Cabinet Load Ratings: Why They Matter (and Why They’re Changing)


Cabinet Load Ratings

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To make better use of floor space and decrease operating costs, more active gear is being placed inside cabinets and enclosures. As a result, they’re getting wider, deeper and taller. Just a few years ago, most enclosures offered 42 RUs or 45 RUs of space. Today, however, many cabinets offer 48 RUs of space – and can offer as many as 52 RUs (or more).

But as cabinets grow in size to accommodate more active gear, they also get heavier. If cabinets get too heavy, the floor may not be able to support them; the cabinets may also be very difficult to move (rolled from one spot to another, transported for loading and shipping, etc.).

It’s becoming crucial to analyze load ratings (also known as “load capacities”) when selecting enclosures. Here are the load ratings you need to know:

- *Static load rating*: How much weight a cabinet can hold when racks are loaded in the data center
- *Dynamic load rating*: How much weight a cabinet can accommodate when shipped fully loaded (important to note with services like Data Center Ready becoming more popular)
- *Rolling load rating*: How much weight a cabinet can tolerate as it is moved/rolled across the floor

Most enclosures are listed against UL 2416 for static load. Just a few years ago, the average static load rating was approximately 1500 pounds; now, a static load rating of 3000 pounds isn’t unusual. In many cases, dynamic and rolling load ratings will be the same for a cabinet.

It’s also critical to note that static, dynamic and rolling load ratings are *not* the same as a cabinet’s seismic rating. Seismic ratings indicate how much protection the rack-mount equipment in a cabinet will receive during an earthquake. (We’ll cover this topic in an upcoming blog post.)

While a cabinet’s width, depth and height can influence load ratings, there are other factors to consider as well.


## Cabinet Construction

There are two main enclosure types: fully welded enclosures and enclosures with bolted-together components. A bolted design allows cabinets to be shipped flat, saving shipping costs. Typically, however, fully welded enclosures have higher load ratings; they can adequately support more weight from active gear.

Corner post geometry and the steel gauge (thickness) used to construct corner posts and mounting rails can also influence a cabinet’s load rating.


## Casters

Before a cabinet is shipped, it is often loaded with switches, servers and everything else needed. Then, it is tested and commissioned. Once testing is complete, the cabinet is shipped to the end-user. To get the enclosure into a truck, however, it needs to be rolled – and then rolled again once it arrives at its destination.

Moving an enclosure across the floor doesn’t just require an adequate rolling load rating – it also requires the correct casters. Heavy-duty casters make a world of difference in accommodating a heavier rolling load rating, as well as withstanding rolling movement. There’s a significant load-rating difference (up to 1000 pounds or more) between a cabinet with regular-capacity casters and a cabinet with high-capacity casters.


## Built-In Levelers

Levelers don’t impact a cabinet’s static, rolling or dynamic load rating – but they can make it much easier to safely move a cabinet. For best performance of active gear, enclosures need to be level. Built-in levelers underneath enclosures allow installers to move cabinets and level them once they’re in place.

A few years ago, cabinets were leveled before equipment was placed inside – which made it more difficult to move the cabinet and ensure that everything remained level. Today, however, built-in levelers allow you to install equipment inside beforehand and level the enclosures once the cabinets are loaded.


## Vibration

Vibration doesn’t directly influence load ratings, either, but the ability of a cabinet to withstand vibration and shocks when being moved – without distortion – is an important factor.

Many times, special shock-absorbent pallets are used to insulate active gears mounted in the enclosure to offer protection during transportation.


## Belden

Belden’s X Series enclosures – XHM and XHS – have a static load rating of 3000 pounds. They seamlessly integrate power distribution, airflow containment and management, networking connectivity and cable management. They are shipped fully assembled and configured to your exact specifications, with several options for doors, side panels, passive chimneys or active AEHC units and PDU mounting.

Learn more about the data center solutions available from Belden to help maximize space, save time, speed up deployment, reduce downtime and save costs here.


Advances in Multi-Fiber Connectivity WP CTA
Advances in Multi-Fiber Connectivity WP CTA Source: Spine and Leaf (1st) test

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