Written by Ryan Hagberg on July 21, 2016

Welcome to part two of AV Rack Systems 101. In this series of posts we sit down with SANUS Product Manager, Rob Zurn. As an experienced professional AV installer with more than 19 years of experience in the field, Rob has installed countless systems and has seen just about everything when it comes to good and bad rack installations.  In part one, we discussed why rack systems are necessary. In part two, we talk about choosing the right type of rack system for your project.

Q: How do I choose the right rack for the right situation? I don't know the difference between all these choices: enclosed or open frame, single bay or ganged, knockdown or welded frame, wall mount or free standing, single height or variably stacked, rolling or stationary rack. Why would I get one or the other for a particular project?

Rob: There are so many options! The key is choosing the right type of AV rack solution for your unique situation. At SANUS, we decided, you know what, let's do away with all the confusion and make it really easy for our customers. We can handle all of these different variables with two lines of product. We offer the CFR2100 Series with an enclosed frame and the open-frame CFR1600 Series. Let's break down each type to help clarify the differences.

Q: Enclosed or open frame racks?

Rob: Functionally, they do the same thing by safely housing rack-mount and non-rack-mount AV gear securely in one space. They allow for access to individual components from at least the front and rear, provide cable management, and allow for passive or active cooling solutions. An enclosed rack features removable and reversible doors with locks, and removable (sometimes they are solid welded) side panels with optional locks. An enclosed rack provides a clean, finished, and secure location for all AV gear. With a fully welded frame, it can hold more weight and provides space for small parts panel kits, and thermostat-controlled intake and exhaust fans. The front glass door keeps components protected from "unauthorized hands" yet still allows you to see inside for quick status updates. The doors also give the system a nice clean look. The SANUS CFR2100 Series enclosed racks feature a welded frame and allow for adjustable-depth threaded front and rear rail. An open-frame rack is typically more economical, giving you about the same size rack as an enclosed-frame model for less investment. With an open-frame, you get a sturdy rack frame, which are also the rack rails, with open access to all components. But there is no security or realistic options for thermal management; the room where the rack is installed will have to satisfy those needs. Visually, an open frame is less attractive when loaded, but if it is located in a lesser-used mechanical room or some other secure space with adequate cooling, it will serve you well at a lower cost.

Q: What if I have a lot more gear than one rack can handle, or a height constraint?

Rob: If you can't go up, go wide. SANUS CFR2100 Series enclosed racks have a solution for removing the inner side panels and using the slots with an optional accessory kit that locks two or more racks side by side. This can be done with any of the enclosed model SANUS racks as long as the racks are the same height. This preserves all the security, aesthetic and thermal management capabilities of a single rack but allows you to expand capacity for larger or space-constrained systems. All the SANUS CFR2100 series racks can expand side by side, for larger system configurations. Also, the SANUS CFR1600 Series open-frame racks can expand "up" but I'll get to that later.

Q: Tell us more about the SANUS CFR1600 Series racks. You mentioned they are very economical?

Rob: The SANUS CFR1600 Series are unassembled flat pack racks. You can UPS ship a 40U rack by stacking two CFR1620's. Included are 4 Shelves, 4 blanking panels, extra screws, leveling feet/sliders and wall mount hardware.

Q: Can any of the rack options you mentioned be mounted on the wall?

Rob: The CFR1600 Series racks include wall mount hardware to allow for essentially a zero footprint rack. If space is at a premium, or there is a desire to keep equipment out of casual access, putting the rack on the wall can solve those challenges. While the included hardware will facilitate a static wall mount for the rack, there is an optional swing kit accessory that works with any height CFR1600 rack. Hinging the rack to swing in either redirection provides easy access to the back of components. If you only have a need for a little 15-20U rack, you could place it on the floor.  However, everything is down low and it's a pain to work on or service. If you have it wall mounted at a more accessible height, it's easier to get at and handle the components.

Q: You said something about expanding "up". What do you mean by that?

Rob: SANUS CFR1600 Series racks are designed to be modular. With only two models, a 15U rack and 20U rack, we can stack them to create three other heights: 30U, 35U and 40U. You don't lose any U space, weight capacity (600 lbs. on the floor) or even wall mount capability's by stacking; it's just a taller version of the same rack. Both rack series can be used with rolling casters for more mobility or just simple access to the back and sides by swiveling around on the floor. They also support a more permanent solution with adjustable feet. Versatile, configurable, stackable, the CFR1600 Series racks and accessories can grow and adapt to your needs, and they can be shipped and assembled on site without trucks and pallets and straps and non-UPS shippable containers. The CFR2100 Series racks aesthetically house all your AV gear within welded frames, doors and side panels. This is a fantastic option for a heavy duty, once-and-done rack that can be ganged and secured.

In part three of AV Rack Systems 101, we ask Rob how systems designers can simplify their rack process.

Topics: AV Racks