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Top 5 Considerations For Selecting an Enclosure in a Seismically Active Area

January 13, 2015

Top 5 Considerations for Selecting Seismic EnclosurePlanning a data center in a seismically active area requires careful consideration on many levels.  

To reduce risk and injury and minimize equipment damage during an earthquake, proper seismic protection is essential. This is especially important in telecommunications/equipment rooms and data centers that cannot afford to be offline or are not backed up at a secondary location.

There are many factors to consider when selecting a seismic enclosure. Here are five:

1. Is the enclosure seismic-rated? 

The enclosure you choose should be designed, certified and tested for use in seismic areas. If the enclosure was put under a physical test, such as the one required by NEBS or the ICC-EC AC 156 – another recognized testing standard procedure – the manufacturer should be able to provide the lab test report, calculations and even a video of the shaker table testing. Because shaker table testing provides a defined result of “pass” or “fail” without affecting performance and operability, it is easy to compare products that go through the same type of certification to find the best fit for your requirements.

2. What is the seismic load rating? 

When choosing an enclosure, one with a high seismic load capacity will provide the most benefits. A seismic load capacity indicates how much weight a cabinet or rack can hold and protect equipment during a seismic event. The higher the seismic load, the more equipment and weight it can support. Note the difference: Seismic load indicates a load that has been tested for dynamic movement in a simulated seismic event, whereas static load is qualified by a standard load test (not a shaker table test) without motion.  

Request a copy of CPI's NEBs Report

3. Is the enclosure big enough for my equipment?


Most manufacturers limit the size of their seismic cabinets in order to have a smaller, sturdier product that will pass seismic tests. This limits the depth of equipment that can be installed. However, most equipment can be more than 30 inches deep (762 mm). Current TIA-569-C standards provide size and clearance requirements for equipment and cabling cabinets to address equipment sizes, cable management and power distribution unit (PDU) installation. To ensure these standards are met, cabinets 42” deep or larger are recommended. Additionally, ensure the cabinet's frame leaves adequate room for cable management and power distribution.  

4. What about airflow?

You should not have to sacrifice proper airflow over seismic stability. Servers still need to remain cool to function properly, even within seismic areas. Also, thermal management strategies and legislation enacted to reduce energy consumption do not provide exemptions to these products if installed in seismic areas. At a minimum, the enclosure’s seismic bracing should not block the flow of cool air into your servers. At best, select an enclosure with airflow accessories to prevent hot air recirculation.

5. How difficult is it to install?

Enclosures in general are heavy and difficult to move on a job site. Seismic cabinets can be almost two times the weight of a non-seismic cabinet. Additionally, seismic cabinets attach directly to the floor. Casters can help move the cabinet, but the weight of the cabinet makes removing the casters difficult. The ideal solution is a cabinet that includes transport casters and recessed leveler feet to raise the cabinet so that the transport casters can be removed. Be sure to anchor the cabinet to the floor using the specific methods and approved seismic anchors as directed in the construction drawings and the supervising registered structural engineer. 

Chatsworth Products' engineers have considered and designed a cabinet to effectively protect your equipment in the event of an earthquake. The Z4-Series SeismicFrame Cabinet incorporates the features above and more.

Kim Ream, Project Marketing Manager

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