.

I live in the UK in the Midlands, and my loft is fairy dry. Of course there is ventilation in the soffits and there's no heating, and since the roof is tiled it can get warm in the summer.

I'm wondering how much to be concerned about temperature extremes and condensation etc in this environment. I'm not putting any computer hardware up there, just a router and switch.

Many thanks in advance.

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migrated from Jan 25 '13 at 23:09

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I'd be very worried and I would advise against it.

Routers are typically specified for the Commercial temperature range, and they typically assume around 25 degree temperature or so, i.e. normal temperature of the house to determine the amount of time they will operate. I've seen routers fail due to overheating in normal house temperatures. The temperature extremes will not be kind to the equipment and it will likely fail. When you say that you won't put any computer hardware there, you might not realize that inside the router there is a processor. That processor usually needs cooling and it won't be able to do so.

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Yeah I know a router contains a processor etc. My point was there wouldn't be any high-power devices up there (i.e. 800 watt PC power supply on a server kicking out a load of heat). It makes sense what you say about it failing sooner, though. I guess I better find an alternative method. It might be that I put the patch panel in the loft and just route a bunch of cables down to the room below and install routers/switches etc there. – Neil Barnwell Jan 25 '13 at 23:02
Yes. What will basically happen is that it'll fail sooner. How soon? hard to tell. If it has temperature monitoring it might even refuse to work at some point (which is better than just slowly failing without saying anything). – Gustavo Litovsky Jan 25 '13 at 23:04
@Neil Barnwell Do note that although routers have processors that heat up less, they usually have little or no cooling provisions. For example, my room temperature is right now 23.3 C and the temperature inside my router is 43.1 C. Temperature of the system on a chip will be even higher than that and it could easily go uncomfortably high in the summer. – AndrejaKo Jan 25 '13 at 23:06
If a router is failing due to normal house temperatures, then either it was placed wrong or it was a low-quality unit. It doesn't seem likely that the router/switch will get SO hot that they fail. So long as he mounts them in free air, and not enclosed and ideally not stacked on each other... convection should do its job, along with any fans in the router/switch. – Toby Lawrence Jan 25 '13 at 23:14
We aren't talking about normal house temperature, though. We're talking about attic temperature. For example, here's a graph of temperature differences in Balerno Scotland showing temps 15C higher in the attic than the rest of the house. Depending on your specific house and location, it could be more. – Alan Shutko Jan 26 '13 at 0:19

I would not generally dismiss the loft as an option.

Have a look at OVH how they are handling their container data center. Maybe you can apply some of their solutions in your situation, while making sure that your hardware is protected from causing major damage.

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I'd do it personally, and keep a mental eye on it for a whole (a few years=) to be aware if it was more contankerous than you'd expect. My home WiFi/ADSL modem router located in a non-airconditioned dining room (never under 5C never over 30C) crashes mainly one monthly and an 8 port switch maybe every 6 months.

I'd expect it to be OK if you were sensible. After all, how hot can it get in England? :-). Seriously, if it was not insulated more than minimally I'd expect heat not to be an issue short term. Long term, electrolytic capacitors will halve in lifetime per 10 C rise in operating temperature. It may not use ecaps and you'd hope none were stressed highly - so not very hot so long life.

If it had minimal but some insulation from surroundings (say plastic case that stops convection and gives own heat a very mild barrier to cross) it should take the edge of British winters. Batteries dislike sub zero temperatures usually. Probably OK for backup batteries where power is low.

I'd not expect condensation to be much more of a problem than elsewhere. If you looked in the attic and there was a glass tumbler there - would you expect it to ever be fogged with condensation. Local conditions may make that ayes but usually I'd expect no.

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