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Relay Rack Airflow Tips

Controlling airflow, reducing hotspots, and allowing lower temperature air to be circulated within the inside of a relay rack will increase equipment reliability. Heat has been proven to significantly reduce the service life of most equipment, which makes it vital to control the heat inside the rack. Maintaining a temperature below 85°F is recommended for most equipment. For every 10°F rise over 85°F, digital equipment life is reduced by approximately 40%. While the internal temperature of the rack should be 85°F, the room housing digital equipment should be in the range of 68°F to 75°F. The best way to control the temperature of equipment racks and enclosures is to have a thermal design which includes vented shelves and fans to ensure the functionality of the equipment. A Thermal Design involves:

  • How the heat travels through a rack
  • The air in the room that houses the rack
  • How the room heat is removed

Heat cannot come out of a cabinet unless the outside air is cooler.

Vented Shelves are an important component of the enclosure's internal airflow. Shelf surfaces that overhang within the rack should be vented. Any obstruction to airflow will raise the temperature in the relay rack. Proper fan/vent placement forces the air to circulate inside of a rack to break up hot spots. Fan panels with an onboard digital processor monitor rack temperature via an external sensor which helps remove hot air and promote vertical airflow in the top and rear of a rack where heat tends to build up. Venting in the wrong locations can cause hot spots. In some cases the re-arrangement of vents and equipment is required as well as cable management of large horizontal cable bundles that can also obstruct airflow. Adding equipment to a rack, can compromise the thermal design. Relay Rack design should take into account future expansion. Blank panels should be installed in unused rack and cabinet spaces to maximize and improve the functionality of the controlled air system. Vented panels should be added to the front cabinet rails, to prevent the recirculation of hot air. Providing adequate air flow in an enclosure to keep the internal rack temperature below 85°F will provide for the best operation of Rack-mounted equipment.

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