I'm trying to understand the considerations ("why") that go into determining the specifications ("what") for a rackmount server cabinet, in order to determine what sort of rack I should purchase for my home use. Since this is for home use, I won't be following certain best practices (eg. hot/cold aisle, not even air conditioning) and may be willing to sacrifice in various areas in order to reduce cost and footprint - but please advise if there are safety concerns or other considerations to note.

I'm planning to place the rack in a room without air-conditioning, ambient temperature usually around 27C (80.6F). Should I then use the best practices of 10+ years ago, where spacing was left at top and bottom of rack and between servers? What were the best practices - can't seem to google them anymore.

  • What sort of rack doors should I choose in this environment?

For my home use, how much noise it leaks out and how much dust it lets in are pretty important considerations. I do have a pretty dusty home. Fully perforated doors might be better for cooling in data centres, but I don't have hot/cold aisles, filler plates etc. If I select a glass front door, vented rear door and roof cooling fans, how does it affect the way I populate the cabinet?

  • How much space do I need to leave between the rear of servers and the rack rear door?

Conventional wisdom says servers of depth X need racks with depth X + 15-20cm (6-8"). If I don't use cable management arms or zero-U PDUs, can I use a rack with depth X + 5-10cm (2-4")?

  • How much space do I need to leave between the rear door and the wall?

I was planning to back the rack into a wall, and wheel it out a bit if I need access to the rear. So I want to know how closely I can back it into the wall when using a perforated rear door vs a vented rear door.

  • In a non controlled environment, as you are describing, I am not sure best practices would apply. Best practices are assuming you can control ambient temperature, a supply of cool air, ventilation, etc. You could follow "best practices" and still have issues. I would get a vented rack for the best airflow and fire up the servers one at a time and check their temperatures over some time and load. – Keltari Nov 19 '13 at 6:02

It might be better to have a room dedicated for this, like a linen press or storage cupboard. It could be shelved and airconditioned. Smaller racks ("road case" size) could then be accomodated. Your heat, noise, contaminants are sorted. I would certainly have one built into my next "built" home. If I could only find a plumber for my chilled water supply...

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