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Water Cooling Computers With A Swimming Pool

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the take-your-pc-for-a-dip dept.

Hardware Hacking 241

guzugi writes "This is a project I have been working for several months and been hypothesizing for much longer. The basic idea is to shortcut the need for an air conditioner when cooling multiple computers. Swimming pool water is pumped into the house and through several waterblocks to effectively cool these hot machines. This greatly reduces noise cooling requirements."

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heated pool (5, Funny)

miowpurr (1004277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487830)

It would also be a cheaper way to heat your pool in the winter and make your neighbors jealous!

Re:heated pool (5, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488182)

Actually TFA's idea has merit, but if I was going to go through all that expense and work, I would have taken it one step farther and researched / built a heat exchanger like they use in nuclear reactors - the clorinated pool water stayes in a closed loop that runs through the heat exchanger and then back out to the pool, and in the other loop is a freshwater (or radiator fluid with anti-corrosive properties, or whatever best suits for liquid cooling computers) that cycles through the heat exchanger and then back to the computers.

The only additional expense / work would have been an additional pump for the closed loop on the computer side, and figuring out the heat exchanger. A small car radiator (for the pool loop) in a 55 gallon plastic trash can with in/out tubes for the computer loop (this makes it easy to add coolant to the computer loop) would have been a very good start. If the system ever needs a little help, just throw a ziploc bag full of ice-cubes into the trash can (a good way to keep the system up if the pool loop ever goes down, too.)

Then again everybody can be an armchair quarterback, I give the guy props for actually getting something done.

Re:heated pool (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488614)

If you go that far you might as well consider cooling the external coil of a decent size AC with pool water. In fact the mod is quite easy. You rip out the housing, chuck the fan out, pack the coil in a tank and hook up a pump to the relay used to drive the fan.

One of my dad friends in Russia had done that in his summer house for household hot water. He used the fridge external coil to preheat the water before the boiler unit. Worked quite well actually.

Re:heated pool (5, Funny)

ThePowerGorilla (930379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489030)

They actually sell 'Swimming Pool' Heat Exchangers. These are used so you can heat a pool with your boiler, but not let the corrosive pool water destroy your home heating system.

They have the added benefit of making it impossible to drain your whole pool into your house when a line breaks.

Re:heated pool (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17489066)

Why bother with it at all?

Between keeping the existing AC running during summer + buying some quiet fans to replace the noisy ones and:

-possibly running pool water inside, and the risk of having pool water leaks inside as chlorine corrodes stuff (NOT pretty!) and likely some condensation (risk of shorts and electrocution even - think about using GFIs)
-having to run pipes for heat exchange through holes in the wall of the house (no thanks!)
-having water tubing all over the place going to every computer (like the wires alone isn't bad enough, and it's not a good combo)
-risking the pipes blocking from something (like leaves or even a pinched hose) or running out of water (leak, pool level too low or something)
-risking the whole thing freezing over (guaranteed in some regions - unusable here in Canada)
-having to run multiple lines (one per PC?) if the water gets too hot after each computer (after a few it wouldn't really be cooling anymore)
-having to buy several hundreds of $ hardware (heat blocks, pumps, flow switches, lots of piping, insulation, heat exchanger, coolant, filtering system, etc) for a sub-par system/solution that will surely be problematic (it's just a matter of time)

I'd just forget about the whole thing, and buy some quiet fans (dirt cheap too). Anything more than that, and you setup a server away in the basement or something, and run some diskless PCs (booting off iSCSI or something) when possible and also use that server to hold everything that needs lots of disk space (media files, etc) to keep the amount of HDs spinning nearby as low as possible.

Re:heated pool (3, Informative)

excesspwr (218183) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489270)

Why bother with it at all? Which is basically "why climb a mountain?"

Because he can. Because it is there. Because you have got to do something with the time between birth and death.

Re:heated pool (2, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489454)

having to run multiple lines (one per PC?) if the water gets too hot after each computer (after a few it wouldn't really be cooling anymore)

Well, the setup shown in the photos has all the computers connected in parallel, so this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:heated pool (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489442)

I don't know how chlorinated water reacts with plastics. Would it be possible to take a few lengths of PVC pipe and submerge them in the pool?

Cheap way to flood his house!! (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488242)

What if he gets a leak on one of his computers? It looks like from his set up that the whole pool could then be pumped into his computer room. Condensation will also be a problem if his pool is colder than his house.

Re:Cheap way to flood his house!! (2, Informative)

Ira_Gaines (890529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488496)

If we knew how big the pool was, we could do the math to see how many gallons "8 inches of water" is to see exactly much would be pumped into his home.

Re:heated pool (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488648)

That is more than a joke CPUs are a very efficient heat source. Using a pile of CPUs to heat a pool might work out better than existing devices.
                        However the converse has a real limit. I live in Florida and there are many times during the year when the real problem is that pools get too hot. Water at 98* F is not that much fun in a pool. It is hard for a pool to drop below 65* F. during our worst cold spells. Most of the year the water is probably above 87*F so it is of little use for AC purposes.

Re:heated pool (2, Funny)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489312)

Well I hope his webserver isn't one of those machines... Making it to the /. front page, his kids are probably boiling quite nicely now otherwise!

noise cooling requirements? (4, Funny)

Mr Chund Man (1013539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487840)

Yeah, someone is gonna have to fill me in. How does one cool noise?

Re:noise cooling requirements? (5, Funny)

Otto-Marrakech (989922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487944)

Two words, Miles Davis.

Pool water? (4, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487858)

Because I always choose clorinated water to ensure the maximum corrosion in my computer's cooling system.

Re:Pool water? (5, Funny)

Batou (532120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487902)

... not to mention peeing in the pool ...

Re:Pool water? (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488008)

I had a job cleaning pools when I was a kid. I would worry about algae and other slime. It grows everywhere and needs to be cleaned out regularly.

Re:Pool water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488572)

whoops -- ignore this -- just removing a mod.

Re:Pool water? (3, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488048)

I'd be inclined to build a heat exchanger to couple water from the pool into a cooling loop for the PCs.

at least he's not using graywater (or blackwater) (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488096)

for you non-plumbing types:

graywater []

blackwater []

He needs a heat exchanger... (4, Insightful)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488282)

To avoid the problems with chlorinated pool water corroding the waterblocks and other hardware, he really needs to install a water-to-water heat exchanger in the system. Pool water would run in the primary side of the exchanger, with distilled water or glycol on the computer side. A second circulating pump would also be needed.

Re:Pool water? (2, Interesting)

drxenos (573895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488396)

As an inground pool owner myself, I can tell you that clorinated water will not cause corrosion. After all, your ladders have metal legs. Corrosion is caused when your PH balance or alkalinity (measured in ppm) are off. Of course clorine is a little basic, so you have to take that into account when balancing your water, but once balanced, the clorine will not rust your metal.

Re:Pool water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488516)

Perhaps you mean chlorine is acidic?

Re:Pool water? (2, Informative)

drxenos (573895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488706)

No, I mean't what I said. Chlorine is NOT acidic. It is basic (a base). It is on the opposite end of the PH scale from acids.

Chloride is basic, chlorine is acidic (3, Informative)

littleghoti (637230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489044)

Elemental chlorine is an acidic gas. If you use a solid to treat a pool, then the material is a chloride compound, and is basic. Isn't chemistry fun?

Re:Pool water? (1)

Aczlan (636310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488942)

most ladders have STAINLESS STEEL legs, thus they don't corrode

Re:Pool water? (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489012)

Oh no? Put them in improper balanced water and then come talk to me. Believe me, I know. It is a misconception that stainless steel will not rust.

Newsflash: not all pools use chlorine (4, Informative)

sczimme (603413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489382)

Because I always choose clorinated water to ensure the maximum corrosion in my computer's cooling system

Believe it or not, there are pool chemical suites that do not use chlorine. For example, the one I use includes a very strong (90+%) hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer.


macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487864)

This is a very simple test with a bucket of water and a single water block. The water in the bucket reaches equilibrium at about 96 F and thus evaporates quite quickly.

If it works fine with a bucket, why do you have to use an entire swimming pool?

Re:FROM TFA (3, Interesting)

baryon351 (626717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487898)

If it works fine with a bucket, why do you have to use an entire swimming pool?

By the look of the setup in the article, multiple CPUs are tapped into the line from the pool, potentially dozens all in the same room, all watercooled from the same water source. The bucket did well for just one, but not multiples.

Re:FROM TFA (2, Informative)

ragedriven (1047722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488252)

well if you are familiar with the concept of infinite heat would know...additionally, if the coolingloop were even able to change the temperature of the pool...the radiant heat exchange from the surface area of the pool would counter this.


Viper_Viper (881780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489074)

Well, From TFA

"The water in the bucket reaches equilibrium at about 96 F and thus evaporates quite quickly."


Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489190)

My computer uses the Zalman Reserator [] fanless water cooling system which has an almost 2-foot tall finned aluminum water tank. That would probably be much like the single bucket of water test. The Zalman Reserator is somewhat expensive, but after having once owned a noisy computer, I was willing to pay the extra cost to build one that is totally quiet. I have been using an earlier version of the Reserator for about two years now and it runs cool and is almost totally quiet. A newer version of their product is called the Reserator II []

An aquarium could probably be used instead. Perhaps they could even have a fish highway [] with clear acrylic pipes running from one aquarium to another aquarium in another room. What would a person's wife think of that? At least the kids would probably approve. Someone actually even wrote a book on building fish highways, but it wasn't intended to be part of a water cooling system for a computer. Whatever you do make sure that you can't accidentally turn the computer on without the silent water cooling at the same time. I have the water pump plugged into the UPS so that water cooling continues, while the computer is still running, during the typical brief power failures that occur during during summer thunderstorms.

"Yer In" Trouble! (1)

terrahertz (911030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487870)

Did your build calculations and choice of materials reflect a liberal estimate of the amount of...erm...bodily fluids from nasty/lazy swimmers? I don't know what the effect of those fluids would be on lines meant to carry strictly water (or even strictly chlorinated pool water), but it's probably worth pondering. :)

Re:"Yer In" Trouble! (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487878)

Chlorine oxidizes bodily waste.

Re:"Yer In" Trouble! (5, Funny)

terrahertz (911030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487886)

Dude, do not underestimate the power of a child's full bladder.

meaning... (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487874)

This greatly reduces noise cooling requirements.

So, if it reduces "noise cooling requirements", this means that users are OK with having their computers run hotter and be noisier if they are cooled with swimming pool water? I don't see why.

(If you mean "cooling with swimming pool water is less noisy than cooling with fans", say so.)

Re:meaning... (1)

BrainstormOC (700265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488638)

whiner- stop flaming and griefing. you know what he meant.

My favorite quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17487876)

Special care was taken to ensure the pump was located below water level. This will gurantee the pump can never run dry.

That is true, until all the water from the pool has made a one-way trip into your house thanks to a failure in the line. Of course, replacing a bad pump is the least of your worries at that point.

Tropical aquarium (4, Interesting)

Zzeep (682115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487892)

Once I had the idea to cool my computer with water from my tropical aquarium. Or, to put it the other way, heat my tropical aquarium with the heat generated by the computer. I didn't implement the project because the aquarium was nowhere near the computer, moving them closer together wasn't feasible, and I didn't feel like putting a hose through the living room just for this project. So this project is filed with the dozen of other cool projects to do later in life.

Turn it off. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17487896)

Turn it off. Right now.

Chlorine. Bird droppings. Leaves in the pool. Human sweat, with its high salt content. Algae heaven. That setup is going to provide very effective cooling for a couple of months before something corrodes through - and when it does, you will have a leak. Possibly a big leak - and a leak that will not stop flowing until the pool is empty, potentially enough water to flood your house.

Re:Turn it off. (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487934)

I agree. You'd be FAR better off with a semi-elaborate radiator system than with pool water and all the corrosive materials.

Take what you've done and get a (preferably new) truck radiator and rig THAT up as your means of cooling off the water. Make the water as pure as possible. Life will get better after that. And if you insist on using the pool for this novel purpose, then put your radiator in the pool. The heat from the water in the radiator will be absorbed by the pool water. But even then you can expect the pool water to eat through to radiator material.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

fizzup (788545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489136)

I think that one of the benefits of this system is that it heats the swimming pool. One could use still use the pool water as the heat sink, rather than lose the heat to the air. If the radiator is in a water bath, it doesn't have to be a truck radiator. It could be an old heat register from a hot water heating system, or even just a pipe. You could paint it with pool paint and keep it clean.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

Graphic_Content (1047676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488052)

I think this is a great idea actually. Keep the pool warm, even at night when temperatures drop and the body of water is large enough to continuously stay cool enough to help the temperatures for the computers. But, if corrosion is a problem, you just need to pay attention to the tubing. Once it gets noticeably weaker, just replace them. Wouldn't be a problem for someone with a pool that nice, haha.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

Ira_Gaines (890529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488420)

He would have to have a lot of computers to generate enough heat to affect the temperature of the pool water.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488666)

Do it on a large scale then. Cooling is a big problem in data centres. The Manchester Computing super-computing centre is located under a little terraced area with a pond in the middle, and someone (jokingly, I hope) told me this was so that a fire would cause a load of water to be emptied on to the source. I don't see why you couldn't build a data centre next to a leisure centre, and use one to cool the other.

Re:Turn it off. (4, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489428)

The Manchester Computing super-computing centre is located under a little terraced area with a pond in the middle, and someone (jokingly, I hope) told me this was so that a fire would cause a load of water to be emptied on to the source.

Water is commonly used for fire suppression in data centres these days (although it won't come from a pond). When a fire is detected, automatically kill the power and douse the area with a fine mist of deionised water. It's very effective, generally doesn't damage equipment and (unlike halon) is safe for any people who are in the area and is environmentally friendly.

Re:Turn it off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17489380)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster ...

Re:Turn it off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488084)

Agreed. At the very least, this guy needs a heat exchanger of some sort between the computers and the pool so that he can use clean water in the computers. He could use regular water with an anti-corrosion additive such as Fernox (intended for central heating systems).

Re:Turn it off. (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488086)

I'd assume, by looking at his little illustrations that he's tapping into the supply after it's been filtered.

also, because of the chlorine, algae isn't gonna grow.

Re:Turn it off. (5, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488348)

Chlorine is highly corrosive. Ever wonder why everything in a pool system is made of or coated in plastic?

The chlorine attacks iron even in ally form, rotting stainless steel at an alarming rate. It will also react with copper (slowly, but the higher temeratures in the water block are going to help it along) to dissolve the copper into a Copper (II) Chloride solution. That corrodes the copper waterblock and puts the copper into his pool - not good. Aluminum will cause a reaction to make aluminum chloride, and reacting with the water to ultimately form aluminum oxide (which will fall out of solution and likely clog and small passages over time) and hydochloric acid.

You need a heat exchanger to keep the chlorine away from metals. That means a non-metallic heat exchanger or one that's been coated with a chlorine resistent material.

A better solution would be to get an aftermarket automotive radiator and an electric fan, and use clean water (distilled or at least low mineral) with a coolant solution specifically designed to prevent corrosion.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

The PS3 Will Fail (998952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488568)

"Ever wonder why everything in a pool system is made of or coated in plastic?"
I've seen plenty of metal ladders that weren't coated in any form of plastic. Why don't they corrode?

Re:Turn it off. (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488700)

Because the ladders are generally made of anodized aluminum, which gives it a hard, protective coating of aluminum oxide, and the generally cool temperature of the pool water helps to retard any chemical reaction that might happen.


Re:Turn it off. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489196)

I'd assume, by looking at his little illustrations that he's tapping into the supply after it's been filtered. also, because of the chlorine, algae isn't gonna grow.
That's all fine, in theory, but ... First off, the filter isn't perfect, and it might operate more or less effectively, depending on whether you have the right amount of diatomaceous earth in it, how long it's been since you backwashed, and whether you have any holes in your grid. Also, chlorine doesn't eliminate algae completely, it just reduces the amount and slows its growth.

Two Words (3, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488166)

Heat Exchanger
Just because you're using the pool as a heat sink doesn't mean you have to run the actual pool water through your computer.

Now, this guy doesn't seem to have caught on to that, but it's not a totally implausible solution. Keeping the heat in water, even through an exchanger, is still more efficient than trying to dump the heat directly to the air, at least until you build a radiator the size of your pool.

Re:Two Words (1)

GnarlyNome (660878) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488422)

Not totally impractable 1 lb of water will rise in tempetaure 1 deg F for every BTU so using a water to water NOT a Radiator and a pair if small 1/200 hp circulating pumps pushing the water around in a closed loop system he would get a consistant operating temp btw propalyne glycol/water mix in the computer side of the loop will stop any corrosion problems
the W.W. Grainger Co has most of the parts in their catalog
Depending on how far you have to run your cooilng lines [I would suggest using 1/2 hard copper for most of it] it is very feasable

RIt won't empty the pool. (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488678)

As pointed out in TFA, the pool plumbing is connected at the skimmer level which only has the potential to drain the first 8 inches of pool water before the pick-up surfaces. Still, it would be more than a small damp patch if it leaked in the house.

I completely agree that running pool water through water blocks to cool computers is a Daft Idea(tm). A heat-exchanger linked in somewhere near the pool or one actually in the pool would be a better idea, preferrably with some ethylene glycol mixed in on the water-blocks side to avoid potential frozen and cracked pipes in the winters of colder climates.

Re:RIt won't empty the pool. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488798)

Yes, it can drain the whole pool.

If the filter is running, it will suck water from the bottom of the pool and run it back through the return lines he is connected into. Thus, if the filter runs, it can pump all of the water out of the entire pool eventually.

Re:RIt won't empty the pool. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489232)

Maybe your pool is different from mine, but in my pool, the intake is at the top, and the return is at the bottom. The intake is through a skimmer that's set into the pool deck, very close to the top of the water level. In the summer, in fact, I have to be careful to keep the water high enough so the intake is submerged.

Re:Turn it off. (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489332)

Good point, but there is a very easy solution.

When I worked as an electronics engineer many years ago in NYC, one of my fellow engineers had done some work for the Navy where they needed a raft floating in the ocean covered with copper. They also have similar corrosion problems with large steel ships that float in the ocean.

The solution to stop the copper from corroding was to attach an electrode to the copper sheet that was made of a different metal with a different electrovalence (or whatever) so this electrode was the piece that corroded instead of the copper.

You do have to be religious about replacing the electrode before it corrodes away. Some sort of safety interlock would be a good idea. They forgot to replace the electrode once. They found out about the missing electrode when the copper sheet disappeared.

You raise a valid problem but it is not insoluble. :)

Chemistry? (3, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487904)

I'd be inclined to talk to a chemist and/or a metallurgist about compatibility between the pool chemicals (chlorine, various hypochlorites, carbonates, bisulfates, etc.) and your waterblocks.


Re:Chemistry? (2, Insightful)

jbengt (874751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488064)

Well, according to TFA, he already corroded the aluminum blocks and replaced them with acrylic. He doesn't seem to have learned, though, as he's talking about submerging his houses A/C condenser coil (typically copper tubes, aluminum fins). Guess it'll take a little longer for him to find out about other incompatibilities.

Re:Chemistry? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488122)

He mentioned already that the tops of his waterblocks corroded, so he replaced them with acrylic. Pool water just isn't all that nice a solution in general; he'd be much better off with a heat exchanger setup, so he could run distilled water with the usual anti-algae chemicals in the cooling loop (I'm guessing that enough watercooling additve to mix a pool is both cost prohibitive and not very healthy to swim in).

Re:Chemistry? (0)

Taimat (944976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489082)

He better make sure he checks the PHP Balance of those machines at least once a week. :)

Some practical advice... (4, Insightful)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487950)

Watch out for condensation if your coolant (swimming pool water) is colder than room temperature! You don't need crazy temp differentials to cool a CPU. If you pull water from outside, odds are it will be colder than the air around your water block. This can cause all sorts of problems. Room temperature water is even easier to deal with than cold water. If you are just looking for quiet operation rather than crazy overclocks, you won't need the pool.

Plan for a bit of condensation. Flip your motherboards around so if drops of water (*god forbid*) were to form, they drop away from the mainboard. Water from condensation tends to be pure enough that it won't short out your system as easy as one might think. Still... bad things can happen.

Also, you will want some sort of anti-crap mixed into your water, or you can get all sorts of funky growth. More of an issue for closed systems than water from a swimming pool (with all the CL, etc). Be sure your piping can handle that. I've seen folks use hose that did deteriorate over time. Not pretty. A clogged 'artery' on a heat sink will kill your system dead. Non-conductive anti-crap additive is a really good idea.

Lastly, if the water pump dies, everything else will die. Make sure you have some sort of kill switch so all your hardware shuts down if you lose water flow.

Check out the overclockers forums out there. While you don't need the extreme lower temperatures, a big radiator and large low RPM fan in another room make for a very quite office environment.

Re:Some practical advice... (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488618)

Lastly, if the water pump dies, everything else will die. Make sure you have some sort of kill switch so all your hardware shuts down if you lose water flow.
Would it be possible to design a system so that, if the pump dies, water still circulates through thermosyphon effect?

This may not save you any money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17487966)

With an air conditioner, you would cool the whole server room and maybe pump cold air directly through the raised floor to the computers. With swimming pool cooling, you would pipe water to the computers. Thermally, this is attractive but the plumbing could get ugly and expensive really fast. Running pipes is more expensive than running wires. Also, the pipes would have to be insulated or the heat from the computers would just re-radiate from the pipes indoors. You wouldn't hook the pool water directly through each computer. You would use heat exchangers. What a pain.

What I would do though is use a heat pump. It is like an air conditioner except that the heat goes into ground water (or pool water in your case) rather than the outside air. It is much more efficient than regular air conditioning and will save you money.

Re:This may not save you any money (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488162)

The scary part is that he IS running pool water straight to the computers. Interesting point about the radiated heat from the pipes though; from the pictures it's all uninsulated copper on the indoor portion of the system. As for building a heat pump, his next plan is to immerse the radiator from his air conditioner in pool water, with an aim at increased efficiency. Probably would have been a better idea just to do that project, and A/C the computer room rather than build this plumbing nightmare.

wrong pump (4, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487968)

The pump is a Grundfos hot water recirculating pump. This type of pump is ideal because it is designed for continuous operation and has very small power requirements (~85 watts). This pump is not approved for outdoor use, so a waterproof box had to be constructed from sheet ABS plastic.

And here we have the first potential failure in the chain.
Putting it in 'a waterproof box' is not the same as using a pump designed for outdoor use. Condensation inside the box WILL kill it.

Re:wrong pump (3, Insightful)

fractilian (704807) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488114)

Depending on temperature conditions the heat would build up in the box also, cutting the lifespan of the motor down. Since he has a pool to begin with I would assume he lives in a area with hot summer temperatures. Just my two cents(probably not even worth that).

Re:wrong pump (1)

edwazere (87203) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488768)

I seriously doubt it. Those pumps are bulletproof.

My Dad's fish pond runs on 6 of them, and he has to change them/fix them maybe once every 5 years.

I've seen them running basically underwater, so a bit of condensation is unlikely to be a worry.

However, I'd personally be more worried about the colour of the pool water, as the impellors of (most of) those pumps, and the body is made of cast iron. Pretty colours with the chlorine.

Great idea (1)

wojtalsd (1005693) | more than 7 years ago | (#17487998)

On a submarine we use water to cool 90% of our electronic equipment. Main difference we use fresh water and not chlorinated. Since it seems that your main supply and return lines are constructed of PVC which thats what the pools plumbing is made of you should have no problem. Im not sure about the copper piping and the effects of chlorine. I wouldn't think it would be a problem since alot of well water systems have copper lines and the water is slightly chlorinated. Guess thats just my two cents!

Really cool idea (1)

JayTech (935793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488016)

Wow, this is a really cool idea. Pun intended. I wonder how much it cost the guy to set up.

Re:Really cool idea (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488224)

Probably far more that it is actually worth.

85 Watts! (3, Informative)

MegMuffin (1047704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488028)

From TFA, it would seem that the authour wants to have a cheap way of cooling his system. 85W is a considerable cost. A lot of fans could be run with that amount, and "silent" fans thesedays are getting to be VERY quiet.

Re:85 Watts! (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17489212)

The old addage "2W of cooling for 1W of computer" holds true, if you keep 3-5 systems inside a house you will either:

A. need to leave an air con on low all the time (variable speed or "inverter" style ones are best)

B. deal with a stinking hot room and the possibility of cooked parts every now and again

100W of cooling seems like a good way to cool 300-500W of CPUs, maybe a heat exchanger (yeah, second pump needed) to keep the nasty chemicals away from the PCs, and of course have current monitoring on the pumps so if they stop (fuse or break) you can have your PCs shut down automagically, a USB keyboard cut down and the power key wired up to some logic will handle that quite well :)

Maybe some stop valves on each PC terminal, and some quick disconnect fittings would be a good idea, and a self bleeding system would be a good idea.

Another thought, what if all the PCs cooling blocks get blocked at once? you are going to have a pump without cooling.... BOOM. Fit a pressure valve and have the cold line lead through to the hot side if head pressure gets over norm :)

May I suggest (1)

compandsci (1045690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488060)

The use of two separate water systems to avoid corrosion and condensation in your computer. Use a real water-cooling system and let its water be cooled down by pool water without blending the liquids. A long metal pipe sinked in incoming pool water will do. This , of course , only makes sense if you have lots of computers in a room so that the air circulation in the room isn't sufficient to cool the radiators belonging to the water cooling systems.

Seperate cooling water from pool water. (1)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488062)

I am far from an expert on this, but if I was to build a system like this I would keep the pool water out of the cooling system and just put some kind of radiator in the pool, that way you keep the water going into the piping and cooling systems clean and you still get the heat transferred into the pool like you want.

sounds feasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488078)

if by treating the pool as an infinite heat resevior... and with a fast enough flow, the computers would take on the temperature of the pool...assuming that you aren't running too much noninsulated tubing through the heated house, it should significantly cool better than any radiator you could install. the reaction of the chlorinated water on the water blocks shouldn't be significant...the pump used to overcome the hydraulic head must be powerful...and hopefully it is outside...and not the pool pump! the pressure head from the pool pump would unduely wear out any internal connections...and any small leak would reak havoc.

Heat Exchanger (2, Insightful)

prothid (302906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488082)

This is a neat idea, but as pointed out in other posts, there are some serious drawbacks as far as corrosion and other contaminants in the water. Have you considered using a heat exchanger? This would isolate you from pool water and you could fill the lines with clean water to avoid all of these issues.

Must have been in the Navy (3, Interesting)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488088)

When I was in the Navy, most of our critical systems, especially combat system computers, consoles, and the like, were water cooled. What the heck, we were generally surrounded by the stuff. Then again on a warship we had the plumbing, back-up systems, and the personnel to handle everything from routine maintenance to casualty repair. I'd hate to see the effects of an earthquake, pipe freeze/burst, or an electrical outage. Did this guy say he lives in California?

Re:Must have been in the Navy (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488250)

Did this guy say he lives in California?

I don't know, but just from the nature of the project I think we can be pretty sure that he does.

Re:Must have been in the Navy (2, Funny)

wesborgmandvm (893569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488940)

Did this guy say he lives in California?

he's cooling his computer with his pool, He MUST BE from California :)

Re:Must have been in the Navy (1)

annenk38 (163418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488990)

..and the personnel to handle everything from routine maintenance to casualty repair.
Sure you have 'em... That's why the "bug juice" we had to drink on Saipan tasted like hydraulic fluid; but hey, all the testing equipment showed the water's fine!

thi5 FP for GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488128)

Core team. Th.3y []

Fish Like This Idea As Well (2, Interesting)

Ed Almos (584864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488286)

I did something similar with a large tank of tropical fish, the heat from the computer supplements that provided by the tank water heater. Note that this is a LARGE tank, about 3 foot x 2 foot x six foot in US measurements, don't try this with a smaller tank or you will have boiled fish for tea.

Ed Almos
Budapest, Hungary

Re:Fish Like This Idea As Well (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17489318)

REally? because I bet you could not raise the temperature to more than 85 deg if the ambient is 70 deg in a 6 gallon tank with your computer.

6 gallons of water is a LOT of thermal mass, putting in into a cooling tank with an open top is a really big thermal release.

Althoguh most of you here know incredibly litte about physics and chemistry so it's no suprise there.

Your "uber PC" could be easily coold with probably 3 gallons of water in a open tank as the only cooling vessel. evaporation is far more efficient of a cooling system than anything you can buy... Yes even the uber watercooling systems for sale SUCK compared to the 10X more efficient evaporation systems.

Which is why they have been in use for hundreds of years. News for Nerds, stuff from ancient times.

Safeguards? (3, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488294)

1. Two of the photos shows water piping (including hose connections) right above a set of power outlets. Any leakage here will guarantee a short.

2. I don't see any sensors that will shut off the pump and computers, should the circuit run dry. Water leaks in the house are messy.

Accidents? (2, Insightful)

mano_k (588614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488308)

That reminds me of a friend who was quite proud of his fanless water cooling solution which worked with several litres of water as heat dump in a container sitting under his desk.

When one of the main pipes got loose somehow, it not only fried some hardware, but majorely pissed of his landlord...

Urgh! Very bad design! (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488322)

Pumping contaminated swimming pool water directly into sensitive cooling equipment is plain incompetent. Sorry about this hard statement.

  • Corrosion. Unless you want to dump some few thousand liters of anti-corrosion fluid into your pool? And what do you use to clear you pool? Clorine? Ozone? Both a very bad idea in a cooling circuit....
  • Clogging: Even with filters, something will be getting through may well cause problems up to completely ineffectiveness
  • Air buildup. Air will disolve in the water outside and may accumulate in the computers.

The right way to do this is with a heat exchanger that is robust on the swimming-pool side and has conditioned water in a closed circuit on the other side. Requires two pumps, but has a change of working longer than a few (if that) months.

I tried water-cooling some time ago. (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488434)

About ten years ago or thereabouts, I watercooled a system by welding two pieces of copper tubing to a thin CPU-sized copper plate. I then used rubber tubing to run water from two buckets through the copper tubes. I used the siphon effect (one bucket high, one bucket low) and it worked fantastically well for a couple of hours (the CPU was at room temperature) until the water in the upper bucket ran out and I smelled something getting hot. Then I frantically moved the buckets around and got another couple of hours. I was impressed with how little water flow was required (I never bothered with a recirculating pump since it was just a way to kill an afternoon. I tried overclocking (a pain in the neck back then ... motherboard jumpers out the yin-yang) and did get an extra 20% or so, if I remember correctly. I think it only a P133 or something like that.

interesting, but why bother? (1)

hb253 (764272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488480)

Two ball valves were installed to allow easy shutoff close to the computers as well as a gate valve which allows precise bypass control. This way, computer connections can be exchanged without the need to shut off the cooling pump.

One tiny flaw. Gate valves are shutoff valves. They offer pretty much no flow control whatsoever. If he wanted control, he should have used a globe valve.

I give the whole effort lots of geek points. However, I doubt very much the cost of the project is worth it.

Rubbging Chin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488492)

I can't swim but now I have a reason to own a swimming pool.

Bump this one up!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488498)

Proof that Slashdot is only for cranks of the highest caliber.

Unnecessarily risky and you don't need a pool. (1)

non-sequitur (179054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488656)

As so many others pointed out, you absolutely don't want to pump that open (and unclean) water through the system.

Keep a closed system, with an simple reservoir / filling system. Pure water, with watter-wetter, or maybe even some safe antifreeze.

But the important thing here is, you don't need the pool! Liquid heat transfer is awesome, due to the efficeincy of heat transfer, but overkill.
You can easily get along with a long buried copper pipe around the yard(it doesn't even have to be below the frost line if you use some type of antifreeze - no need for automotive stuff either).
For that mattter, a decent length of copper coil on a transfer plate (aluminum for instance) exposed on a wall would be fine for even several gaming computers.
And a radiator just outside the domicile (or in the basement, etc) with or whithout a cooling fan is usually overkill.
We're talking about 500W/system, not 100HP!

I understand the desire to plumb in the pool water, since it's there, but this is clearly a case when doing it "better" would be easier.

  - in my opinion.

Cooling with outside heat sinks. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488986)

As everyone with a clue points out, he needs a heat exchanger in there somewhere.

Control Data, in Chippewa Falls, MN, used to use an outside water cooling loop which pumped warm water into the ground via one well, and pulled in cold water via another well. Ground temperature a few hundred feet down was relatively constant year round.

I once worked at a large industrial R&D center which had a sizable decorative pond with water spraying into the air in front of the building. This was actually a heat sink for the dummy loads on hydraulic transmissions. (The plant ran life cycle tests on units up to locomotive transmissions.)

But these were facilities that needed to dump tens of megawatts of heat. For a few hundred watts, it's silly.

Guarantees of Future Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17489144)

Locating the water pipes above the the computers is bad. He should have the computers and electricity elevated above the floor and cooling pipes. Looks like he's designed an empty swimming pool with the computers on the bottom.

I can't even get a home air heat exchanger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17489294)

recently did some renonvations including adding air exhaust and intake so i asked everyone from the coring guy, the ducting installers to numerous local established HVAC stores

the result - blank stares

in truth, modern homes all waste most heat simply due to lack of any effort on the part of anyone doing anything at all

personally, i'm ashamed of how poorly, as a society, that we're doing
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