In most data center server racks, there are going to be slots that aren’t filled. This allows for future growth, but can also present some problems. These racks are designed to facilitate proper airflow, which will help to regulate the temperature of all the devices contained within. That design, however, is done with the assumption that each of the slots in the rack is going to be filled.
With this in mind, it is important to use blanking panels (often called filler panels) for each slot that isn’t in use. Blanking panels will allow the airflow to continue as if there were a device housed within. They also make the rack look better for those who happen to be in the area.
So, if you have a server rack with open spaces, it makes sense to purchase some blanking panels. The question is, which type do you want? You can get either plastic or metal panels, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages to be aware of. Due to the similar function, they will have some overlapping pros and cons.
Advantages of Plastic Blanking Panels
- Inexpensive – The plastic blanking panels are an extremely affordable option for filling the empty slots in server racks.
- Easy Installation – This model is designed to snap in place so they can be installed or removed without the need for any tools.
- Temperature Control – Using plastic blanking panels allows for better temperature control by improving the airflow of the rack.
- Air Flow – Blocking up the empty slots helps to prevent air mixing of different temperatures, and ensures the air flows where it is needed.
Disadvantage of Plastic Blanking Panels
- Less Durable than Metal – Plastic blanking panels are made to last, no question about it. If you have a server rack that is constantly getting worked on, however, the added durability of metal might be worth it.
Advantages of Metal Blanking Panels
- Very Durable – Not surprisingly, metal blanking panels are very durable and long lasting.
- Temperature Control – By keeping the air moving in the proper directions there is less risk of ‘hot spots’ or other temperature related issues.
- Air Flow – Blanking panels ensure the air flow follows the path intended by the designers of the server racks.
Disadvantages of Metal Blanking Panels
- More Expensive than Plastic – While still extremely affordable, the metal panels will be slightly more expensive.
- Heavier – While this might not be a big deal when installing just one, if you need to install dozens of them in multiple racks, carrying them around can be a chore.
- Sharper Edges – The metal filler panels are made with rounded edges for safety, but if you happen to really hit them hard, there isn’t any give like you’ll find on the plastic versions.
Which is Right for You?
Unfortunately, this is not a ‘one size fits all’ type of question, so we can’t give you a firm answer. Look at your unique server rack situation, and choose the panel that will serve your needs best. If you still aren’t sure, you can always contact us to discuss your situation and we may be able to help point you in the right direction.