November / December 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

Mini splits in computer server rooms…good idea?

I get asked a lot about one of the most common commercial applications of mini splits…computer server rooms.

A common concern is the equipment’s ability, (or lack thereof), to cool the room at low outdoor air temperatures. Think about it…a server room needs cooling even when it’s snowing outside.

Let me first address what I’m calling a ‘server room’.

If you’re commercial customer is NASA or the US Army…don’t use a mini split to cool their server room! There is equipment called Precision Air Conditioners PAC which is specifically designed for larger server rooms that are related to critical information and businesses.

The mini split is a fine choice for a small company’s server room or a municipal building with a small server room. If the room is bigger than a utility closet and has rows of computer mainframes…leave it for the PAC guys.

OK…what about the mini split’s ability to cool at low outdoor air temperature?

Let’s use the Comfort-Aire VMH single zone inverter system as our working example. The VMH series can cool down to 5F ODAT. I think that’s pretty darn good but I have had installers express concern about it…what happens when the ODAT drops below 5F? Well, the mini split stops cooling and something else has to take up the load…unless…the outdoor unit of the mini split ain’t outdoors.

Say what?

Well think about it…what says you need to install the outdoor unit outdoors? Just because we call it an ‘outdoor unit’ does not dictate that it MUST be outdoors. If the company has a warehouse area where you can install the outdoor unit, this will eliminate the limitation of the shut off at low ODAT. The warehouse, (assuming its storing non-perishables), is probably kept around 50 – 60F in the winter time…the Comfort-Aire VMH series has a cooling operating range of 5F – 122F ODAT …perfect!

Now please don’t get me wrong here…I’m not suggesting you install the outdoor unit in someone’s attic or basement…this is strictly for commercial applications where dumping some BTUs into a large warehouse will have no adverse effect on occupants and / or product being stored there.

I show pictures in my mini split class of the Heatcontroller warehouse in Jackson, MI where they do just what I described…outdoor units installed in their enormous warehouse…why not?

This concept of outdoor units installed indoors doesn’t come without some things to consider i.e., the outdoor unit when in the HEAT mode will condense and drainage for that condensation must be considered. Also, warehouses tend to be quite dusty…maintenance schedules, (coil cleaning), may need to be adjusted for this factor.

Another concern with mini splits in these applications is reliability. A mini split in a server room is generally working 24/7/365.

Let me start by saying this…other than PACs, no air conditioning system is designed for 24/7/365 use…NONE!

That said…mini splits do tend to do well in these applications but here is my personal feeling about it. I will ALWAYS install two separate and identical mini split systems in a server room for redundancy…it’s not a question of will the system die…it’s when will it die and by having a second identical system installed, the second system simply takes over when the first one’s useful life is over.

Let me be clear…I’m not talking about a dual zone system that has one singular outdoor unit. I’m talking about to separate but identical systems…true redundancy.

Look, each server room application has to be considered for its own unique needs…especially the unique geographic weather conditions of the area. I’m probably not going to install a mini split in the server room at Santa’s workshop at the North Pole but I sure will consider it virtually anywhere in North America…as long as it makes sense based on this discussion.

New classes for 2015!

I have been working with the guy I call the ‘Guru of Motors’, Mr. Chuck Klose of MARS, Inc to create a training curriculum dedicated to their innovative and ‘game changing’ products like the Azure Digi Motor. Our first class, which I will be conducting, beginning in the first quarter of 2015, is titled ‘ECM Motor Technology for HVACR’.

The class will detail and dissect both standard induction motors as well as Electronically Commutated Motors ECM. I will further breakdown the ECM category into ‘constant torque motors’ and ‘variable speed motors’. The class will offer replacement motor solutions not only for HVAC applications but commercial refrigeration applications as well.

I like to think that the collaboration of Chuck and me brings the class attendee a unique blend of what I call Chuck’s ‘brilliance of simplicity’ along with my practical background.

Chuck is one of those rare birds that are clearly brilliant but can relate and communicate his knowledge to the masses…rare indeed!

I, on the other hand, ain’t the sharpest tack in the box but I know how to work with my hands pretty well…Chuck’s brilliance and my practical experience, I believe, brings a unique, fun and comprehensive look to ECM motor technology.

I start my spring 2015 tour on the left coast in February and will be making stops all around the US and Canada through mid-June.

The class is NATE recognized and attendees who are North American Technician Excellence certified can earn credits toward their certification.

Look, the days of taking a dead motor to your local supply house counterman and simply asking for an exact, inefficient, antiquated replacement are long gone…the technology exits to offer your customers efficiency, simplicity and quality and it all exits in the MARS motor product offering.

I’m not going to steal my own thunder here…you’re going to have to come to the class but let me say this…I guarantee you will be surprised what is available in replacement motors and I can show you how to cut down on your replacement motor inventory, both in your shop and in your truck / trucks…you know what that means, don’t you? MORE PROFIT / BETTER SOLUTIONS!

What’s in a hand shake?

Have you ever reached out to shake a man’s hand and got a weak, awkward grip from your shake-mate? Your mind starts racing…do I try and grip his hand more firmly to compensate for his weak grip? Do I try and turn it into a ‘hippy shake’ by inverting the shake into a crossed-hand, outdated hippy greeting? Do I just go with it, possibly leaving the impression with the ‘shakee’ that you’rethe one with the weak shake? Oh, what to do?

I am a believer that a lot can be learned about a man from his hand shake style.

Let me explain…

I didn’t have anyone when I was growing up to teach me the importance of a strong hand shake and the technique. I was very fortunate however, to have a few gentlemen who ultimately changed the course of my life, taught me many things…none the least of which was how to shake another man’s hand.

I’m not suggesting any of my mentors actually tutored me in the art of the hand shake…not sure anybody does that…what they did was teach by example.

Elwood Weaver was the Vice President of Sales for HydroTherm boilers. I often refer to Elwood as ‘my dad’ although we had no biological connection. Elwood was possibly the most influential person in my career and my life in general…I will save the details of that for another time.

Elwood was approximately 6’5” and maybe about 250 lbs…a BIG dude by anyone’s estimation. He was a WWII marine…a veteran of the battle of Guadalcanal. His hands were these humongous mitts…much like a boxer would have. When Elwood shook your hand you knew it…there was no awkwardness to it…he grabbed your hand and YOU shook!

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not suggesting Elwood’s handshake was obnoxious or overpowering…it wasn’t…it was firm, natural, confident and strong. It was Elwood.

There is a family with a legendary hand shake here in the New Jersey / New York area…the Hartel’s.

Fred Hartel and his sons’ Tom and Michael, own and operate JM Hartel & Co of Pearl River, NY.

Growing up in northern New Jersey, Hartel’s was a neighborhood icon…still is! You could tell anyone that you were going to Hartel’s and they knew exactly where you were going. Hartel’s was the plumbing and heating supply house in northern NJ and lower NY.

When Fred, Tom or Mike shakes your hand it is an experience! First they make eye contact with you…then they come toward you at a pretty good pace, (and keep in mind, like Elwood, the Hartel men a big dudes), and then they grab your hand and pull you toward them…and you know what? You move toward them! The shake is powerful…just like their personalities.

The Hartel shake makes you feel special…like they have been waiting to shake your hand for a long time and it’s special to them. Wow! What a great way to greet old friends…make new ones, and express who you are and what you’re all about!

I don’t have a son but I do have two nephews and I’m glad to say each has a strong hand shake when we meet. I wish I could take credit for that but each of them have good examples to learn from in their dads…two very different guys but also two very good men whose personalities come through in their hand shake.

OK…enough. Too much about the simple gesture of shaking hands? Maybe…but the next time you reach out and grab another man’s hand I bet you think about it.


Mr Joseph, ‘Joe’, Beshar former Vice President of Commercial Sales for HydroTherm Boilers passed away on August 26, 2014. Mr. Beshar was the last of his contemporaries from the original HydroTherm boiler company and he will be greatly missed by me and all his friends and family.

Mr. Beshar and Elwood Weaver were business partners but more importantly, they were great friends who cared about each other and took care of each other through their lives.

It’s funny…I knew Mr. Beshar as long as I knew Elwood but I was never comfortable calling him ‘Joe’…he seemed to require a more formal addressing. Mr. Beshar helped me long after our days at HydroTherm by being a resource of information…a connection to the past for me and many others who knew him and appreciated him…and loved him.


See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.