5 Ways to cool your IT cabinets

Networking equipment—especially servers—generates a lot of heat in a relatively small area. Today’s servers are smaller and have faster CPUs than ever. Because most of the power used by these devices is dissipated into the air as heat, they can really strain the cooling capacity of your data center. The components housed in a medium-sized data center can easily generate enough heat to heat a house in the dead of winter!

So cool you must, because when network components become hot, they’re prone to failure and a shortened lifespan. Damage caused by heat is not always immediately evident as a catastrophic meltdown—signs of heat damage include node crashes and hardware failures that can happen over a period of weeks or even moths, leading to chronic downtime.

It’s also important to ensure that individual cabinets used for network equipment provide adequate ventilation. The temperature inside a cabinet is affected by many variables, including door perforations, cabinet size, and the types of components housed within the cabinet.

The most direct way to cool network equipment is to ensure adequate airflow. The goal is that every server, every router, every switch has the necessary amount of air no matter how high or low it is in the cabinet. It takes a certain volume of air to cool a device to within its ideal temperature range. Equipment manufacturers provide very little guidance about how to do this; however, there are some very basic methods you can use to maximize the ventilation within your cabinets.

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Extending the life of your data center

Given the heat wave so much of the country is experiencing (deepest sympathy to those readers in Richmond, VA that may experience a heat index of 118 degrees today); we had an itch to talk about cooling. That is, cooling in the data center.

Did you know that legacy data centers waste at least 50% of the energy they consume managing heat generated by IT systems? Most data centers are not new; they are housed in buildings that are using practices that could be 20 years old and have not yet caught up with the latest trends.

Fully populated racks can dissipate as much as 7–25 kW of heat per rack. High-end servers can dissipate more than 40 kW per rack. This level of density requires data centers to provide power and cooling densities that exceed typical current capabilities.

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The best accessories for your IT cabinet

Once you’ve chosen your cabinet, whether it be customized Elite or an energy-saving ClimateCab, it’s time to add accessories for even more function.

Cabinets have two sets of rails, front and back, where you can mount shelves, trays, cable managers, and power strips.

Shelves
Cabinet shelves are an easy solution for storing things that aren’t rackmountable. The shelves attach to the rails; servers or other equipment sits on the shelves. Make sure the shelf has the weight capacity you need—some can hold hundreds of pounds. For easy access to components in your cabinet, choose a sliding shelf. There are also vented shelves that improve air circulation within the cabinet.

Although most shelves fit 19” rails, there are shelves that go on the less-common 23” rails. There are also brackets that can adapt many devices intended for 19” mount to 23” rails.

Keyboard Trays
Keyboard trays are space-saving solutions that also keep your data center organized. They slide neatly into your cabinet or rack—and out of your way—when not in use. And they usually fit into only 1U of rack space.

KVM Trays
Further reduce clutter in your server room by using KVM trays that are 1-or 2U high mounted in your cabinet. Special features of many KVM trays include rock-solid construction, LEDs on the front panel for easy location in a darkened data center, and integrated KVM switching.

Front-panel controls enable you to use the buttons on a monitor bezel without pulling out the keyboard. Some trays have USB ports for access.

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How do IT air conditioners work?

Although it might seem like air conditioners produce cold air, they actually work by removing hot air from the cabinet and transferring the heat away from the cabinet itself. The air flowing back into the enclosure has the heat removed and thus feels colder.

Air conditioners designed for cooling electronics have two basic systems at work within them: The first is the compressor, refrigerant, evaporator coil, and condenser coil system, which transfers the heat from inside the cabinet to outside the enclosure. The second is the air mover system, which is comprised of a cabinet-side blower and exterior-side blower. The cabinet side blower circulates the hot enclosure air over the evaporation coil, so that the refrigerant can pick up the heat energy and move it to the exterior of the air conditioner. The exterior-side blower then exhausts the heat away from the condenser coil to the outside of the air conditioner.

Unlike domestic building cooling, where the evaporator coil and blower are separate from the condenser coil, compressor, and condenser blower, systems designed for electronics cooling usually package these components together in one unit. Because electronics cooling is not designed for human comfort, the thermostat is typically not set any lower than 75° F (23.8° C). This higher temperature range reduces the chance of condensation forming inside the enclosure or on vital electronic equipment.

enclosure-airflow

Easy searching….Configurators and Selectors

Get the solutions you need

Configurators and Selectors are interactive tools that make it even easier for you to get the solutions you need. Whether it’s cables, cabinets, or KVM, we provide simple to use guides that help make your decisions a snap.

CATx Cable Selector
Quickly find the exact CAT5/5e/6/6a/7 cable you need.

Custom Cable and Adapter Configurator
Design your custom cable or adapter and submit your request to our engineers for review. A Black Box representative will contact you, typically in 24 hours or less, to confirm your order.

KVM Switch Selector
Find the perfect ServSwitch™ KVM solution for your application.

Cabinet Configurator
Twenty seconds to configure, two days to ship. Build your ideal cabinet, configured to your specs and shipped in two business days.

Wallmount Cabinet Selector
Select wallmount features in the order of your priorities and get a list of matching cabinets.