There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to choosing data center cabinet, enclosure and rack colors. The standard is obviously black, and has been for years – likely due to cost and production reasons. The most common color alternatives are gray and white.

graphic depicting dark and light data center cabinets

In this blog, we outline a few of the potential issues that dark cabinet and rack colors can cause, and why a lighter color inside and out – such as white or gray – might be an option worth considering the next time you need to purchase this equipment.

1. Poor Visibility

The most obvious problem noticed with dark cabinet and rack colors is reduced visibility and visual clarity for people working in the space. White colors reflect 80% of light, while black colors reflect only 5%. The more reflective a color is, the less artificial light that may be needed in the space.

When working among black cabinets, technicians may need to use flashlights or headlamps to clearly see what they’re working on (sometimes extra lighting fixtures are even installed inside cabinets or racks); most of the light emitted from the fixtures overhead is being absorbed by the dark color instead of reflected.

2. Increased Potential for Human Error

When the data center environment is dark, this makes labels and color codes harder to see – which means that downtime or equipment damage caused by accidents or human error may increase. If supplemental lighting isn’t used in these situations, as mentioned above, then mistakes are more likely to be made.

Fewer errors will occur in data center environments where labels are easy to see and don’t require extra illumination to be brought in.

Download our Smart Cabinet Access System for Data Centers White paper3. Dirt Can Hide

While we’re talking about cabinet and rack color, let’s talk about cleaning. Dirt and dust build-up from things like lint, paper and cardboard can harm server, network and data storage equipment. You assume a higher risk for unplanned downtime if this dirt and dust build-up ultimately interferes with data center performance.

On dark cabinets and racks, dust build-up can be hard to see – especially if the data center’s overhead lighting has been dimmed to save energy. Lighter cabinet and rack colors make dust build-up more visible so you can see when the equipment needs to be cleaned.

4. Higher Operating Costs

Studies have shown that white cabinets can reduce lighting energy consumption by up to 30%. For the sake of example, let’s say that your data center is approximately 6,000 square feet in size, and uses approximately 515 kW of energy. According to Data Center Knowledge, between 3% and 5% of data center electrical load goes toward lighting. In this case, let’s assume that lighting makes up 4% of total energy usage (20.6 kW).

Reducing your lighting energy consumption by 30% in this scenario would reduce total data center electrical load by 6.8 kW – just by changing cabinet and rack colors.

Belden offers several data center infrastructure components in central office white – a lighter color that isn’t as stark as white – to help data center managers improve productivity and reduce operating costs. Products available in this light color include X Series Servers, networking and switch enclosures, passive and adaptive enclosure heat containment (AEHC) systems and blanking panels.

Learn more about the Belden data center solutions that reduce costs, improve downtime, maximize space, save time and provide a competitive edge.

Have you moved to a lighter color in your data center?
Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!