Network/Server Rack Elevation Layout Help


I have a 18u server rack in my basement that I’d like to re-configure to account for new hardware and accessories that I’ve purchased since it was originally set up. I’ve watched Tom’s rack setup videos and have a few questions before I get started.

  1. I have a 1U rack shelf that is currently holding my AT&T DSL modem, pfSense 1100 firewall, Lutron Hub, and a Cisco 8-port switch that I now have rack ears for which will be mounted in the new configuration. Should this be in the top of the rack for easy access since these devices are not going to be mounted/secured?

  2. Should the PDU go in the top or bottom of the rack? If there are outlets on only 1 side of the PDU, should it go in the front or back of the rack?

  3. Should 24-port patch panel go between the shelf/PDU and the switches? What’s the cleanest way to manage cables going from the patch panel to the 2 servers in the rack (multiple network connections per server with 1 x IPMI connection per server as well)? Is it worthwhile to have a patch panel in the front and back of the rack on the same 1U of rack space with ~3 foot patch cables running between the 2 panels and then going out to the devices from the rear patch panel?

  4. I’m also planning on using the same method Jeff Geerling used to cut a piece of wood with a cleat on the bottom of it to create a work surface on the top of the rack, so I’m not sure if that will impact answers to any of the above questions.

Thanks in advance!

It really comes down to how you want to set it up, I like things all in the front patch panels for easy access. I have this video where I show the setup of one of our lab racks.

Airspace at the top of the rack can help with heat. If you put wood on top of the rack, make certain to paint it first. Otherwise you will be shedding wood fibers into your equipment forever. Any cheap latex paint would be better than nothing.