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Entertainment Center Cooling; How To Achieve Proper Cabinet Ventilation
Real World Test Results Using Fans and Ventilated Shelving
by Steve Hartfelder

Heat can be the enemey of an entertainment center, it can cause electronics to prematurely fail, adding fans can help keep your electronics cool.
The Evolution E87-C Wall Unit was used to test the effectiveness of our steel ventilated shelves and whisper fans. The furniture system was outfitted with a complete electronics package that would be commonly found in a home theater system.

A famous 80s song once proclaimed "Some Like It Hot." It's hard to argue with that logic if your are talking about a day at the beach, a backyard bbq, or snuggling up by a cozy fire.

However, when it comes to home theater your electronics definitely don't appreciate the heat. In fact, it has been shown that heat build up negatively effects electronics and can lead to premature failure.

Whisper Fan Image, Can Be Installed In FurnitureAt Diamond Case we are well aware of heat generated by electronics and professionally design our furniture to promote proper air flow and ventilation.

In this article we take a close look at two of our most popular options; ventilated shelves and whisper fans. We have crafted a real-world test to gauge the effectiveness of these options.

Please breeze through this article as I think you find the results to be chilling.

 


The Test - How Effective Are Whisper Fans and Ventilated Shelves

The elctronics package used to test the effectiveness of the whisper fans and ventilated shelves, dual zone thermostat measured temperatures in two spotsTo demonstrate the effectiveness of our whisper fans and ventilated shelves we installed a package of common home theater electronics in our Evolution E87-C Wall Unit (see photograph above).

The package consisted of a Yamaha 7.1 channel receiver, a Samsung blu-ray DVD player, an Apple TV, a DirecTV high-definition DVR, and an RBH subwoofer amplifier. All electronics were wired just like they would be in a home situation and were fully operational.

The electronics were installed inside the furniture and hidden behind a smoke glass door. The components were laid out as shown on three adjustable shelves. The shelves were cut slightly short from the depth of the furniture so a natural air channel was created behind the electronics. The back panel featured two cut-outs; one at the top and one at the bottom. All tests were run in our climate controlled showroom to ensure external temperature was not a factor.

A dual zone thermostat was installed to measure temperature in two different areas. The lower temperature sensor was placed just above the DirecTV DVR while the upper was placed just above the Yamaha receiver. Having two probes was key to see how the warm air might rise and escape the furniture (1).


First Test - Wood Shelves vs Steel Ventilated Shelves

The first test was to see how steel perforated shelves improved air flow and ventilation over regular wood shelvesWe offer two different types of shelving in our entertainment centers; standard adjustable wood shelves or ventilated perforated steel shelves. The steel shelves are designed with hundreds of holes in them to allow warm air to rise through the shelf and escape to the top of the furniture. This test did not use any fans, the goal was to see if perforated shelves improved air flow and reduced heat build up relative to wood shelves.

To complete the test we turned on all the electronics and left them running for approximately 20 minutes. We did this once using wood shelves then a second time using the steel ventilated shelves. The results are highlighted in the chart below.

Wood Shelf vs Steel Ventilated Shelf Test
  Top Temperature Sensor Bottom Temperature Sensor
Wood Shelves 88º F 114º F
Steel Perforated Shelves 90º F 98º F
Conclusion   Significant Improvement!

 

 

 

 

Perforated Steel Shelves Improve Ventilation by Allowing Warm Air To Risde Through The Furniture and Escape the CabinetConclusion: The test revealed that the steel shelves make a major improvement in air flow and ventilation. The temperature probe above the DirecTV DVR measured 114º F after twenty minutes of use with wood shelves but only 98º F when steel shelves were used - a full 16º improvement! This makes sense as the heat generated by the DVR was able to naturally rise through the shelves towards the top of the cabinet and escape through the back panel cut-out.

The results prove that perforated shelves improve the air flow and ventilation of an entertainment center and should be considered in all TV cabinets and wall units.

Our steel ventilated shelves are crafted from heavy-duty 20 gauge steel and finished with a beautiful black powder coat for smooth and durable results. They are proudly manufactured in the USA.

Two standard sizes are offered and fit most of our popular entertainment centers, TV stands, and home theater cabinets. One standard shelf is 18 3/8" in width while the other is 19 7/8" wide. These shelves are typically in stock and can be ordered one at a time for $89 each.

If the standard sizes don't work in your furniture, we would be happy to create a custom size just for you. The we can tailor the custom shelves to fit any size entertainment center, wall unit, or cabinet. Generally speaking custom steel shelves cost $149 each with a four piece minimum order. A typical lead time is four to six weeks.

For more information or to place an order call Dave or I (Steve) at 800-616-5354.


Second Test - Adding Whisper Fans To An Entertainment Cabinet

For the second test a pair of fans were mounted in the back panel in a push-pull configuration.  The lower fan blew into the furniture while the upper fan sucked out.After concluding that ventilated shelving significantly reduces heat built-up and improves air flow, we wanted to test the effectiveness of whisper fans. For this test we mounted a pair of small whisper fans into the back panel of the furniture. The fans were installed in a push-pull configuration where the lower fan blew into the furniture while the upper fan sucked out.

We again ran two separate tests; one using standard wood shelves and one using the steel perforated shelves. We started each test the same way, allowing the electronics to heat up for twenty minutes before the fans were turned on. Here are the results:

Effectiveness of Whisper Fans with WOOD Shelves
  Top Temperature Sensor Bottom Temperature Sensor
Initial temperature after 20 minutes (fans not on) 88º F 114º F
Fans turned on for
5 minutes
89º F 104º F
Fans turned on for
15 minutes
89º F 97º F
Conclusion   Significant Improvement!

 



 

 

 


Effectiveness of Whisper Fans with STEEL Shelves
  Top Temperature Sensor Bottom Temperature Sensor
Initial temperature after 20 minutes (fans not on) 90º F 98º F
Fans turned on for
5 minutes
86º F 83º F
Fans turned on for
15 minutes
85º F 83º F
Conclusion   Significant Improvement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whisper fans mounted in the back panel of the furniture, installed in a push-pull configuration.  The bottom fan blew into the furniture while the top fan sucked out.Conclusion: These test results were very interesting. When wood shelves were used the temperature sensor above the DirecTV DVR rose to 114º F after twenty minutes of use. At that point the fans were turned on and we kept a close eye on the temperatures. After five minutes we saw a full 10º F drop in temperature as the probe read 104º F. We continued to monitor the temperature and after fifteen minutes the temperature dropped another 7º F, down to 97º F. Overall the fans were successful in an overall temperature drop of 17º F within a short fifteen minute window, but we were not able to bring the internal temperature below 97º F.

We repeated the test a second time swapping the wood shelves out for the steel perforated shelves. After twenty minutes of use the lower temperature probe read 98º F and the fans were turned on. After five minutes with the whisper fans in use we measured a major drop in temperature as the lower probe read a cool 83º F. In fives short minutes we saw a full 15º F drop! There was no further drop in temperature as we allowed the fans to run past the fifteen minute mark.

In both tests the fans were effective in reducing cabinet temperature, however, the overall combination of using steel perforated shelves and whisper fans produced the best results. If you are looking for the most effective way to cool your furniture and reduce heat build-up you should consider using both ventilated shelving and whisper fans.

We offer a standard push-pull whisper fan package that can easily be installed into most entertainment centers, wall units, or TV stands. The standard fan package is $179 and includes two whisper along with the appropriate cables and power supply. You can choose to leave the fans always on or plug them into a switched outlet so they come on/off with your electronics. Alternatively, a thermostatic control is available for $89 where the fans will automatically turn on/off based on the temperature in the cabinet. The thermostatic control has three user adjustable set points.


More Information / Placing An Order

If you would like to improve the ventilation of your entertainment center, have questions, or would like to place an order you can call me (Steve Hartfelder) or my brother (Dave Hartfelder) toll-free at 800-616-5354. Alternatively you can reach us by e-mail at steve@diamondcase.com.We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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(1) These tests were run in an controlled environment using the variables and methods described above. Your results will vary based on the variables of your home including your furniture design, electronics package, and home climate.


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