Blanking Panels: Why Your Server Racks Need Them

July 19, 2021

Data center server racks and entire rooms require meticulous planning. Blanking panels, also known as filler panels, are installed as server rack accessories. While they’re a relatively low-cost investment compared to the other components inside your server room, these simple blanking panels attached to your equipment racks offer important efficiency benefits.

What Are Blanking Panels?

Blanking panels are flat pieces of material used for cooling purposes. They fill the empty spots in a rack and separate hot and cold zones of air. They’re removed when equipment can fill in that space instead.

Server rack blanking panels are usually made from two types of materials and also have two common installation methods:

  • Metal: Aluminum or steel blanking panels are often fastened with screws. They’re sturdy, tamper-resistant and manufactured for longevity.
  • Plastic: As the less expensive variant of blanking panels, plastic is lightweight and doesn’t require tools to install. They are simply snapped into place on square-hole racks. However, they can be easily pried off.

You’ll find blanking panels are available in sizes like 1U, 2U and 4U, which correspond to the number of shelving units a single panel can cover. Which type of panel you choose makes little difference in terms of cooling. The costs, durability and aesthetics are the main distinctions between these filler panel varieties.

The Importance of Blanking Panels

Because of their plain appearance, blanking panels are sometimes overlooked. However, when you consider the thermal principles of warm and cool air moving within the data center environment, there are notable advantages for your facility’s cooling efficiency.

Without a blanking panel, the hot exhaust from your equipment can recirculate back through the server rack. Consequently, the fans will compensate for these increased temperatures by speeding up. The result is more power consumption and higher energy costs.

Blanking panels are instrumental to hot and cold aisle containment. In proper data center layouts, only one side of the aisle should have cool air entering and hot air leaving from the sides. ASHRAE TC 9.9 guidelines acknowledge that blanking panels are one of several fundamental cooling strategies to promote good airflow throughout server room devices.

Simply alternating filled and empty shelves of your server rack isn’t enough to keep your equipment cool — only hot air will occupy that space. Whether a gap in your server enclosure is only one unit or several, there are upsides to protecting your enclosure with a filler panel. If you have more shelving space than equipment available to install, you can occupy these areas with blanking panels then remove them as your data needs increase.

Request Server Rack Cooling Solutions From DataSpan

Just like a data center’s power needs, our team at DataSpan is well-versed in customizing cooling systems for facilities of any size. Our data center cooling experts can help you design and install an efficient system to manage your airflow and server room temperatures, thereby achieving lower energy costs.

To get started, fill out our online contact form or find your local representative today.