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Blanking Panels: Everything you need to know

Blanking panels, also known as filler panels, close-out filler panels or rack spacer blanks are data center rack accessories used to fill up any empty rack shelves and close openings within the rack enclosure.

Typically, a blanking panel is a flat rectangular piece that matches the dimensions of a standard rack unit (U). Blanking panels are available in sizes ranging from 1U (1.75”) to 8U.

Types of Blanking Panels

Blanking panels are available in two types, depending on the material with which they have been manufactured – plastic and metal.

Plastic blanking panels are inexpensive when compared to metal blanking panels. They are also lightweight and easier to install, usually designed to snap into the rack space, unlike metal blanking panels that need to be screwed into place with tools.

That being said, metal (steel) blanking panels are more secure and cannot easily be tampered with to allow access into the rack space. They are also more durable when compared to plastic panels, due to the sturdiness of the material they are made of. If you have a server rack that is constantly changing, growing and evolving, then you might consider opting for metal blanking panels that can be reused for a longer period of time.

The Purpose of Blanking Panels

No data center is fitted with the exact number of rack shelves as the equipment in it. In fact, a good data center layout is one that includes space for future growth. However, empty rack shelf spaces also tend to disrupt airflow and aisle containment settings. This is why it is important to use blanking panels for every slot that is not being used.

If you have opted for hot or cold aisle containment within your data center, you will be aware that they are designed to function as if every rack shelf is filled. Blanking panels do just that; they create a situation where it seems like every rack shelf is filled. Therefore, blanking panels facilitate proper airflow, preventing the hot equipment exhaust from recirculating to the front of the racks.

Blanking panels are considered vital because they contribute to temperature control by keeping the air moving in the right direction. They also reduce the risk of hot spots within the aisles and prevent the mixing of hot and cool air within the data center. In fact, blanking panels make hot and cold aisle containment strategies more effective.

Common Misconceptions

Some believe that blanking panels are only needed if there are large gaps in the rack shelves. However, the truth is that a gap of any size can affect the inlet temperature.

Another misconception is that alternating empty shelves (between equipment) is good for improved cooling. On the contrary, it is hot air that fills into these gaps and has the reverse effect on the equipment.

The Cost Implications

A 1U blanking panel is easily affordable (contact us for a quote), but it can help you save quite a lot.

Rack-level power usage is more and efficiency is low when even a 1U rack space is left open, without a blanking panel. Put a blanking panel in place and enjoy greater efficiency, instantly!

What’s more, the inflow of hot air through the gap can affect up to two adjacent rack shelves, putting them at the risk of thermal damage. Therefore, investing in a few inexpensive blanking panels can go a long way in protecting your vital and expensive equipment.

Are you looking for low-cost, high-quality blanking panels to improve the efficiency of your data center? Get in touch with Hardy Racks today!

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