Many companies utilize a server room to house important network equipment. Finding the perfect rack mount enclosure does require some thorough research. Identifying and understanding the following 3 considerations will help to make a well-informed decision on the best rack enclosure for the job.
3 Helpful Tips to Find the Perfect Rack Enclosure:
Is the room – that the enclosure(s) will reside – physically large enough to install the intended rack enclosure? Make sure the room has sufficient clearance to set up the rack. As a rule of thumb, you will need at least 2-3 feet in the front and 2-3 feet in the back of the rack, so equipment can be easily accessed, and the doors have space to swing open. Most racks are around 36-38” deep, so account for approximately 8 feet of depth in the desired installation location. A rack enclosure should never be pushed against a wall. Also, be sure to account for space above the enclosure. Ample space from the top of the enclosure to the ceiling is necessary for proper air flow and routing cables overhead.
Do you have a clean room or dirty/dusty environment? Many server rooms are coined as “clean” rooms and are secluded from the factory floor. Clean rooms are generally air conditioned and maintained at a cool temperature. According to the website, WhatIs.com, “A clean room is an enclosed space in which airborne particulates, contaminants, and pollutants are kept within strict limits… In addition, the temperature and humidity may be controlled.” These types of applications are best suited for a vented rack enclosure. However, not all rooms are created equal! Some installations will require a NEMA 12 enclosure to keep dust, dirt, lint, grease, and splashing liquids away from electronics. In certain instances, specifiers may require a NEMA 4 or NEMA 4X rack to protect against a heavy washdown or harsh chemical cleaning.
When contained in an enclosure, electronics will produce heat. It is critical to specify the correct cooling system prior to making any purchasing decisions. Filtered fans, a vortex cooling unit, heat exchangers, and air conditioners are all possible cooling solutions available for installation on server rack enclosures. Always make sure that the required cooling unit will fit on or in the enclosure. And, if installing a cooling system that has a filter, it is important to change or clean the filter regularly. According to the Energy Star website, “At a minimum, change the filter every [few] months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder … wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.” Also, if you are tight on space, inquire if the room permits ducted cool air to be directed to the enclosure and, if so, clearly locate air intakes and exhausts near the equipment.
To ensure project success, perform the proper homework. Before purchasing an enclosure, be sure that essential elements, like thermal management, are evaluated. You do not want to purchase expensive electronics and have them fail, because the enclosure did not properly protect. Also – make sure that the necessary equipment will fit inside of the enclosure and that the correct NEMA rating is met!