The Differences Between Fixed & Sliding Server Rack Shelves


Deciding between fixed or sliding server rack shelves depends on the type of equipment you are planning to mount inside your cabinet. Heavy items such as Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units and large tower servers are fine for fixed shelves, while smaller objects that need easier access, like laptops, are better for sliding shelves.

Cable management is also a concern, as are load specifications. Below are some guidelines for choosing between shelving options.

Sliding Shelves

These are versatile shelves suited for equipment that needs to be accessed regularly. Sliding shelves are typically made for lighter equipment (under 200lbs), though some manufacturers do produce heavy duty options that can hold around 500lbs. Weight in this category is a more important concern than it is with fixed shelves.

For example, when mounting a laptop to a light duty shelf, it’s important to factor in the added weight and pressure distributed by user interaction; the act of resting the hands and typing can add extra weight to the shelving, which could cause it to fail.

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Sliding shelves tend to have smaller cable management arms (CMAs) to make up space for the slider rails. This can make things complicated if the cable mounts are blocked by other cables or ventilation at the back of the rack.

The cable thread size may also be limited on these shelves, so users should check to be sure it is suitable. Anti-slip mats and straps should also be a priority to keep equipment from accidentally falling off when the shelf is moved. Finally, sliding shelves usually need a 4-post type of rack cabinet in order support the shelf and let it slide smoothly.

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Fixed Shelves

For equipment that does not see a lot of personal interaction, fixed shelves are a suitable option. They are secure and typically more load bearing, making them a good candidate for mounting larger units like UPS. Because they use thinner fixed rails as opposed to sliding rails, they also offer a wider range of cable management techniques.

They typically have more varied hole types to support all kinds of cables. If the rails do not have the correct type of built-in cable management, or it is simply in the wrong place for your needs, there are CMAs made for fixed racks too. Users should be aware of the load and mounting specifications of their rack, however, so the rack does not get overloaded with too much heavyweight equipment.

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While fixed shelves typically do not get as much interaction as their sliding counterparts, it is still important to make them accessible when needed. Some racks are built to provide easy access for the user to dismount or slide a unit from the shelf. Those heavier objects may have to be removed along with the shelf due to sheer weight or other accessibility issues.

Many fixed shelves have different options for mounting dependent on the cabinet. This means they can be mounted to both 4 post or 2 post racks. However, users should double check the shelving before they buy to make sure it can be mounted within their cabinet.

In addition to her work with RackSolutions – Katrina has a video series featured on Youtube called ask Katrina that aids in answering your IT needs

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