Picking the Right Shelf for Your Server Rack

Picking the Right Server Rack Shelf

When placing equipment into your server rack, it is important to make sure that it is done in such a way that will ensure the equipment is protected from any potential problems. This often means installing shelves into the racks, which can hold things like laptops, desktop computers, monitors, printers, and even many types of servers. a server rack shelf can be used in 2-post and 4-post server racks, and when chosen correctly, can help ensure your equipment is not only safe, but also accessible when you need it.

What to Consider when Choosing a Server Rack Shelf

If you look through the available inventory of mounting shelves, you’ll quickly see that this isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation. There are many different shelving options to choose from, each of which is designed for specific things. Rather than just purchasing the first one you see and hoping it works, make sure to look closely at the following factors:

  • Size – The size of the server rack shelf is going to determine what types of equipment can be placed on it. A 6’’ shelf is great for keyboards and even some types of monitors. A 19’’ shelf can hold printers, laptops, and other larger items. Choose the right size shelf for the items you want to add to your server racks.
  • Rack Type – As mentioned above, there are shelving units designed for either a 2 or a 4-post server rack. Make sure you select the shelving that will fit into the rack type you have.
  • Weight Limits – If you’re looking to put larger items onto the shelf, it is important to make sure the shelving hardware can withstand the weight.
  • Ventilation – Virtually all shelf designs will have some type of ventilation built in. Placing a server or other device that generates a lot of heat, however, will require more ventilation than a laptop, for example. You also want to consider the airflow of the entire rack and see how the shelf will impact it.
  • Fixed or Sliding – You can choose from fixed shelving that won’t move once it is installed, or shelving that can slide in and out for easier access.
  • Cable Organization – Most shelves will have some type of cable management built in. Make sure the option you choose will work with your existing cable management strategy, if applicable.

General Recommendations

To get a good idea of how to pick the right shelf for your rack, read through some of the following scenarios that will give examples of how data center managers handle these types of decisions. These are just general ideas regarding how to choose a shelf, not specific recommendations for any shelving need.

  • Shelving a Laptop – Laptops don’t weight to much, and in most cases, don’t generate too much heat. It is important to be able to easily access these devices when working with them. With this in mind, a sliding laptop shelf would be an ideal solution for a 4-post server rack.
  • Shelving a Printer – Printers are bulky and heavy. In most situations, people will only need to access the front and top of them to add paper and retrieve printed items. There is usually no need to move the printer, and it won’t generate a lot of heat, so a 1U adjustable rack shelf will provide plenty of room, and can handle the weight of most printers. An adjustable shelf can be moved up or down to accommodate the precise height of the printer you own.
  • Shelving a Desktop PC – Keeping desktop PCs in a server rack can help keep them safe and secure. They can generate a decent amount of heat so ventilation is important, but the weight requirements usually won’t be too high. If you have a 2-post rack, the 1U cantilever vented shelf is a great option. For 4-post racks, a medium duty server rack shelf is ideal, and can even hold more than one PC depending on the size.

Of course, there are many other things that may need to be placed on a shelf inside a server rack. Taking the time to evaluate your specific needs, and finding the perfect shelving solution, is well worth the effort and will help ensure your equipment is safe, yet accessible, for years to come.


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