Why Are White Rack Cabinets Suddenly Popular?

When data center and IT managers look for energy savings, lighting is not usually on the top of their list. Lighting accounts for only 3-5% of total electrical load in a data center, so it doesn’t get the same attention as server power consumption or cooling costs. Nevertheless, IT managers are seeing measurable improvements in lighting efficiency from mature, inexpensive technologies such as motion sensors, dimmable lighting and LEDs.

A number of manufacturers (including Tripp Lite) recently introduced wall mount cabinets and floor-standing rack enclosures in white. You might be wondering… data center lighting, cabinet color: what’s the connection? Data center designers are specifying white rack cabinets for two main reasons:

SR42UW-FRONT-LVisibility.  Most data center equipment is black… black servers, black switches, black PDUs, and black cabinets. While this gives rows and racks a nice, uniform appearance, it can make it more difficult for technicians to work when the server room is using subdued lighting to save energy. White cabinets reflect more light, making equipment inside a cabinet easier to see.

Temperature.  If you studied physics in high school you’ll remember that when light is absorbed by a material, the energy is usually converted to heat. Dark colors are better absorbers of light and therefore better radiators of heat. Conversely, white cabinets reflect light which means less energy is required to light the equipment inside. And, because they reflect light better than black cabinets, they return less of the energy in light in the form of heat.

The final reason for choosing a white cabinet has nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with aesthetics. White cabinets blend better with their surroundings. A white wall mounted cabinet installed high up in a corner of a classroom to house networking equipment will be much less intrusive than a similar-sized black cabinet.