Containment Solutions

What options are available to help with the look and functionality of a workspace?

When having a network installed or upgraded you need to consider what way you want the cables contained as they lead around your premises, the containment provides organisation protection and a cosmetic feel. This is our guide that helps you choose what's best for you.
Girl in a jacket
Modern cable containment solutions have a strong visual and functional impact on the area and having a professionally installed solution in place means you benefit from the visual appeal as well as the functionality of the solution. There are several solutions available to hold and manage the cable and how they are presented to the user.
Cable containment starts inside the organisation's data cabinet in the form of cable management bars and rails which keep the internal cables organised and tidy. Leading away from the cabinet to other locations of the building there is cable tray, basket or trunking which carries the bulk structured cabling throughout the property and connects out to various locations where the termination points will be installed. At these termination points, you have several options such as wall-mounted dado rail, flush floor boxes that have a lid or a simple trunking or conduit option that is mounted on the surface of the walls, these are discussed below.

DADO Rail

Also known as compartmented trunking, this type is typically installed around the perimeter of office-type space at waist height. It is used to contain both 3-pin power sockets and data points. Lower budget units come with one compartment to house both low and high-voltage cables. Lynch Networks only installs 3-compartment rail as this gives the required insulation between the low and high-voltage cables as well as cable organisation. This solution needs to be installed level around the room as any differences in install height can throw off the look of a room.
DADO Rail being Installed

Flush Floor Box with Lid

Floor-mounted boxes also known as recessed floor boxes are a great way to manage your outlets as these units can be installed in the exact location where users need them. Some desks may be located in the middle of a floor space and having a floor box there means that the power and data cables can appear where they are required and the access lid means the power and data points are hidden away and protected. Please note that we don’t install floor boxes into concrete floors. The units we supply need to be installed into a suspended floor which uses suspended floor tiles or a typical joist floor. The boxes will need around 7 inches of hollow space below the finished surface.

For most installations, we use standard but high-quality floor box units. But it is good to know that our stockists have various options such as brushed aluminium and brass finish for display areas in lobbies, hotels or reception areas etc..

Galvanised Conduit - Class 4

Galvanised conduit is useful for locations where accidental damage or impact could occur to data points and will often be found in busy factory and industrial environments although some folks like the industrial style and have chosen it simply for its visual impact in modern and bespoke design locations.
There are 4 different categories of steel conduit with Class 4 having the best protection rating, its galvanised finish prevents it from rusting and we have seen a number of Class 2 and 3 installations rusting. Unless specified Lynch Networks will only use Class 4. You can tell the class as it's normally marked on the tubing, if there is no marking is possibly a lower class of protection.

Surface or Flush Mounted?

Having the containment for your installation surface mounted means that the conduit or trunking is mounted to the surface of the wall or ceiling and is visible, this is a standard solution for a lot of location types and once installed correctly should look presentable. Some folks will prefer to have cables run inside the walls so there is no containment needed leading to the data points which gives a less visible presence and a minimalistic look. The decision between the two often comes down to installation cost as the flush solution will be more expensive due to the extra labour involved in making routes behind walls etc.

Choosing an Enclosure for Your Equiptment

Server cabinets, open racks, comms cabinets, wall mounted or free standing, mesh fronted or clear. There are several types to choose from which are all based on the industry standard 19inch wide rack mount rail that was first introduced in 1922 by AT&T.

When choosing an enclosure the initial decision is based on how many devices you need to accommodate and second of all how deep those devices are.

Generally, cabinets will come between 450mm and 1200mm deep. You need to have the enclosure deep enough or your devices simply will not fit. Generally, switches, patch panels, and cable management bars will all fit easily into a 450mm deep cabinet but if you want to house servers you may need a cabinet between 1000 and 1200mm deep.

It's a great decision to choose an enclosure that has some type of cable management along the sides of the rails. We can't recommend this enough. Look for cable management on both sides with access to the back of the cabinet as this will make the IT professional's job a lot easier as well as help make your cabinet look neat and more functional.

The side cable management will take up the patch cables slack which is used to connect between devices otherwise you will sacrifice U space to include cable management bars.

Point of note; cable management bars may come with a small extra benefit other than helping to organise cables and this comes in the form of allowing the active devices above or below more airflow and helping with cooling which is important and discussed further below.

The height of an enclosure is measured in units which are commonly referred to as U, both in Europe and America. The full name is Rack Units (RU).

A typical device like a switch, for example, will occupy 1U while a rack server generally occupies 4U. Each 1U of space will occupy 3 holes of the rail which is 44.45mm.

When you have decided how many units you need your rack to accommodate and how deep the cabinet needs to be don't forget to consider space for future expansion, security, cooling and airflow.

Cooling

Data centres will benefit from having hot and cold isles with cold air blowing into the front of the racks and the hot air exhausting out the back but this facility is not available to most rack environments. Often an AC unit is sufficient to keep the room temperature to a preferable 19/21 degrees celcius. This ensures the active hardware runs efficiently and that heat doesn't reduce the lifespan of the hardware. If no AC unit is available a simple fan tray can help keep air moving.

Locking & Security

Having locks on all panels is wise for physically securing the hardware inside from theft and ensuring no one makes unauthorised modifications or changes to the hardware.