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Cooling A Media Component Cabinet

It is desirable to place media components (receiver, DVD player, Roku HD-1000) in a cabinet to:
  • Keep them clean and free from dust
  • Put them on shelves to keep them from being in physical contact
  • To improve aesthetics
However, typical cabinets have little to no ventilation. With modern components using passive cooling to keep noise down, while heat output has risen significantly, temperatures in a cabinet can rise to a level which can cause components to malfunction.

However, it is not difficult to add cooling fans to a cabinet. AC cooling fans can be purchased at Radio Shack and other sources. These don't require DC adapters. A switch can be added so that the fans can be turned on or off at will. Ideally a temperature sensor would be added, causing the fan(s) to turn on only when the temperature exceeded a threshold. A complete but more expensive solution is available from Middle Atlantic, $95 for the temperature controller (FC-4-1C), $30 for the Sunon SP103A-1123LBT.GN fan from Digikey. (I used to recommend the $30 fan from StayOnline, but the Sunon fan is much quieter.) I use such a combination and it works as intended, turning on the cooling fan when the temperature exceeds a threshold. If the temperature is at the low end of the range, it operates the fans slowly, keeping them quiet.

I have a single Sunon fan controlled by the Middle Atlantic temperature controller. It comes on when the temperature rises too high and keeps the enclosed cabinet cool. The fan is barely noticeable when running.

Oriental Motor also appears to have a thermostat/fan combination, and it is less expensive. I haven't tried it myself, though.

Common fans for this purpose are around 4.5 inches (120mm or 119mm) on a side, and should be as quiet as possible, preferably under 30 decibels.

Last modified on 18 Apr 2009 by AO

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