The complete guide to buying server rack shelves


Tons of different types of equipment find their way into server racks, and there are many ways that you can mount them. If you’re going to use server rack shelves, you’ll want to find the most economical options for your needs. 

In order to make the best purchasing decisions, you’ll need to know things like when a sliding shelf might be a better option than a fixed shelf, or when you can get away with mounting a 2 post shelf inside of a 4 post rack. 

When to use 2 post shelves in 4 post racks

2 post conversion kit
People purchase server rack shelves for essentially all of their non-server equipment. That means that they need to support a wide range of dimensions and weight of equipment. 

Even though it might seem intuitive to buy a 4 post shelf because you have a 4 post rack, most 4 post racks will be able to accept most 2 post shelves. Buying the right amount of 2 post shelves for your 4 post rack can help reduce load on your rack, increase equipment’s exposure to air, save money and use less resources. 

The first thing you will want to check is whether or not your rack has two mounting points on each upright. 4 post rack mounting equipment usually only has a single point of attachment per post, while 2 post racks more often have two points of attachment. 

If your rack has two points of attachment, then most 2 post shelves will be compatible. If there is only one point of attachment, then your options will be limited. 

For instance, RackSolutions’ 2 Post Rack Sliding Half Shelf would easily fit on any 2 post or 4 post rack because it has one connection per upright. On the other hand mounting RackSolutions’ Fixed Rack Shelf on a 2 post shelf would require two points of connection as a result of it being able to carry more weight. 

Best shelves for each type of equipment 

modular shelf for test devices
So, you know which shelves will work with your rack, but what shelves are best for your equipment? 

Common rackmount equipment:

Of course, there are varying sizes within each of these categories of equipment. Some may even be able to be rack-mounted with their included ears. 

How to choose between a sliding and fixed shelf 

sliding vs fixed shelves
When deciding whether to use a sliding or fixed shelf, here are some questions you should ask yourself: 

  • How often will I need to access cables in the back of the shelf? 
  • How often will I need to remove equipment or perform maintenance? 
  • Will a sliding feature allow me to more easily access the equipment?
  • How important is ease of use to me? 
  • What is my weight capacity? 

There’s not much getting around it, sliding shelves are always going to be the nicer product. So most of the decision revolves around your budget and how much being able to easily access equipment can improve your workflow. 

The only exception to this is if you need a high weight capacity. The weight capacity ceiling will generally be higher on a fixed shelf and lower on a sliding shelf. If the weight capacities are even, the sliding shelf will likely be more expensive if built with the same quality. 

When can rails be alternatives for rack shelves? 

universal rails 1U
If equipment doesn’t have a proprietary mounting solution and it will be left in one place for a while, it’s natural to assume that shelving it might be the best solution. This is usually true, but sometimes there’s a more cost effective way to go about it. 

Universal Rack Rails are essentially shelves with L shaped hinges that support equipment from both sides rather than having a platform to lay things on top of. This means that they use less material, and they’re still simple to slide equipment off. 

You will be able to install these rails no matter what width of your rack is since the two brackets do not need to connect. Additionally, Reducer Brackets can be utilized to mount smaller equipment like patch panels or switches. 

Need unconventional rack shelves?

If you are certain that what you need is nowhere on the market, feel free to contact us. We have designed custom products for some of the top names in the tech industry. 

With in-house engineers, manufacturing and fulfillment, we are able to send prototypes out within days.