by Blair Haas, Bud Industries Inc.

In this economy, finding cost savings is more important than ever. Today, to keep server rack projects funded, they have to be rethought and value engineered. Often an area that is overlooked is taking a fresh look at the enclosure requirements. To provide a fresh review, the engineer must consider each of the following topics:

1. Do you need a traditional rack cabinet or a desktop cabinet?

Custom dictates that rack enclosures should be used if the equipment requirements are more than a few “U” (1.75″) in height. Today, with improved features and production methods, desktop cabinets can be a low cost solution for those mid-size mounting requirements. In fact, it is often less expensive to buy two 18 U cabinets than one 36 U cabinet rack due to reduced weight and load requirements.

2. Do you need an enclosed equipment rack?

Double Rack 19 Inch Electronics Rack

Double relay rack

If the equipment is being used in a lab or in an enclosed space, often a relay rack will suffice. There are now double relay racks available that provide four-post support for even the heaviest loads. If the product is not being used in a public location, open racks are the perfect answer. An alternative, if a welded rack is needed, is to buy the cabinet rack less the sides and door, eliminating the unneeded features.

3. Can you use a manufacturer’s standard enclosure heights?

If the specification is for 18 U and the manufacturer has a standard rack that is 20U, it is much less expensive to leave blank space in the rack (perhaps covered with matching panels) than it is to have the manufacturer create a unit that meets the unique required dimensions. The same would hold true for the depth as well. With adjustable panel mounting rails, it is easy to leave empty space in the rear of the cabinet by moving the rails a few inches forward.

4. Are server cabinet accessories included?

Turnkey Assembly 19 inch Cabinet Rack

Turnkey Assembly 19 Inch Cabinet Rack

It is often hard to compare 19 inch rack cabinet costs accurately as some include sides or doors, while others do not. Be sure to review the specifications carefully to be sure you are receiving the best value for your money. Also keep in mind that there are “turn-key” units available that might include many of the “extras” that are meaningful to you, including shelves, glass doors, fan trays, and more. It is typically less expensive for the manufacturer to include these items and save on unit packaging costs than it is for them to sell each item individually. The selling price will typically reflect this savings.

5. Finally, does the manufacturer offer multiple styles of 19″ enclosures?

Often, it is a matter of “glitz,” which is most appropriate when consumers are being addressed. In the original selection, the engineer might not have reviewed all options but specified the first appropriate product that was identified. As long as the cabinet racks have similar panel space and depth, they are functionally interchangeable.

In the past, the selection of the cabinet rack was often a decision that was made late in the process and was given little thought. Today, that is no longer possible. A complete review of the options will provide the ideal unit at a great price.


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