A guide to buying server rack shelves

Aug 20 , 2021

Different types of equipment find their way into server racks, and there are many ways that you can mount them. If you’re going to use server rack shelves, you’ll want to find the most economical options for your needs. In order to make the best purchasing decisions, you’ll need to know things like when a sliding shelf might be a better option than a fixed shelf, or when you can get away with mounting a 2 post shelf inside of a 4 post rack. Server Rack Shelves are a type of enclosure and racking accessory that has been specifically designed to fit in 19" server cabinets.

The racks are easily adjustable with some shelves vented to allow for airflow, helping to cool any equipment down that might be prone to over-heating. Heavy duty shelves are also available and are able to hold more weight than a cantilever shelf.

As cabling is also an issue in server racks, the shelves have been designed to enable cable management.

  • Types of Server Rack Shelves

A shelf is measured by using rack units (U or RU) and is defined as 44.5 mm (1.75 in). A server rack is typically 42U high with the equipment being anywhere between 1U and 6U high.

The types of rack mount shelves include fixed vented rack mount, rack mount modem, cantilever, telescopic cantilever, half racks and side mounting trays. Server rack shelves can quite often be mounted via the front or the rear of the cabinet.

Server rack shelves are available with a variety of different depths, colours as well as support for a variety of different maximum loads.

  • How to install a Server Rack Shelf

The racks are easily moved either by sliding the shelves into various slots in the cabinet or, if they are fixed shelves, mounted using brackets and cage nuts. The width of the rack can be adjusted to accommodate the server.Server rack accessories can also be rack-mounted and include drawers designed to hold manuals or cables.

  • When to use 2 post shelves in 4 post racks

People purchase server rack shelves for essentially all of their non-server equipment. That means that they need to support a wide range of dimensions and weight of equipment. 

Even though it might seem intuitive to buy a 4 post shelf because you have a 4 post rack, most 4 post racks will be able to accept most 2 post shelves. Buying the right amount of 2 post shelves for your 4 post rack can help reduce load on your rack, increase equipment’s exposure to air, save money and use less resources. 

The first thing you will want to check is whether or not your rack has two mounting points on each upright. 4 post rack mounting equipment usually only has a single point of attachment per post, while 2 post racks more often have two points of attachment. 

If your rack has two points of attachment, then most 2 post shelves will be compatible. If there is only one point of attachment, then your options will be limited. 

  • Best shelves for each type of equipment

When you know which shelves will work with your rack, but what shelves are best for your equipment? 

Common rackmount equipment:

  • Desktop PCs / tower servers: Fixed Rack Shelf / Sliding Equipment Shelf
  • Uninterruptible power supplies: Heavy Duty Sliding Shelf / 2U Fixed Heavy Duty Rack Shelf    
  • Large switches: Extreme Heavy Duty Sliding Shelf (500 lbs) / 2U Fixed Heavy Duty Rack Shelf 
  • Standard switches: Adjustable Switch Shelf / 2 Post Rack Sliding Half Shelf   
  • Patch panels: 2U Configurable Cantilever 2 Post Rack Shelf – 13″ depth / 2 Post Rack Sliding Half Shelf 
  • Mouse and keyboard or laptop: Light Duty Laptop Shelf / Laptop Sliding Shelf
  • Amplifier: Fixed Rack Shelf / Sliding Equipment Shelf

Of course, there are varying sizes within each of these categories of equipment. Some may even be able to be rack-mounted with their included ears. 

  • How to choose between a sliding and fixed shelf

When deciding whether to use a sliding or fixed shelf, here are some questions you should ask yourself: 

  • How often will I need to access cables in the back of the shelf? 
  • How often will I need to remove equipment or perform maintenance? 
  • Will a sliding feature allow me to more easily access the equipment?
  • How important is ease of use to me? 
  • What is my weight capacity? 

There’s not much getting around it, sliding shelves are always going to be the nicer product. So most of the decision revolves around your budget and how much being able to easily access equipment can improve your workflow. 

The only exception to this is if you need a high weight capacity. The weight capacity ceiling will generally be higher on a fixed shelf and lower on a sliding shelf. If the weight capacities are even, the sliding shelf will likely be more expensive if built with the same quality. 

  • When can rails be alternatives for rack shelves?

If equipment doesn’t have a proprietary mounting solution and it will be left in one place for a while, it’s natural to assume that shelving it might be the best solution. This is usually true, but sometimes there’s a more cost effective way to go about it. 

Universal Rack Rails are essentially shelves with L shaped hinges that support equipment from both sides rather than having a platform to lay things on top of. This means that they use less material, and they’re still simple to slide equipment off. 

You will be able to install these rails no matter what width of your rack is since the two brackets do not need to connect. Additionally, Reducer Brackets can be utilized to mount smaller equipment like patch panels or switches

  • Applications of server rack shelves

Server rack shelves are often utilised to securely hold devices such as keyboards or other types of electronics equipment. 

Looking for Server Rack Shelves?

Cantilever Shelf    Adjustable Depth Server Rack Shelf     Sliding Rack Shelf   

From data center to outdoor telecom infrastructure products, AZE has the right product for you. AZE designs and manufactures Server Racks and Enclosures, Outdoor Telecom Cabinets and Electronic Enclosures, Power Distribution (Basic Rack PDUs and Smart PDUs), KVM Switches and Fiber optics products to globe customers in the market.

Make IT Connected, AZE can support you to make IT happen with affordable cost.

Contact AZE  to customize your server rack shelf solutions

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