When looking to house and protect equipment, organizations can choose between open-frame racks or rack enclosures.
While both contain racks and can help organize/hold equipment, that’s where the similarities end.
Open-frame racks are rack systems that don’t have front, back, side, top or bottom panels or doors around the racks. Rack enclosures are cabinets with rack systems inside.
So, which one is right for your organization? Read on to find out!
If accessibility is the priority, open-frame racks are the way to go. Open-frame racks don’t have anything enclosing the racks, so team members can easily access the equipment stored on the racks. This can be a huge positive if frequent maintenance or unfettered access is necessary. Enclosures restrict that access with walls and doors.
Electronics need ventilation to prevent overheating while running. In that aspect, open-frame racks also excel as there is plenty of ventilation. But, while air can freely flow through and around the racks to cool the equipment, it’s all dependent on the ambient climate and can’t be controlled by the organization as well.
That’s where a rack enclosure is needed. Organizations can order enclosures with heating and/or cooling systems. This allows the organization to control the climate directly around the equipment to ensure everything is within ideal operating temperatures. Even without the upgraded systems, though, enclosures feature vented walls and doors for passive ventilation. Just remember that passive ventilation won’t be as noticeable as a powered system.
The more open the storage system, the less security it provides. Therefore, organizations should NEVER organize sensitive equipment in an open-frame rack system–there’s nothing to stop anyone from walking up and messing with the equipment. Organizations can outfit rack enclosures, on the other hand, with protective features, like keyed entry, to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing the equipment.
Airborne particulates and liquids can pose a big danger to equipment, no matter where it’s housed in the facility. This is another area where rack enclosures win.
Open-frame racks allow air to freely flow around and through the racks and equipment. While this is great for ventilation, it means there is nothing stopping dust and liquids from getting on and into the electronics. This can spell disaster for electronics over time.
A rack enclosure, though, can be outfitted with a filtration system (they come standard on all DustShield enclosures) to filter out particulates. An enclosure will also help ensure that liquids can’t accidentally splash or drip onto the electronics.
In addition, a rack enclosure can protect your cables. Cords and cables aren’t supported as well in an open-frame rack system, so they can be pulled on and the ports can get stressed, causing them to fail.
In an open-frame setup, all the electronics, cords and cables are on full display for everyone to see. In an enclosure, though, everything is housed and hidden inside the enclosure itself. This creates a much cleaner look for the area.
In addition, with an enclosure, the only thing that will get dusty is the actual box, which just needs to be wiped down to clean. With racks, though, dust can collect on each level, which can be hard to clean due to the small space between each rack.
Due to their simplicity, open-frame racks are more affordable than an enclosure. They require less materials and less labor to build.
Enclosures, on the other hand, require more materials and more labor to craft, so they are more costly.
In summary, open-frame racks might be more affordable and be more accessible, but that’s their main benefits. Rack enclosures provide more security, look better and do a much better job of protecting the equipment. In the end, your equipment will stay safer and is likely to run longer if housed in an enclosure, rather than out in the open of a rack.
At DustShield, we specialize in designing and building custom enclosures to help organizations protect their valuable equipment. If you’re interested in learning more, contact our enclosure specialists at 417.736.3746 or firstname.lastname@example.org now.