How To Properly Ground Your Server Rack


If you’re setting up a server rack, one of the most important things to consider is proper server rack grounding. For optimal performance, knowing how to ground your server rack is essential to ensure the safety and reliability of your IT equipment. Without it, you risk electrical shock, equipment damage, and more. 

Understanding The Importance of Server Rack Grounding

Proper grounding is essential for any electrical system, including server racks. Grounding provides a safe path for electrical current to flow in the event of a fault or surge, protecting both equipment and personnel from electrical shock. It also helps to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), which can cause performance issues and data loss. 

Do You Need To Ground Your Server Rack? 

A server rack grounding system can play a critical role in your data center’s success and availability. Because data centers are power-dense, power surges are common. In order for data centers to meet uptime expectations, data center managers need to focus on the facility’s infrastructure, especially the network grounding system.

The decision to ground your servers racks or not depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations for your IT equipment and the uptime requirements of your data center. In most cases, bonding your server racks and cabinets to a proper grounding system is beneficial for reducing the risk of equipment damage and downtime due to electrical surges.

What are the Server Rack Grounding Requirements?  

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) developed the ANSI/TIA-942 Standard for standardizing data center infrastructure and ensuring high levels of availability. The ANSI/TIA-942 Standard covers the telecommunications infrastructure along with all other aspects of a mission-critical data center, such as the site location, physical structure of the building, electrical/mechanical infrastructure, fire safety and physical security. 

Additionally, data centers will receive an ANSI/TIA-942 certification based on four rating levels. Here are the following ANSI/TIA-942 Rating Levels. 

Rated 1: Basic Site Infrastructure

Level 1 is a data center which has single capacity components and a single, non-redundant distribution path serving the computer equipment. It has limited protection against physical events.

Rated 2: Redundant Capacity Component Site Infrastructure

Level 2 is a data center which has redundant capacity components and a single, non-redundant distribution path serving the computer equipment. It has improved protection against physical events.

Rated 3: Concurrently Maintainable Site Infrastructure

Level 3 is a data center which has redundant capacity components and multiple independent distribution paths serving the computer equipment. Typically, only one distribution path serves the computer equipment at any time. The site is concurrently maintainable which means that every capacity component, including elements which are part of the distribution path, can be removed/replaced/serviced on a planned basis without disrupting the ICT capabilities to the end user. It has protection against most physical events.

Rated 4: Fault Tolerant Site Infrastructure

Level 4 is a data center which has redundant capacity components and multiple independent distribution paths serving the computer equipment which all are active. The data center allows concurrent maintainability and one fault anywhere in the installation without causing downtime. It has protection against almost all physical events.

The lowest rating, Level 1, does not require a data center grounding infrastructure. Even though grounding is not required, it may be helpful to meet the requirements of equipment manufacturers. On the other hand, Level 4 would require grounding since this rating is designed for data centers used by financial institutions, healthcare organizations, Internet hosting groups, and others requiring maximum availability. 

How To Ground a Server Rack

To ground a server rack, you can find contractors who will provide a network grounding system. When properly grounded, the system will balance electrical potentials for a low resistance avenue to ground. Once your grounding system is properly installed, you should be able to see the components from data center racks to grounding cables. For your reference, the ANSI/TIA-942 standard provides specifications in its section on grounding. If properly followed, you’ll find that these guidelines allow you to create optimal network availability and prevent premature equipment failure.

Furthermore, grounding and bonding requires careful planning and implementation to be successful. All metal components should be properly bonded to the grounding system, and grounding should be installed before any other cabling. A properly installed grounding system will also send harmful currents away from your data center equipment. It will bond metallic components to the system so that conductive materials at the same electrical potential, which will decrease the current flow.

If there is a difference between the components, the current could reach your equipment and can cause damage to your equipment such as servers, switches, power strips and more. To avoid performance issues and equipment damage from leakage currents, grounding and bonding techniques need to be properly applied. 

Essentially, this means you should also utilize proper cable management techniques and bond all data center racks, cabinets, enclosures, cable trays and equipment to the system.

What is the Grounding Point on a Server Rack? 

The grounding point on a server rack is typically a metal stud or terminal located on the rack’s frame or chassis. It serves as a common reference point for grounding various components within the rack. Components can be servers, switches, power supplies, and other devices. By connecting these components to the grounding point, any excess electrical charge or potential difference is safely directed into the ground. This helps to minimize the risk of electrical hazards.

The grounding point is typically connected to a grounding system. This grounding system provides a path of least resistance for electrical currents to dissipate safely into the ground. Overall, it’s important to follow proper grounding practices when setting up a server rack. This will ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, as well as complying with electrical codes and regulations.

Server Cabinet Enclosure
Server Cabinet Enclosure

RackSolutions Server Racks and Cabinets

Whether you need a single server rack or multiple for your data center, RackSolutions provides a variety of server racks, cabinets, and rack accessories that are ready to order. If you have any questions about our server racks and cabinets, feel free to contact us for more information. With our high-quality, in house manufacturing, you can be confident that you are buying the best server rack possible!


FAQs: Server Rack Grounding

What are the types of ANSI/TIA-942 Certifications? 

There are three types of ANSI/TIA-942 Certifications: Design, Facilities, and Ready. First, Design type indicates that the design documents under scope have been reviewed for conformity to the design criteria of ANSI/TIA-942 for the respective rating level. Second, Facilities type indicates that the facility and related design documents have been physically onsite inspected for conformity to ANSI/TIA-942 for the respective rating level. And lastly, Ready type indicates that a modular data center has been designed in accordance with ANSI/TIA-942 for the respective rating level. 

How To Properly Ground Your Server Rack
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How To Properly Ground Your Server Rack
Don't overlook the importance of grounding your server rack. Proper grounding of your server rack is essential to ensure the safety and reliability of your equipment. Follow these tips and tricks to get it done right.
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