8 Best Server Room Air Conditioners (For Cooling Computers)

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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As someone who's installed more than a few air conditioning units in server rooms, I understand the critical importance of a reliable cooling solution for your servers.

Overheating is not an option for these high-performance machines, and maintaining optimal conditions is beyond essential.

One slip, and your precious data is gone.

That said, allow me to show you the best air conditioners and cooling systems to keep your server room nice and cool.

Quick Glance - My Recommendations

Tripp Lite Cooling Unit Air Conditioner for...

Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM

Best Rack-Mounted for Server Rooms

Tripp Lite Portable Air Conditioner for...

Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K

Best for Server Racks

KwiKool KIB6023 Air-Cooled 5 ton Portable Air...

KwiKool KIB6023

Best Commercial AC for Large Server Room

8 Best Server Room Air Conditioners On The Market

Here are the best air conditioners suitable for server rooms of all sizes.

1 - Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM

4.5

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.0

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4.5

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Value for Money

5.0

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Who is Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM best for?

Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM is for everyone with a single-rack setup looking for the most efficient cooling solution.

Pros
  • Easy to install w/ an easy-to-follow manual
  • Super-efficient close-coupled cooling
  • More powerful than it seems
  • Affordable and cost-effective product
  • Ideal for small, cramped spaces
CONS
  • 1-year warranty

The Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM is my absolute favorite server AC because it's built to cool down server racks most efficiently.

What I mean by this is that instead of figuring out the best positioning to ensure proper cooling and air circulation, you just place this one on top of a server enclosure, attach the mounting brackets to the unit and the rack, route the vent up your ceiling, and you’re halfway there.

And if you’re worried about compatibility issues – you really shouldn’t be.

The mounting holes on the bracket will align with any Tripp Lite rack; if you don't have one, all it takes is to drill a hole in your top cover.

Once mounting is done, all you need to do is add a directional vent that attaches magnetically to the rack door and blows the cold air directly at the servers, and you’re all set.

I know that 2000 BTU might seem low to you, but keep in mind this is close-coupled cooling we're talking about, so 2000 BTU is way more than enough, as this thing won't chill an entire room but rather just the rack.

Also, once you cut the magnetic door panel (that comes included) to size to seal the front of your rack to prevent warm air from being sucked in – you’ll have yourself one happy, sub-75-degree rack.

One thing I see people worry about with this model is that EER isn't disclosed anywhere. I think Tripp Lite did that on purpose.

You see, the EER of this one's just 7.3, which isn't exactly considered good.

However, I wouldn’t stress about it.

The SRCOOL2KWM will only consume about $250 of electricity annually, making it one of the most cost-effective air conditioner units.

Another thing I love about this one is the built-in evaporator which eliminates the need for a drain tube or water collection tank, effectively minimizing the chance of a leak that could kill your equipment.

Still, if you want to, there is a drain outlet that you could use.

Finally, I want to talk about the remote-control capabilities of this one.

At the top, right above the control panel with tactile buttons and a miniature screen, there’s a slot for an SRCOOLNET2 network card, which allows you to remote-manage and monitor the AC via SNMP, web, SSH, or telnet.
Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM controls

Now, while this is a very useful feature for handling multiple units inside a data center - if you simply have one unit and one server – I can’t quite justify spending an additional $400.

One thing I don’t like is a 1-year warranty.

While I generally don’t have any concerns about the longevity or quality of this product - I’d like to see at least two more years added to it.

For example, the DeLonghi EX390LVYN, which is just a regular portable AC unit, has a two-year warranty, which still isn't exceptional - but at least it's reasonable.

However, all in all - I'd say this is a near-perfect product.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

2,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

7.3

Coverage Area

Up to 80 sq ft

Installation

DIY


2 - Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K

4.3

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K best for?

Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K is for businesses and individuals with small to mid-sized server rooms housing multiple server racks.

Pros
  • Spot-cooling and room-cooling abilities
  • Easy installation
  • Affordable product compared to similarly powerful models
  • 2-year warranty
CONS
  • Auto-mode issues
  • Is pretty loud

Here we have another product from Tripp Lite - only this time, we’re dealing with a 12,2000 BTU spot cooler appropriately dubbed SRCOOL12K.

The main difference between SRCOOL12K and SRCOOL2KWM is that L12K will effectively cool the room as well as the server rack - allowing you to harness the best of both worlds and cool up to 400 sq ft.

In other words, if you're running a business and have a ton of equipment housed in several racks - it's a savvy and cost-effective decision to get one of these coolers instead of multiple 2KWMs.

Now, don't expect sub-70-degree temperatures in your server room - especially if you're housing a ton of equipment.

I’ve tested this one on more than a few occasions, and you can hold your room at around 75 degrees comfortably, but rarely lower than that.

And no, that’s not too hot. It’s more than optimal for modern systems.

On top of that, if you'd like to aim the cool air directly at the rack, this one comes with a short hose that you can attach to the cooling duct by simply removing the louvered vent and screwing it into it in probably less than two minutes.

However, I must say that you’re kind of underutilizing this AC if you do that, considering this is a lot more than just a single server rack air conditioner.

One thing I really want to emphasize how easy this thing is to set up.
Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K hose

You will get every single part with the AC, so you won't need to buy a hose or a window kit separately or use any tools, and if you follow the guide - it shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to get it up and running.

Both this and the previous product on our list include an environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant, which complies with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) standards.

 In other words, if you're all about eco-friendly practices - this one's not too shabby.

I also want to talk about the Dehumidify Mode, which has caused a few problems for a few people.

While this mode is not necessarily bad, it's kind of annoying, and it kind of goes back to the aforementioned - sub-70 "issue."

Basically, if you set the temperature below 70 degrees and you keep the AC in Auto Mode, it will usually switch to Dehumidify Mode very quickly, lowering the efficiency and cooling ability, which could be a problem during the summer.

My advice is to set the temperature to 70-75, set the fan speed to medium, and run the AC in Cool Mode, and you'll be golden.

Finally, unlike with our top pick, I'd buy the network card this time since you're more likely to use this one in a business setting where you can benefit from monitoring the operation.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

12,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

8.5

Coverage Area

Up to 400 sq ft

Installation

DIY


3 - KwiKool KIB6023

4.2

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.0

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is KwiKool KIB6023 best for?

KwiKool KIB6023 is the best option for large-scale server rooms and start-up data center operations.

Pros
  • Excellent cooling power
  • Very reliable and durable
  • High-tech controls and self-diagnostics
  • Easy maintenance once every few months
CONS
  • 1-year warranty
  • Expensive product and expensive accessories
  • Draws over 9 kW per hour

While it won't cool Google's data center, KwiKool KIB6023, despite its somewhat petite stature, can easily cool down any server room up to 2000 sq ft - no matter how much equipment you have in there!

And quite frankly, that’s the least it could do, given it is nearly 6 times more expensive than the Senville SENA-18HF/D - the second-most-powerful AC on our list.

So, what justifies this 5-figure price tag?

Well, first things first - this portable unit is the epitome of performance.

KIB6023 has two modes: Cool and Fan. All you need to do is set yours to Cool, set the temperature (it goes down to 60F, but I wouldn't go that low, as that could actually freeze up the evaporator coil in some cases), and the machine will do everything else.

It’ll start slow, ramp up if needed, and drop the fan speed back to low once it reaches the desired temperature.

And speaking of the desired temperature, 60,000 BTU means you can realistically keep a massive server room at 70-72 degrees if you want to.

Also, you get longevity and durability, which I'm very thankful for, considering you only get a 1-year warranty even though you're paying a premium.

Luckily, I've installed KwiKool KIB6023 on more than a few occasions over the years, and I never had to go back and fix the thing.

The only things regarding maintenance are filter replacements and the inspection (and, if necessary, adjustment) of the air supply drive belts every 60 days.

In most cases, I would just show my clients how to do both right away, as you really don’t need an HVAC guy for this.

One thing I have to mention is - you will need professional help to set this one up.

This one requires a 230V/40Amp 3 pH circuit to run, and no; you shouldn't find a video on how to do this yourself.

Once the power's sorted out, you can easily do the rest, as a pretty decent instruction manual comes with the AC.

What doesn't come with the AC is any of the relatively necessary accessories.

If you don't have a way to drain this big boy, you'll have to buy a $275 15-gallon condensation tank - which is ludicrous no matter how you look at it.

The same goes if you want a chute or a ceiling kit, which go for $395 and $595, respectively. That's just overpriced.

On a more positive note, this AC is packed with many useful features, from microprocessor controls and self-diagnostics to robust safety protocols, so unforeseen disasters like surges or condensation leakage shouldn't worry you.

This model will basically shut off if it senses a problem, and once it's back up and running - it'll just continue where it left off without you having to set it up again.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

60,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

8

Coverage Area

Up to 2000 sq ft

Installation

Professional


4 - DeLonghi EX390LVYN

4.3

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is DeLonghi EX390LVYN best for?

DeLonghi EX390LVYN is the best for those looking for a portable and affordable cooling solution.

Pros
  • Energy efficient - save up to $250 annually compared to similar models
  • A very quiet operation in Arctic Whisper Extreme mode
  • Easy to set up
  • Quite powerful for its compact size
CONS
  • Very short exhaust hose - around 45”
  • A bit overpriced for its intended purpose
  • Manual drainage once every three months

Despite its compact stature, the Pinguino, which is the nickname of this AC, is engineered to cool, filter, and dehumidify living spaces up to 700 square feet, making it a surprisingly effective choice for server rooms - albright smaller than that.

Realistically, you can cool around 500 sq ft effectively.

Now, its compact design ensures that it doesn't hog up precious space, which is, you’ll agree with me, usually a problem with at-home server rooms, so that’s great.

Performance-wise, the Pinguino's cooling capability is nothing short of impressive.

It handles server room heat loads easily, ensuring consistent, optimal temperatures and humidity levels to prevent overheating and related damage to your equipment.

And if, for some reason, that’s not enough - you simply aim the cool air directly at your server rack like some of the spot coolers on our list, namely, Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K.

And one more thing you’ll probably like is that while it's quite powerful, it's designed with living spaces in mind, meaning it operates rather quietly - especially in Arctic Whisper Extreme mode.

DeLonghi EX390LVYN mode

One feature that makes the DeLonghi EX390LVYN stand out and why I actually do recommend this one is its "ECO Real Feel" technology that promises up to a 30% reduction in energy consumption.

In my tests, the claims of up to a 30% reduction in energy consumption are pretty close.

They're not quite 30%, but according to my plug-in power meter, it draws about 220-250 kWh less in ECO Real Feel mode, saving you around $250 annually.

However - and I really don’t like this one - the unit's exhaust vent's length just makes no sense.

It's about 45 inches long when fully stretched, limiting your options unless you're willing to improvise, buy it separately, or keep the unit right next to a window, which you most likely don’t have in a server room.

Also, this may or may not bother you, but you should drain it once every three months to keep it running smoothly.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

14,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

10.5

Coverage Area

Up to 500 sq ft

Installation

DIY


5 - Senville SENA-18HF/D

4.3

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is Senville SENA-18HF/D best for?

Senville SENA-18HF/D is the best option for individuals and businesses with an existing central AC system.

Pros
  • Excellent EER & SEER offering long-term savings
  • 10-year warranty (10 on compressor, 5 on other parts)
  • Remote control through phone, Wi-Fi, Alexa
  • Very affordable for a dual-zone mini split
  • Installation kit & two remote controllers included
CONS
  • Some customers reported customer care and warranty issues
  • Overkill just for a server room

The only reason I haven't put SENA-18HF/D at the top is that you're sacrificing a bit of its functionality if you use them only for cooling a server room.

SENA-18HF/D is an 18,000 BTU mini-split pair (9000 BTU per unit) that can both cool and heat up your space.

Usually, units like these are part of a larger, central AC system designed to cool or warm up your entire house, office, building, etc.

So, if you’re up for a central AC system or you already have one - this is probably the best thing for cooling down servers you can buy.

Also, don’t worry if you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin - the outside unit can handle temperatures as low as -22 Fahrenheit.

Back to performance…It honestly doesn't matter if you have a lot of equipment inside of your server room or if you just have a single rack.

You can mount these on any wall and point them in any direction, ensuring your server intake fans suck cool air at all times.

Now, you’ve probably noticed this thing’s rated for up to 1250 sq ft. But remember - that’s for living space.

And I’m only saying this because if you have a 1000 sq ft server room filled to the brim - you’ll need more than two.

Honestly, I’d say you’re golden up to 600 sq ft with two of these.

As for setup, you'll need an HVAC guy. While you could technically DIY it, I'd urge you not to, as there's some wiring, refrigerant releasing, and other stuff involved that you wouldn't want to mess up.

Senville SENA-18HFD app

Finally, this is an inverter with a 13.3 EER/22.5 SEER, so it’s supposed to help you save a few bucks down the line - while already being quite affordable for a dual-zone mini split. [1]

Based on my math, you'll save 20, 25, or maybe even 30% on your electric bill compared to a similarly powerful model, which could be anywhere from several hundred to more than $1000 a year, depending on your needs.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

18,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

13.3

Coverage Area

Up to 600 sq ft

Installation

Professional


6 - MovinCool CM12

4.5

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.25

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Value for Money

4.75

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Who is MovinCool CM12 best for?

MovinCool CM12 is the best option for office buildings and commercial spaces with central AC systems.

Pros
  • Very low maintenance due to the simplicity of the product
  • Very durable and reliable, somewhat justifying the price tag
  • Easy to integrate with an already present AC system
  • Easily controlled via thermostat
  • Example text
CONS
  • Expensive compared to similar ceiling-mount ACs
  • 1-year warranty
  • No filtration or dehumidification

Ceiling-mounted AC like MovinCool's CM12 is a great solution when you’re pressed for space, but thankfully, you already have a carefully planned-out AC/vent system in place.

And yes, this is quite expensive, but it gets the job done and will last you for years and years.

I've installed these in an office building where I know they move a ton of data keeping their servers toasty all day long, and I'm yet to receive a call saying something’s wrong.

The reason for this is actually quite simple:

It's got everything you need for a smooth operation - a ton of power, efficient fans, and an EER rating you'll love every time the power bill comes around.

With 10.500 BTU, one of these units is more than capable enough of cooling any space up to 250 sq ft and keeping its temperature in the low 70s.

Furthermore, considering these mount right up the ceiling, it doesn’t really matter if you have a small or large server room - you can fit as many of these as you want in there without worrying about wasting precious space.

One thing to note is that while you certainly won’t “feel” the fans blasting air in as they’re only 700 CFM - that doesn’t mean they aren’t working.

700 CFM is more than enough to ensure proper air circulation and maintain optimal airflow and temperature in the room.

And sure, this AC doesn't filter and dehumidify the air, but how vital is that in an office-building server room?

When you can just set the thermostat to the desired temperature and go on about your day, you kind of don't care about that stuff, do you?

One bone I have to pick is the one I’ve already picked with our top pick Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM, and that’s warranty.

1-year is just not enough I'm not saying 10 years is the norm because SENA-18HF/D really knocks it out of the park there, but I need to see at least 3 years for a product this pricey.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

10,500

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

8.5

Coverage Area

Up to 250 sq ft

Installation

DIY/Professional


7 - Whynter ARC-14S

4.5

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is Whynter ARC-14S best for?

Whynter ARC-14S is the best option for those with mid-sized server rooms but a limited budget.

Pros
  • Excellent cooling ability
  • Quick and easy setup
  • Very affordable product
  • Washable, durable air filters
  • Remote controller included
CONS
  • Exhaust hoses should be longer
  • 1-year warranty on unit

Whynter ARC-14S is a 14,000 BTU portable AC that could easily handle up to 500 sq ft filled with heat-generating servers and all sorts of other computing equipment - ON A BUDGET.

Yes, that was CAPS-worthy, as this thing costs less than KwiKool’s ceiling kit.

As you might’ve noticed, this one has 14,000 BTU - just like DeLonghi EX390LVYN, so how do those two stack up?

As far as performance goes - these go toe-to-toe.

The only performance difference between the two is that this one does a fractionally better job of keeping air pressure stable - which honestly doesn’t really matter that much.
Whynter ARC-14S dual hose

I often tell people to get dual-hose ACs for living spaces because they're quite efficient and prevent things like negative air pressure, which could result in some temperature imbalances as the hot air gets sucked in from other parts of the house.

However, that's usually not a concern for a server room.

Why? Well, there's no way the rest of your house is warmer than your server room.

And if you’re curious about the usual bells and whistles these portable AC come with - this one also has them all.

It filters the air, dehumidifies it, can work as a fan-only, has a condenser, so you don't need to install a drainage hose, and it installs in about 10 minutes.

The similarities between Pinguino and Whynter don't stop there!

This one also has rather short hoses that are about 5 feet long, so you're kind of forced to keep it near a window or get separate ones if you want to vent them into a ceiling.

With all that said - why is this one ranked at 7 and Penguino at 4 if it’s nearly identical and this one’s $200 less?

Well, this one draws about 200W more per hour, so after only a year of use - it ends up being more expensive.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

14,000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

11

Coverage Area

Up to 500 sq ft

Installation

DIY


8 - SereneLife SLPAC8

4.2

Overall Score


Ease of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is SereneLife SLPAC8 best for?

SereneLife SLPAC8 is the best option for home server owners on a budget.

Pros
  • Very affordable product
  • More powerful than it looks
  • Does not consume a lot of power
  • Excellent for small-scale, starter operations
CONS
  • 1-year warranty
  • Exhaust hose and window kit are low-quality
  • Probably not that long-lasting
  • Rattling sounds appear out of nowhere

Finally, here's arguably the best deal for a portable AC to cool your server room.

For virtually 10% of the cost of some of MovinCool CM12, you can get a portable AC that can pull 80% of CM12's weight.

And yeah, I know that's not a "fair comparison," but still…That’s a deal.

Obviously, this one’s not intended for this particular use, but considering it’s not really good at what it’s supposed to do (it’s kind of loud and erratic at times), it’s perfect for your small and loud server room.

With 8000 BTU, SLPAC8 has more than enough power to keep a 200 sq ft server room in the low to mid-70s, protecting your gear from overheating, all while consuming less than a kilowatt when blasting at full speed.

That’s also a deal.

Since you asked (I know you didn't, but this one isn't exactly feature-rich), it does come with a built-in dehumidifier, so you can stop worrying about the humidity levels, as this can work in cooling, dehumidifying, and fan modes.

And, yes, installing it is a piece of cake. You’ll be done in less than 10 minutes, and I’m willing to bet you don’t even need to check out the instruction manual (but you should).

Now, all of that is fine and dandy. It's super-affordable, relatively powerful, and gets the job done, so what's the catch? Why the low cost?

Honestly, the only thing that comes to mind is the fact that it’s built in China, where labor is dirt cheap.

SereneLife SLPAC8 energy

In fact, I ACTUALLY use this thing to cool down my shed while I’m working in the summer, and it works just fine.

Other than annoying rattling - I don’t see what’s wrong with this thing.

I could make an educated guess and tell you I don’t think it’ll last you a long time, but after all, no one’s expecting a long-term server-cooling solution for less than $300.

Feature

Details

BTU Rating

8000

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

9

Coverage Area

Up to 200 sq ft

Installation

DIY


Server Room ACs Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

BTU Rating

Coverage Area

Price

Tripp Lite Cooling Unit Air Conditioner for...

Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM

4.5

2,000

Up to 80 sq ft

Tripp Lite Portable Air Conditioner for...

Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K

4.3

12,000

Up to 400 sq ft

KwiKool KIB6023 Air-Cooled 5 ton Portable Air...

KwiKool KIB6023

4.2

60,000

Up to 2000 sq ft

De'Longhi Black Portable Air Cooler with...

DeLonghi EX390LVYN

4.3

14,000

Up to 500 sq ft

Senville SENA-18HF/D Dual Zone Mini Split Air...

Senville SENA-18HF/D

4.3

18,000

Up to 600 sq ft

MovinCool CM12 Ceiling Mount Air Conditioner

MovinCool CM12

4.5

10,500

Up to 250 sq ft

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable...

Whynter ARC-14S

4.5

14,000

Up to 500 sq ft

SereneLife SLPAC8 SLPAC 3-in-1 Portable Air...

SereneLife SLPAC8

4.2

8000

Up to 200 sq ft


Considerations When Choosing An AC For Server Room

Unless you’re fine with blindly choosing the “best AC unit for server rooms” off of the internet, you might want to learn a thing or two on how to choose the best one.

Type Of AC For Server Rooms

There are a ton of different AC units that can cool your server room.

As you saw, apart from the KwiKool KIB6023, I’ve mostly covered the ACs you would use in small to mid-sized server rooms, and the reason for this is simple…

If you have 2000 sq ft space filled with server racks, you’re not going online and looking for spot coolers - you’re looking for contractors.

That said, I will take a peek at what you can find at data centers, too.

But first, let’s start with…

Portable Air Conditioners
types of portable ACs

Portable air conditioners make up most of my top 8 list, and for a very good reason.

They are more than good enough for small and mid-sized server rooms. They are very easy to install. And finally, they’re quite kind to your wallet.

It’s honestly all I recommend if you’re not planning to scale up or add more equipment to your server room.

Not only can these blow cool air where you want since most come with directional exhausts, and you can position them wherever, but you can probably buy one and run it for a year, all while spending less than you would on a mini-split.

For example, DeLonghi EX390LVYN can be bought and run at full capacity 24-7-365 for about $2000, which is about as much as you’d pay for a Senville SENA-18HF/D.

TL;DR: Portable ACs are great for small and medium sized server rooms.

Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Mini-split air conditioners are a stellar option to keep your server room cool.

They're powerful enough to cool pretty much any small to mid-sized server room. Still, not everything's about power - they're also efficient at it.

Namely, since you can just mount them onto any wall you like, you can have them facing your equipment, blowing cold air right all over your gear, minimizing waste, and helping those intake fans do their work.

Also, if you get a nice little modern thing like the above-mentioned SENA, you’ll be able to use remotes and apps, offering you control over temperature, humidity levels, schedule, fan speeds, etc. - right from the couch.

Here's the kicker… Getting a mini-split AC to cool a single room is like getting a 4090 graphics card only to play Solitaire!

While mini-split air conditioners do a bang-up job of keeping things cool - you’re underutilizing them if you’re using them only for a server room.

These should be your go-to if you already have central air conditioning in your home or if you’re planning on getting one.

These things are built to handle more than a few square feet of hot space filled with servers, so get multiple units and cool your whole house or office.

TL;DR: Mini splits are great for mid-sized server rooms.

In and Under-Ceiling Air Conditioner Units

Under-ceiling ACs and cassette ACs are designed to both move the heat and hot air away from the room while also pumping cool air in.

They’re often quite efficient as they’re usually a part of an already existing central AC system, so I’d say these are universally a very good option for cooling a server room.

I also like ceiling ACs because air circulation and pressure are never a problem.

These move enough air around to keep everything constant, which is not something you can say about portable ACs or even mini-splits.

At the same time, I wouldn't worry too much about air pressure and circulation.

You’ll deal with dust build-up one way or another, and it’s highly improbable your AC would ever move so much air to cause any significant efficiency problems in an already demanding environment.

Finally, it’s once again worth noting you wouldn’t go out and get these for a single room. And quite frankly, even if you wanted to - you wouldn’t be able to.

I don’t know any HVAC guy that would come to your home, plan and install an entire central AC system, and then just pop a single cassette AC in one room.

TL;DR: In and Under-Ceiling ACs are often part of a central AC system. They are used for large server rooms.

Fans and Ventilators

Finally, we have inline duct fans and high-airflow exhaust fans that achieve “cooling” by simply drawing hot air from the room.

The reason I don’t have any of these on my list is I wouldn’t call them an optimal solution.

Although if you’re rocking a small home server, there’s a case to be made for these if they’re positioned correctly (behind the server, where the hot air is exhausted).

You'll most commonly find these in a data center or a large server room, but in that case, they're just there to keep the air circulating and maintain air pressure optimally rather than controlling temperature.

And yes, installing them usually requires a bit of skill, so I wouldn’t advise trying to do it on your own if you don’t know what you’re doing.

TL;DR: Fans and Ventilators are good for promoting good air flow, they are not intended for cooling a server room though.

Now, let’s briefly tackle some data center cooling solutions just for fun.

  • Precision air conditioning (PAC) systems
    These commercial-grade systems are designed specifically for data centers, and they provide top-notch control over temperature, humidity level, and airflow.[2] They're usually seal-closed, monitoring only a handful of server racks at one time, which is what provides this level of precision and control.
  • Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC)
    Here, we have a traditional air conditioner for a data center called CRAC. The way these work is they pull hot air from the data center server room into the main cooler, where the hot air is chilled with cooling coils filled with a refrigerant.[3] Once that’s done, the cool air is pumped back into the room, usually through a perforated floor.
  • Computer Room Air Handler (CRAH) Units
    CRAH units operate similarly to CRAC units, but instead of using refrigeration to cool the air, they use chilled water.[4] Therefore, they’re more sustainable and better for the environment, making them a more popular option for going-green data centers.

TL;DR: Large Data Centers use precision control ACs such as CRAC or CRAH units.

Now, these three are the most popular, but apart from them, I’ve noticed constant use of in-row cooling, direct expansion (DX) cooling, etc.

However, most of them stem from the trio up there, and neither is the topic of today’s discussion, so let’s not waste time on them.

Sizing and (BTU) Requirements

When choosing server room cooling equipment - the cooling capacity, often measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), is a critical consideration.

Instead of just picking the best and most powerful unit, make sure you correctly size the unit to the room, as this will greatly influence how efficiently it can cool the space.

ACLAB Tip:

As a general rule of thumb, you need about 30 BTU per square foot of space since sever rooms get toasty.[5]

That said, while a higher BTU rating means more cooling power - you shouldn’t go overboard.

For example, Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM, our top pick, has a 2000 BTU rating making it more than capable of cooling any server enclosure, regardless of the room size. 

Also, even SereneLife SLPAC8 (an 8000 BTU unit) can cool a room up to 200 sq ft, which means you don’t need to shell out more than 10 grand for a beast such as KwiKool KIB6023 for the same space.

An oversized unit will only cause unnecessary upfront and energy costs and potential humidity control issues.

TL;DR: The first step in choosing an AC should always be to choose the right BTU capacity for the coverage area of the server room.

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

Energy efficiency rating is a big factor when choosing an air conditioner for your server room - for an obvious reason.[6]

how to make portable AC quieter

It is the ratio of the heat output to the power input, or in other words, BTU divided by how many watts it needs to run.

AC units with a high Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) are, as the name suggests, highly efficient. This helps reduce operational costs, which depending on your server room, could be anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars annually.

Therefore, it's wise to invest in an energy-efficient cooling solution, even if the initial cost is a bit higher.

What would that be, you might ask? Anything with an EER above 8.5 is above average, and anything above 11 is top-shelf.

For example, the Senville SENA-18HF/D has the best EER out of all the products on our list at 13.3. It can cool up to 600 sq ft while consuming approximately 1.3 kW per hour at its peak.

If we assume the average cost of 11 cents per kilowatt, that comes up to $1250 annually.

On the other hand, MovingCool CM12 AC, which has a very good EER rating of 8.5 and can cool up to 250 sq ft, consumes about 1.2 kW per hour at max, bringing its annual total to $1150.

In other words, with SENA, you pay an extra $100 to cool twice the area.

Or, if you want to do it the other way around, you’d have to get two CM12s and spend an extra $1100 on electricity to cool less than you would with one SENA.

TL;DR: Always look for ACs with higher EER rating in order to save up on running costs in the long run.

Your Budget and the Procurement Cost

Speaking of price and savings, server room air conditioners range in price depending on their capacity, type, EER, as well as additional bells and whistles.

On average, you can expect to spend anywhere between $700 to $12,000, depending on your needs.

So here’s my advice so you don’t obsess over the price tag - put everything down on paper and do the math.

Pricier doesn't necessarily mean better, and more affordable doesn't mean more savings.

While higher-end units will be more expensive initially, they (more often than not) offer greater efficiency and longevity, effectively reducing costs in the long run.

Remember, a server room AC unit isn’t a short-term investment.

ACLAB Tip:

You’re far more likely to upgrade your server equipment than the things that blow cool air, so don’t be afraid to spend a bit more initially if that’s what you need.

TL;DR: Server room ACs need to be more reliable than an average AC, but you do not have to go for the most expensive model. Balance between reliability, efficiency and cooling ability.

How Long Is the Warranty Period

Speaking of longevity, a warranty indicates a manufacturer's confidence in the reliability and durability of their AC unit.

And while I certainly wouldn’t put my life in the manufacturers’ hands (since we all know how companies love avoiding living up to their end of the agreement), I still enjoy the peace of mind, particularly when investing in higher-end models.

I'd also urge you to look for a warranty that covers both product (unit, compressor, etc.) and labor for a few years. Unfortunately, the latter is rather hard to find.

What you'll usually find is a 1-3 year-long warranty on portable models and a 3-7 year-long warranty on mini-splits and higher-capacity AC units.

TL;DR: Longer warranty on your units can give you a lasting piece of mind. Usually, larger ACs have a longer warranty period.

Ease Of Installation

If you’re running a data center or a large server room - you probably won’t have to worry about easy installation as you won’t be the one doing the work.

Larger units and those that require proper installation, wiring, and planning will very likely need a professional touch.

However, if you're a small-scale business and want to avoid the hassle - easily installed air conditioners will save you time and additional installation costs.

Most portable air conditioners can be set up in less than half an hour (even minutes) without any professional help.

TL;DR: For small scale server rooms, a good portable AC can easily be setup by yourself. For larger servers rooms, you will have to seek professional help for installation.

Humidity Control Options

I always urge folks to pay attention to humidity levels in server rooms.

dehumidifier settings

Too much moisture can lead to condensation, and we all know that electricity and condensation aren’t the best of friends.

Also, too little can produce static electricity, which is equally as bad.

In most cases, you might encounter humidity level issues if your server is in a basement, top floor, attic, or near an exterior wall.

Thankfully, a lot of AC equipment nowadays comes with built-in humidity control options and built-in dehumidifiers to maintain optimal humidity levels, so this shouldn’t be a problem as long as your home or office is built properly.

TL;DR: To maintain the electronic equipment in the servers rooms, you have to manage booth cooling and humidity. It is thus important for an AC to also have humidity control.

Is it a Portable Unit

Portability is often overlooked, which I don’t really get.

Portable ACs or spot coolers are not only a cost-effective cooling solution - but they essentially make server room cooling effortless.

These units are super easy to set up.

All you need to do is position them in front of a server, and you’ll have yourself a very effective cooling solution, with these puppies blowing cold air directly into the server racks and ensuring proper temperature control and adequate air circulation.

And if you ever need to move your equipment or add some more to the room - you can just move the AC with it.

TL;DR: Portable ACs are cheaper and great for smaller servers room. Plus you can move them to a place where they are needed the most. They are not, however, suitable for large server rooms. 

dual hose vs single hose portable AC

Does It Filter the Air Out

Air filtration is another key function of every air conditioner.

This technology is responsible for removing dust, dirt, odor, allergens, mold, and bacteria from the room to ensure clean air.

There are several different types of air filters used in air conditioners, such as washable or reusable filters (stronger cloth-based material and relatively cheap), fiberglass filters (which can only be used once), or pleated filters (polyester material).

Pretty much any of them should be good at keeping most of the dirt outside, but you’ll still have to do some “maintenance” from time to time because you just can’t get away from dust.

TL;DR: An AC with air filtration is a great plus for keeping the equipment in pristine condition.

Does It offer Any Safety Features?

I wouldn’t say safety features are something to obsess over when dealing with server room cooling systems, but you still have to pay attention to them.

Features such as automatic shutoff in case of power outages or overheating, leak detection, and built-in surge protection are definitely great addition if you want to minimize the damage from unforeseen disasters.

Here's another tip: invest in a UPS.

A good UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will protect not only your networking equipment but also your air conditioner.

TL;DR: Safety features such as protective devices are important to save it from electrical hazards and to improve its longevity.

Venting (If Needed)

Ventilation is the final aspect to consider.

In most cases, small server rooms won’t require any additional heat removal, as most ACs already do a pretty good job extracting heat from the space.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with something a bit bigger - say 800 sq ft or more - a few exhaust vents positioned in the ceiling or behind equipment could be a good move.

TL;DR: For large server rooms, you may have to invest in exhaust vents for heat removal.


Why Are Air Conditioners Necessary In Server Rooms?

Simply put, air conditioners are essential in server rooms to maintain optimal conditions and prevent overheating of the servers.

The cold air they blow directly into the space (or a server rack) helps to keep the temperature and humidity level within the desired range, which is:

  • 68-71 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 40-60% relative humidity

Now, as far as temperature goes, you have some breathing room.

In my experience, as long as you’re not cracking 80 degrees Fahrenheit - you’re good.

The latest equipment used in server rooms can easily withstand temperatures up to 110 degrees, so if your server room is at 78 degrees - don’t worry.

As far as I know, not even data centers keep their temperature levels at the high 60s or low 70s anymore.

That said, temperature control is still an integral part of a server room.

You simply have to remove the heat generated by servers, computers, and other networking equipment.

In other words, an air conditioner for your server room is a necessity if you want to protect your equipment from overheating.

TL;DR: IT equipment in server rooms generate a lot of heat. Too much heat can damage the equipment and thus effective heat removal is essential in making sure that the server does not face any downtime or disruption of services.


How Do I Vent A Portable AC In A Server Room?

You can’t use a portable AC in a server room without ventilation. After all, the hot air needs to go someplace. 

So, here’s how you can vent your portable AC units in the server rooms to prevent overheating.

  • Find the ideal spot:
    Your portable AC needs to be near an outlet and a window or small opening for the exhaust hose. You could also vent through a (drop) ceiling straight into your attic if you're not using it. Remember that you'll probably have to drill a hole in this case.

Note:

If you’re venting through a window - setting it all up will only take a few minutes, as most of these come with window kits that fit most standard windows.

  • Attach the hose:
    Once you find the right spot, simply connect the exhaust hose to the AC unit. It often screws onto the back with four Phillips screws. Then, run the other end of the hose to the outlet and attach it properly (read: snuggly).
  • Start and check for leaks:
    Run the AC and feel around the hose and venting point for hot air escaping. If you find any, use insulation or duct tape to seal it up.

That’s it. After you're done, check on the hose every now and again, as some of them can get a bit loose over time.

TL;DR: If using a portable AC, you must properly vent the heat out. Make sure you check for leaks. Use duct tape if necessary to seal up any crevices or leaks.

portable AC Venting options

How We Review & Rank Our Product List

At Air Conditioner Lab, our team follows a similar process when evaluating all products reviews before formulating our final lists for readers.

We begin by gathering data sources directly from brands, e-commerce platforms, online retailers and press releases.

These are then added to a master file we use to compare features specifications from all AC models. You can access this AC Sheet Here.

Next, we narrow down all the products on the market by evaluating user reviews, ratings and feedback from a wide variety of online and in-person sources.

Our team then discusses and co-ordinates our first hand experiences using these products, as well as gather independent opinions and feedback through Youtube and customer reviews.


FAQ

What Type Of AC Is Best Used In The Server Room?

The best type of AC for server rooms depends largely on the type of server room.

For instance, a small server room is best cooled with a portable AC or a ductless mini-split system, while a large operation, like a data center, would benefit from a high-end PAC or CRAC solution.

How Do You Calculate The AC Size For The Server Room?

In order to calculate the AC size for a server room, you must first know the server room size. Once you do, allocate 20 BTU per square foot of space, and you should have a rough estimate.

If you have people working within the data center or a server room, account for their BTU (which is about 400), and choose an appropriate air conditioning system.

Can I Keep A Portable Air Conditioner Running Continuously?

You can keep a portable air conditioner running continuously as long as you maintain it properly (empty the condensation tank, for example).

As long as it automatically shuts off when the temperature is right, you also don't have to worry about electricity bills being too high, even with constant use.

How Do I Cool A Server Room Without Air Conditioning?

The only way to cool a server room without air conditioning is with proper ventilation.

Having a vent directly behind a server closet or a rack and drawing the toasty air right from the source can lower the server room temperature significantly, which in properly temperature-isolated spaces could be more than efficient.

To make this cost-efficient, you could add a thermostat and a temperature probe near the server rack so your exhaust vents kick in only when necessary.

Summary – Which Server Room AC Do I Buy?

As you can see, there are quite a few ACs you can use to cool down your server room.

From impeccable rack enclosure cooling solutions like Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM, over excellent mid-sized room solutions like Senville SENA-18HF/D, all the way to the mighty KwiKool KIB6023 for large server rooms, I’ve covered it all so you can find the absolute best, most efficient, most effective, cooling solution for your server room.

And, seeing how you've read all about the different features and considerations for these cooling devices, there's no doubt in my mind you'll make the right pick for your needs!

My #1 Recommendation
Tripp Lite SRCOOL2KWM

  • Easy to install w/ an easy-to-follow manual
  • Super-efficient close-coupled cooling
  • More powerful than it seems
  • Affordable and cost-effective product
  • Ideal for small, cramped spaces

References: 

  1. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-air-conditioners
  2. https://www.serverroomenvironments.co.uk/faqs/cooling-systems-faqs/what-are-precision-air-conditioning-pac-systems
  3. https://www.techtarget.com/searchdatacenter/definition/computer-room-air-conditioning-unit
  4. https://dataspan.com/blog/crac-vs-crah-cooling-units-whats-the-difference/
  5. https://crossrental.co.uk/server-room-cooling-requirement/
  6. https://westernhillsheating.com/blog/western-hills-heating-air-cond-eer-rating-explained
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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