How to improve airflow in your network cabinet

How to improve airflow in your network cabinet

There are many important reasons to invest in optimizing the airflow of your cabinet, no matter what the size of your data operations.


First of all, servers, networking switches and all your hardware needs to be kept cool in order to keep functioning at all, much less functioning more efficiently. Eliminating hot spots as much as possible and having proper airflow to keep the cool air moving prevents downtime when the equipment overheats and needs to spend time off to cool down. When your hardware is off, you’re not working and that costs money.

Furthermore, while it takes a significant amount of power to run the servers and switches in the first place, it takes almost more energy to cool air and move it through your racks to keep that hardware cool and functioning. That energy also costs money.

The more efficiently your cooling system and the more effectively air flows through your racks, the more money you save.

There is a lot of good things to be said for fully loaded cabinets that are delivered completely assembled and ready for installation, but opting for a cabinet that’s a blank slate and then customizing it with the accessories you choose has its upsides too. That might be more cost effective and better option if, for example, your data center has a wide variety of hardware instead of rows of standardized servers.

There are several types of accessories you can use to optimize any cabinet with an efficient cooling system: baffles, grommets, cable managers and blanking panels. Today, we’re going to focus on blanking panels - what they are, what they are for, and how to purchase them.

Cabinet blanking panels for improving airflow and reducing costs

Tool-less installed blanking panels are perhaps the least expensive, fastest way to immediately improve the airflow management in your cabinet and cool down your equipment. Blanking panels are simply narrow barriers, usually made of plastic, that keep cool air and warm air separate in your rack. They are installed in unused rack space to block bypass air and prevent re-circulation.

Legrand Cabinets and Containment Business in North America has durable, easy to use plastic blanking panels that ship in larger sheets that can be broken up in whatever size panels you need for your cabinet. We’ve built better blanking panels because we know racks and we know that when you have a variety of servers, switches and other hardware in a rack, there are any number of gaps or spaces that need to be blocked off to optimize airflow.

For example, not everyone spends a lot of time thinking about the small space between the bottom of a rack or cabinet and the raised floor it is sitting on, but that space is a prime suspect for causing recirculation of warmed air into the equipment. Long term, recirculation results in overheated equipment and downtime, which costs money. Not to mention in the short term, you’re spending more money on energy to cool down servers that, if better ventilated, would require much less.

Upsite Technology ran Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling studies to demonstrate the impact of using plastic blanking to block that space under a rack:

“Temperatures for servers in the bottom of the racks were reduced by an average of 10.5 degrees F, with a maximum reduction of 18.9 degree F. Additionally, at the room level, cooling unit fan speeds were reduced by 10% without causing any IT equipment intake air temperatures to exceed 80.6 degrees F.”

That reducing in fan speed - just by 10% as a result of using blanking - resulted in an energy savings of $5,318 a year for the small space being tested in the model; for a 20,000-square-foot data center, that’s almost $50,000 a year in energy savings.

Modern, modular cabinet systems save you money

Legrand Cabinets and Containment Business in North America offers EZ Blanking sheets as well as standard plastic blanking available in 1 or 2 RU. The EZ Blanking sheets are shipped as a pack of six sheets of 10RU panels each that can be broken into whatever size panels you need.

Both the EZ blanking and plastic blanking products snap in place with no tools required for installation and have no need for additional mounting hardware. They are designed to conform with EIA standard 19-inch rail spacing and can be used with almost any Legrand CAC racks.

If you’re looking for guidance on what options will work with your cabinets, let us know. We’re here to help.

Learn more about Legrand's airflow solutions today

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