How to Purchase the Best Rack System for Your Campus

Avoid wrestling with your rack system. Consider these following variables when making your next rack purchase.

When determining which rack or series of racks to buy, it is important to make sure the product you are purchasing is ideal for your installation. Different types of rack formats apply to specific applications, and since racks are an essential piece of hardware for almost every AV, IT or security installation, choosing the most effective rack format is paramount for a successful installation.

Below, Tim Troast, Director of Physical Infrastructure Products at Middle Atlantic, discusses best practices when choosing, installing and utilizing rack formats in different types of infrastructures.

According to Troast, “when deciding what rack would be the best for your given application, there are two equally important paths to explore.” They are not mutually exclusive and can incorporate several layers of consideration. The following considerations are essential to approaching the decision making process in the most informed, and purposeful, way possible:

What’s Going in It?

According to Troast, “the nature of your system and the equipment that comprises it will dictate many factors about the rack that will suit your project needs. This ranges from the physicality of those components, how they perform when in use and how they are connected. Careful planning pays off in the long run, and to do that, consideration should be given to these factors”

Physical Attributes of Components

Why it’s important: “Equipment racks vary in size. There are options to accommodate varying heights, widths and depths, and the rack you choose should be sized appropriately to handle all the pieces of equipment that will be installed within it. Take some time to inventory how many components are being installed in the rack and their sizes. You may also want to take measures to future proof the equipment rack – components may change or be added over time so you may want to designate a few extra rack spaces for growth.”

Thermal Management

Why it’s important: “An AV system is comprised of active components that produce varying levels of heat.  It is vital to system reliability to think critically about ensuring adequate airflow for the components being installed and the amount of heat they give off. Not only does the rack need to be capable of removing the heat produced, but the space where the rack is located needs to be able to handle removing it as well.

Free online resources, like a ‘thermal calculator’, will help you plan for a system that maintains optimal rack temperatures. One version of these online thermal calculator is available from Middle Atlantic here.”

Cables and Capacity

Why it’s important:  “The size and nature of the rack you choose will be affected by the cables being used and the rack’s capacity to handle them.  If your installation is one that’s very cable-intensive, there are options available that provide extra lacing bars to manage cable bundles.  Consider also the depth of the deepest component being installed in the rack and plan on needing another 3″ – 6″ of useable rack depth.  This will account for the cables being routed to the equipment, as well as any vertical power strips you may install in the back of the rack to power the system.”

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