Computer Room Grommets & Cables Guide
Computer rooms are vital to many of today’s workplaces, housing critical equipment and infrastructure. An essential aspect of modern computer room design is cable management, which involves organizing and protecting the cables connecting various equipment pieces. Optimal cable management keeps cables hidden and out of the way to protect the equipment they support and the employees around them.
A widely used method of managing computer cables is with grommets. Grommets, typically made of plastic or metal, are covers that seal openings in floors or ceilings. Brush grommets are popular as they are designed to create an airtight seal around cables. These bristles serve as an effective barrier to prevent dust and debris from getting into the equipment and eliminate air leakage. See aisle containment for details on air leakage.
The Importance of Proper Cable Management in Computer Rooms
Proper cable management is essential to any business with a computer room. From small server rooms to large data centers, cables are critical in connecting everything from servers and network devices to power cords and pdu cables.
Cable management in computer rooms is vital for these reasons:
To minimize downtime. A tangled mess of cables makes it difficult to identify and resolve issues that arise. Properly organizing cables can help employees to locate and fix problematic cords or connections or troubleshoot a faulty switch. Allowing for faster issue resolution minimizes the amount of downtime.
To improve airflow. By organizing cables using grommets, air can be properly contained and routed away from sensitive devices. Improperly-organized cables can interfere with airflow, potentially leading to overheating and equipment failure.
To increase safety. Exposed, tangled cables can create tripping hazards and increase the risk of accidentally unplugging computer room equipment. Organizing cables removes the risk of a very likely but preventable accident waiting to happen.
To meet compliance requirements. Many organizations may be required to adhere to proper cable management in their computer rooms. These include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Failing to comply with these regulations can incur hefty fines.
Types of Cables Used in Computer Rooms
Computer rooms use a variety of different cables to connect equipment. Depending on the needs of the business, some or all of these types of cables may be used.
- Ethernet cables: Also referred to as network cables, ethernet cables connect devices to a network. Types include Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat7, which vary by speed and bandwidth.
- Fiber optic cables: Also known as optic cables or optical fiber cables, these cables can transmit data at higher speeds and in larger bandwidths than standard Ethernet cables.
- Power cables: All devices need power to work. Computer rooms use power cables to supply electricity to everything, from servers to computers. Rack power distribution units offer additional power supplies and monitoring.
- USB cables: These commonly-used cables connect devices to computers and other hardware. Even though they are ‘universal,’ there is often confusion around which type of USB cable is needed since there are at least six types depending on the port.
Types of Grommets Used in Computer Rooms
As mentioned, grommets are widely used in computer rooms and data centers to seal openings where cables pass through. Grommets come in several varieties, as using one type of grommet over another may make more sense depending on available options.
These are the most common types of grommets used in computer rooms:
- Brush grommets: These grommets use flexible, overlapping brushes and bristles to form a barrier to dust and debris. The brushes make passing one or many cables easy and are typically used in raised access floors and suspended ceilings. Floor grommets are a common type of brush grommet used in data centers and other critical spaces.
- Rubber grommets: Made from durable rubber, these grommets are ideal for fitting a specific number of cables through. Rubber grommets are typically used below equipment where cables pass through a hole beneath the floor.
- Airflow grommets: Specifically designed to improve a room’s airflow, grommets properly seal the opening around the cables. Since they are perforated, these grommets allow air to flow around the cable, reducing the risk of temperature spikes.
- Cable grommets: These grommets are used for organizing cables and keeping them from getting tangled or becoming a tripping hazard. Cable grommets generally have multiple openings to fit several cables at once and are typically used to pass cables through a desk surface or a wall.
- Brush strip grommets: Brush strip grommets are similar to brush grommets but include a ‘strip’ design that can be cut to fit any opening. These grommets are often used in floor or ceiling scenarios where openings include non-standard shapes and sizes.
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