Watercooling with tap water

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math1337
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Watercooling with tap water

Postby math1337 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:55 pm UTC

Is it possible for a watercooling system to take tap water, and instead of circulating it, just dumping the hot water and intaking more? Water is cheap and is pretty cold when it comes out of the tap. If the watercooling system is clean, the water may still be usable for other stuff, making the system not a total waste.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby Hawknc » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:08 pm UTC

i personally would not want either a water inlet or outlet near my computer. A radiator and reservoir would bring the outgoing water back to room temperature quickly enough, but bear in mind that i work with car cooling systems, not computer ones. :P
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:22 pm UTC

Yes, but tap water in most areas is a lot colder than room temperature.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby BigNose » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:16 pm UTC

There are 2 problems with doing that:
1. Just how long are the pipes to and from your PC to tap and drain gonna be?
2. As per normal cooling rigs, after a while, the water will start to corrode (read rust) any iron based elements.
You can get away with ignoring Point 2 as heatsinks are typically non-ferous and no radiator or pump mechanism is used.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby Zeroignite » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

Open loop cooling has, at least, been done before.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

You may be surprised how much the price adds up when you run the water 24/7.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby GeorgeH » Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:14 pm UTC

Exactly that; after doing the math, I got ~$600-1500 per month*. I'm sure that's "cheap" to someone, but not to me.

*Assuming:
1) 200 GPH pump (rough average; the typical range is ~100-300 GPH)
2) 16 hours per day average runtime
3) 30 days in a month
4) Current residential rates for a 1" meter in San Diego or Seattle.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby hintss » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:14 pm UTC

whats wrong with ground loop cooling like that feature on hackaday? its closed loop, and the water also travels through the groound, so it also goes below room temperature.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby Earlz » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:54 am UTC

math1337 wrote:Water is cheap and is pretty cold when it comes out of the tap.


Have you seen those commercials about clean water in Africa?
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby 2.71828183 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:41 am UTC

Considering that:

-Tap water has higher electrical conductivity than distilled, so is more dangerous to your components in case of a leak
-Reusing the water would require difficult and expensive modifications of your home's plumbing, and if you wanted to make it potable afterward you'd have to be careful that your cooling system didn't contaminate it
-Wasting the water would be expensive as well, as mentioned earlier
-A radiator capable of dissipating a few hundred watts is not a large or expensive item (for comparison, a car radiator dissipates tens to hundreds of kilowatts)
-Self-contained systems are more portable and more easily serviced than something requiring a water feed and drain
-With a constant influx of new tap water, you have to worry about mineral deposits and such

. . . and so on, I don't see why you would want to cool your computer with tap water. Sure, it's possible, but not the best way to go about things. If you wanted to achieve a similar goal, it would be easier to make a self-contained water-cooling system with a heat dump attached to your house's cold water inlet pipe. It would take a fairly small amount of heatsink contact to dissipate enough heat into that pipe, and as long as something in the house is using water, there would be enough flow (it takes very little mass flow of water to dissipate this amount of heat). A still better solution, though, is just to use air as your heat dump.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby hintss » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:19 am UTC

2.71828183 wrote:Considering that:

-Tap water has higher electrical conductivity than distilled, so is more dangerous to your components in case of a leak
-Reusing the water would require difficult and expensive modifications of your home's plumbing, and if you wanted to make it potable afterward you'd have to be careful that your cooling system didn't contaminate it
-Wasting the water would be expensive as well, as mentioned earlier
-A radiator capable of dissipating a few hundred watts is not a large or expensive item (for comparison, a car radiator dissipates tens to hundreds of kilowatts)
-Self-contained systems are more portable and more easily serviced than something requiring a water feed and drain
-With a constant influx of new tap water, you have to worry about mineral deposits and such

. . . and so on, I don't see why you would want to cool your computer with tap water. Sure, it's possible, but not the best way to go about things. If you wanted to achieve a similar goal, it would be easier to make a self-contained water-cooling system with a heat dump attached to your house's cold water inlet pipe. It would take a fairly small amount of heatsink contact to dissipate enough heat into that pipe, and as long as something in the house is using water, there would be enough flow (it takes very little mass flow of water to dissipate this amount of heat). A still better solution, though, is just to use air as your heat dump.
he might have a water softener, but your other points are still valid

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby phillipsjk » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

When I suggested (tap) water cooling in another thread, I was suggesting it would be used only on the hottest days. In refrigerated environments the machines are often water cooled to reduce the load on the AC system. On the hottest days, they also run water across the lines going to the compressor room (I never found out the exact heat exchange mechanism; they could have used a radiator as a heatsink instead).

If you are running 24/7, you will want to use a closed loop for ground-source cooling. In the Home-built supercomputer thread I linked to an article explaining "about 80 to 110 m (270 to 350 ft.) of piping is needed for every ton (3.5 kW or 12 000 Btu/h) of heat pump capacity."
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby SWGlassPit » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:12 pm UTC

BigNose wrote:There are 2 problems with doing that:
1. Just how long are the pipes to and from your PC to tap and drain gonna be?
2. As per normal cooling rigs, after a while, the water will start to corrode (read rust) any iron based elements.
You can get away with ignoring Point 2 as heatsinks are typically non-ferous and no radiator or pump mechanism is used.


Don't forget also the water chemistry in your area. Where I live, there'd be a pretty big problem with calcium deposits building up over time. That's what we get for living on an ancient sea bed.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby 2.71828183 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:10 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:When I suggested (tap) water cooling in another thread, I was suggesting it would be used only on the hottest days.

Even then (presumably for a large server instead of a desktop computer), unless you're severely restricted on space, it makes sense to run that water into a suitably-sized pool, let it cool evaporatively and by heat exchange with the surrounding air, and reuse it. You'll still have a need to replace water lost by evaporation, but this will be far smaller than the water use from dumping the whole lot, and this approach is very cheap to build. A dedicated forced-air radiator would be completely sealed and more compact, but it could get moderately expensive for high-capacity systems.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby bigglesworth » Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:56 am UTC

You could even make it into a decorative water feature.
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby Gojamn » Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:16 pm UTC

So I just found this because I was curious about trying it for shits and giggles.

You see, my water bill is included in my HOA fee and doesn't change no matter how much I use. I'm curious what would be needed, how well it could work, how expensive it would be (when not including the water bill, just the parts), and how safe/reliable it could be made (don't wanna ruin my PC).

I'm also curious how this might be applied to travel PC's: after all, I've never heard of a hotel that charges you for the water from your sink or shower...

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby wumpus » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:18 pm UTC

If you are remotely serious about this (and are absolutely sure of the local water table: whiskey is for drinkin' water is for fightin' over), consider using the water as a mister/swamp-chiller. Presumably you would need some sort of outside air intake/exaust system as well, an then use air+evaporating water to cool a heat sink. Probably just too complicated and less effective than a simple "use once" watercooler, but uses a phase change to get some real cooling out of that water.

Way back when, a friend's grandparents had an artesian well (i.e. it constantly dumped water at ground temperatures). As far as I know, they never used it to water cool AC coils. Presumably this would have done wonders for AC efficiency.

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yellow103
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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby yellow103 » Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:32 am UTC

Fool! You computer already relies on electricity, by making it rely on water supply you add a whole new way for it to fail. All it takes is a water main break and your done!
Of course with this thread being years old, and without a response from the original poster, this may have already happened.

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Re: Watercooling with tap water

Postby eternalfrost » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:22 am UTC

First, running water down the drain 24/7 will rack up your bill pretty quick. Of course, it depends on what flow rate you are using and where you live but pushing up past $100 per month would be easy to do.

Second, typical household tap water is full of dissolved minerals and other things. In a closed loop, the coolant comes into an equilibrium with the plumbing. In an open loop, you never reach equlibrium and either the water dissolves away the plumbing or the dissolved minerals in the tap water deposit onto the pipes and clog them or block heat transfer.

In any case, it is not worth it...


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