Cool Your Equipment Racks: Secrets Your Audio Visual Integrator May Not Tell You
published onSeptember 13, 2012

Middle Atlantic Cabinet Cooler

If you’ve hired an audio visual integrator to install your new audio video systems, you can bet we’re going to log some hours making sure your valuable AV equipment is safe and, well, sound. (We couldn’t resist the pun!) And that also means keeping it cool in the right environment.

Ventilation and airflow surrounding audio visual equipment racks are the most important factors in keeping valuable AV gear cool. There are two principles to understand in order to achieve proper rack ventilation and airflow:

  1. The equipment closet must have the proper HVAC systems (or, more specifically, ventilation and cooling systems) in place
  2. There cannot be any restriction in the airflow in, out, or around the rack.

In order to prevent hot air from circulating back through the equipment, your AV integrator will use rack enclosures. These enclosures are best suited for front-to-back equipment rack cooling. Because there is a slight pressurization contained in the exhaust air, the suction it is combined with leads it to flow back toward the intake. The rack enclosures prevent this from happening.

Open-Frame Equipment Racks Enable Cooling

Be aware that the hot air does not naturally flow away from the equipment rack. This is a myth based on the science behind the suggestion that hot air rises and cold air falls. The construction of the front-to-back air flow, coupled with the rack and its equipment, causes hot air to continue circulating rather than rising. This can cause the rack to overheat.

When using open-frame racks, keep in mind there are consequences involved when they are placed side-by-side with others. That’s another audio visual specialist trade secret: How to set up the system to avoid situations like aligning the air exhausts with the equipment directly next to it in the rack.

Overheating Equipment Racks: More Common Than You Think

Because it is nearly impossible to predict patterns of airflow, equipment racks set up by do-it-yourselfers or general contractors often fall prey to overheating. Audio visual specialists have the right tools, and years of experience, to set up equipment racks in the right enclosures, and at the right locations, to maximize cooling.

Image: Courtesy of Middle Atlantic