Guide to Buying Server Rack Shelves

May 26, 2023

Specialized racks and cabinets for IT hardware holding have holes for fastening equipment. However, not all devices are possible to attach to vertical posts. In such cases, shelves come to the rescue. Server shelves accommodate more devices and provide extra space for placing equipment. So, they come as a helpful accessory for network system setup.

Server shelves are designed to maximize efficiency and organization within network systems. These versatile accessories offer a practical solution for mounting equipment that cannot be directly attached to vertical posts. With their adjustable and sturdy construction, server shelves are ideal for accommodating various devices.

Modern manufacturers produce multiple kinds of flat accessories. Depending on the purpose, they distinguish several types of shelves:

  • fixed;
  • sliding;
  • for keyboards, laptops, and monitors.

Judging by the size, they fall into full-sized and half platforms. Models differ in depth and construction. The main task of the network rack shelf is to carry server hardware, cables, and accessories.

Shelf & Rack Compatibility

Note that there are 2-post and 4-post shelves on the market. A 4-post server rack shelf is designed for installation in cabinets with 4 uprights only. Another case is the use of 2-post products in 4-upright cabinets. For example, most 4-upright cabinets allow for installing 2-upright shelves. Buying a 2-post shelf for a 4-upright rack helps reduce the load on the frame and improve equipment carrying capacity.

The main thing to consider is to check the points of attachments. Cabinets should have at least 2 points of attachments to allow for fastening shelves. If your model has only one attachment point, most shelves will be incompatible with your furniture.

Accessories for Each Type of Rack-Mount Hardware

Different kinds of shelves are preferable depending on the type of mounted equipment. Here they are:

  • Desktop PCs. Durable fixed platforms are usually used to support heavy computers. They are usually thicker and designed to carry more weight. They do not move; when attached, they are fastened in one position without the ability to slide in and out.
  • Patch panel. Sliding half shelves are usually used in this case. Sliding platforms are perfect when taking devices or accessories off frequently is necessary. They significantly simplify maintenance and make devices easily reachable.
  • Switches. Adjustable switch platforms are common for this class of components. Such platforms are equipped with a side server rack tray. Since they are adjustable, they perfectly fit different cabinet widths. A hook-and-loop strap for securing switches is attached.

Additionally, panels for keyboards, monitors, mice, and other control tools are available. So, look through the options and select the needed ones.

How to Select a Suitable Server Rack Platform?

As you see, manufacturers offer a wide range of models. To choose an appropriate network cabinet shelf, system administrators should keep in mind the next parameters:

  1. Type of equipment. Think about what kind of devices you plan to accommodate on panels. Is it active equipment or additional accessories? How much space is required to house this hardware?
  2. Ease of access. Here, you should clarify the following questions. How often will you need to access devices? How frequently is hardware maintained? Shelves should provide easy and comfortable access to stored components first.
  3. Weight and depth. Consider your rack’s dimensions to ensure the platform will fit your furniture. Check whether your cabinet is deep enough to accommodate the accessory. As for weight, technicians should find out the weight of your hardware and the carrying capacity of your shelf and cabinet. Calculate the permissible weight per rack and shelf to ensure they meet specs and will reliably support equipment throughout a long period.
  4. Sliding or fixed shelves. When deciding between these two options, consider the following points:
  • the frequency of access to equipment;
  • the frequency of cable maintenance on the back side of the cabinet;
  • the weight of mounted hardware.

Note that in most cases, a sliding feature wins. Technicians usually prefer sliding models to ensure smooth and easy device access. The only case when a fixed shelf is recommended is when it is necessary to place heavy equipment. Fixed models have a higher weight ceiling and can hold heavier devices. In all other cases, sliding platforms are preferable.

Rails VS Rack Shelves: Comparison & Advantages

Rails and shelves differ in terms of construction and fastening method. Rails are L-shaped hinges or brackets that support hardware from the sides instead of providing a flat platform for mounting. Here are the main benefits of rails:

  1. Rails are cost-effective solutions for server racks. They require less material for production, which means being more eco-friendly and budgetary.
  2. They do not occupy much space in the rack since they are fastened alongside vertical uprights.
  3. They are adjustable to any rack dimension (width and depth) since they do not connect both sides uprights of the rack.
  4. Still, they allow sliding hardware from and into the cabinet. Since rails have a sliding mechanism, they can slide in and out.
  5. Moreover, they provide extra opportunities for air circulation since solid panels do not hinder airflow.

Does it mean that rails are preferable to shelves? It is true that, in most cases, rails can replace shelves. Yet, if you need to accommodate a heavy device, it is recommended to use shelves.

Shelves are important accessories for server cabinet arrangement. They are widely used to store and place different passive and active hardware types. By providing more space for equipment fastening, platforms improve rack ergonomics and help achieve better space allocation. Multiple types of panels are available for various kinds of devices. Users can choose between fixed or sliding options and find solutions for each system and purpose.

Sometimes, shelves can be replaced by rails, a cost-effective, compact tool. Yet, each type of accessory is worth attention. Select suitable options, considering the above-mentioned guide, and do not forget to analyze all parameters when picking the needed product.


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