What Makes a Good Server Rack Cabinet for Harsh Environments?

In a perfect world, all critical IT equipment would be housed in a climate-controlled, impenetrable cloud, with remote management and a redundant failover system on the other side of the planet.

But in the real world, servers and switches sometimes have to work amid the dust and dirt of factory floors, utility plants and warehouses. They have to contend with water in the form of steam, splashes and drips. They are surrounded by foot traffic and falling debris. Under these environmental circumstances, the right NEMA 12 server cabinet can be the key to preventing equipment failure and costly replacements.

Rack Protection in Harsh Environments

NEMA 12 (IP54) racks are ideal for areas high in moisture, dust and debris

Look for these rack features to support the performance and longevity of critical equipment:

Filters: Dust is a major culprit; it can congest fans and vents and cause overheating. Built-in filters trap dust and keep it away from equipment inside the rack.   

Ventilation: Even air-conditioned spaces can heat up quickly when they are housing switches and servers. Look for racks with fans and ventilation that support front-to-rear airflow to prevent the recirculation of heat back to equipment.

Sealing: Doors, gaskets and cable ports are all vulnerable points on a rack through which moisture and contaminants can reach equipment. Racks should properly seal off these points.

Accessibility: In tight spaces, racks will ideally have a design that can help with accessibility, like front and rear reversible doors. They should also have security features that deny access for unauthorized users and protect equipment from tampering and theft.

Durability: Steel frame racks can best protect against falling objects, collisions and even jolts and vibrations from surrounding equipment.

NEMA 12 and IP54 Ratings

To take the guesswork out of identifying a rack enclosure’s protection capabilities, NEMA (National Electronic Manufacturers Association) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) have created standardized ratings.

Look for a NEMA 12 network cabinet rating for indoor industrial use. NEMA 12 applies to enclosures that protect against dust, falling dirt, dripping noncorrosive liquids and incidental human contact.

IEC assigns two-digit IP (Ingress Protection) ratings. The first digit represents the degree of protection against solid objects based on the sizes of exposed openings; the second digit represents protection against water. For standard indoor industrial use, an IP54 rating is optimal as it indicates reliable protection against dust down to wire size (1 mm) openings and against dripping and splashing water.

NEMA 12 and IP54 are used for similar applications and generally indicate the same level of protection. For more details about these ratings, refer to this NEMA/IEC Rack Enclosure Ratings Guide on the Tripp Lite website.

Tripp Lite SmartRack Enclosures

Tripp Lite offers a selection of NEMA 12- and IP54-rated server rack enclosure cabinets to suit your harsh environment.

Questions? Contact Us


What’s the Difference Between Surge Protectors, Line Conditioners and UPS Systems?

Your options for protecting home and office electronics from power problems can be a bit confusing. Surge protectors, line conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS systems) all have outlets for AC equipment, protect against power surges and filter line noise to help prevent EMI/RFI interference. Line conditioners and UPS systems, however, have additional types of protection. Your best choice for power protection depends on your equipment, your application and the quality of your facility’s electricity.

Surge Protectors

Reliable Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

Surge protectors are your best defense against AC voltage surges and spikes that can ruin your valuable equipment in a flash or build up damage over time. Look at the joule rating when comparing surge protectors – a higher rating means more protection. Some models even protect phone and data lines. Surge protectors also help prevent EMI/RFI line noise from interfering with equipment performance.

Line Conditioners

Voltage Regulation, Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

Line conditioners are your best defense against brownouts, which are low-voltage power sags that can cause your equipment’s internal power supply and circuitry to work harder. Frequent exposure to brownouts can overheat these sensitive components, leading to equipment failure. Line conditioners automatically adjust low and high voltages to provide safe computer-grade power. In addition to voltage regulation, line conditioners offer surge protection and line noise filtering.

UPS Systems

Voltage Regulation (Line-Interactive and On-Line Models), Battery Backup, Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

UPS systems are your best defense against downtime, damage and data loss. All UPS systems provide battery backup to keep equipment up and running through short blackouts and brownouts, providing you with enough time to save data and shut down properly during longer outages. A UPS system can also keep equipment powered during transfer to generator power.

There are three types of UPS systems, each with different features:

  • Standby: Provide battery backup, surge protection and line noise filtering.
  • Line-Interactive: Provide voltage regulation, battery backup, surge protection and line noise filtering.
  • On-Line: Provide the highest level of power protection. Constant on-line operation completely isolates sensitive equipment from every power problem on the AC line.

Communication ports are also a useful feature to have on UPS systems. Most Tripp Lite standby UPS systems and all line-interactive and on-line models are compatible with Tripp Lite’s free PowerAlert software, which can automatically and gracefully shut down computers during a prolonged power outage.

Feature Comparison

UPS Systems
& On-Line
UPS Systems
Surge Protection
Brownout Protection
EMI/RFI Line Noise Filtering
Voltage Regulation
Battery Backup
Typical Connected Equipment Computers and Peripherals, Home Theater Electronics Computers, Laser Printers, Industrial Equipment, Refrigerators, Air Conditioners Desktop Computers and Peripherals Servers/Network Equipment

Need help choosing power protection for your equipment?

Contact a Tripp Lite Power Specialist. Our advice is always fact-based and free.

Which Type of UPS System Works Best with a Generator?

Do you have a generator to supply power during a lengthy blackout? You’ll get the most out of it if you connect your generator to a UPS system. But there’s more than one kind of UPS – it’s important to choose the right type of system so it will play nicely with your generator power. [Read more…]

Connect Your Laptop to the Internet without a Built-in Ethernet Port

Laptop computers are trending toward thinner models that do not include an Ethernet port. If you rely on Wi-Fi day-to-day, you may not notice the change. But in situations where Wi-Fi is weak or unavailable, you can count on a USB 3.0, 3.1 or USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter to get the signal you need.

No ethernet in laptops

The Lighter Laptop

As laptop users run more browser-based applications and store more files in the cloud, they require less local storage space. This, combined with smaller and more efficient processors, means laptops can afford to be thinner and lighter without sacrificing performance.

When laptop manufacturers shrink their products to facilitate more portability, some connectivity features may not “make the cut.” These often include the Ethernet port since it is, quite literally, thicker than the device.

Again, even if you typically use a wireless internet connection, consider some scenarios where an Ethernet connection might be missed:

[Read more…]

Rolling TV Carts for Education

Use Rolling TV Stands to Help Enhance Learning on a Tight Budget


Do more with less. This is the challenge facing virtually every school, particularly when it comes to in-classroom technology.

Not everyone learns the same way, but strong visuals enhance learning for most students. That’s why TVs and interactive white boards are common tools for today’s teachers. However, keeping classrooms equipped with the latest technology might quickly break the budget.

Cut Costs with Shared Resources

With a rolling TV cart for flat-screen TVs, a school can keep technology expenditures in check by sharing displays and interactive white boards among a number of classrooms. When the lesson plan calls for A/V resources, the teacher simply wheels a height-adjustable TV stand in front of students to make learning more engaging and exciting. And by using the built-in adjustments such as height and tilt that are found on many rolling TV stands, the teacher can ensure all students have a clear view of the screen. This isn’t possible with conventional projectors.

[Read more…]