Help with AV closet rack through wall design - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been loving the wall-opening-rack-in-a-closet design many of you have posted pictures of.

I'm hoping I can get some help with my own.

Below is an image of the soon to be AV/data closet 35" wide by 45" deep.

On the left is the 19" opening to provide access to the components.

on the right is the closet door to get to the back of the rack.

Here's what I envision to be in that closet. Some items must be on the rack, while others could be either on the rack or wall mounted (I would appreciate advice on this too).

Cable box (or 2)
AVR
xbox
wii
DVD
Sonos connect (3 units)
Roku
UPS
Fans

Also, about 40 cat6 lines, 12 RG6 runs, and various speaker wires will be terminated in the room (again not sure if rack or wall mounted -- or even what to use for the wall mounting given the limited space).

And, we'll have a 16 port switch, WIFI access point, HDMI to cat6 converter, WIFI to IR device, etc.

Lastly (for now), I need the wall opening to not be floor to ceiling -- 2 to 3' would be nice.

So....

Should I get a floor standing rack and just expose the middle 3' through the wall opening?

How would I make any rack so that the equipment is flush with the visible side of the wall?

Should I get a 26" deep rack which would leave 19" of wall to hang patch panels? Is this cutting it too close?

As you can see, I'm a novice at this.

Thanks very much,

Joseph
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 03:07 AM
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You cannot use a floor-standing rack and create a window while still getting a flush look. For this to work you have two options: A smaller height rack or simple rack rails mounted into a precise opening. I always prefer the real rack for better aesthetics than just the rack rails, plus better cable management. To mount the rack I would build a platform with a plywood top and use some steel angle braces (like corbels) mounted to the studs underneath to support the thing. You can get the flush look you want by simply moving the rack back and forth on this plywood shelf before securing. I see no reason why 100% of your equipment couldn't go in the rack - either facing in the room or neatly zip-tied to some of the rack's interior structure.

Given your equipment list above, I estimate you would be at 28u of rack space and this doesn't include and blanks or vents. To give you room to grow you probably want to be looking at 35 or 40 u rack units. Based on your system above, either the 20" depth of 26" depth rack will work. The only time you get into trouble with a 20" rack depth is if either your UPS or Amplifier is deep. Other than that, most equipment handily fits in 20" depth racks.

Not mentioned above, but you will also need to ventilate the entire closet. For ventilation, I would simply use strategically placed vents in the front of the rack and have a thermostatically controlled rack fan draw from the conditioned space in the room and exhaust directly out of the closet. This will be your simplest method for keeping everything cool. You could add a secondary fan for the closet itself, but this complicates matters.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the clear and thorough explanation and advice!

I understand about using a less than full height rack and seating/securing it on a plywood base, adjusted flush to the outside face of the wall.

I'm glad to hear that 20" will suffice.

I understand that mounting the cat6 and RG6 on panels on the rack would make for neater wire management, but will it be easier to manipulate the equipment with less likelihood to disturb the wiring if I put a separate, wall mounted short rack for (let's say) the cat6 and RG6 panels and maybe the switch?

I also would like to keep the wall opening somewhat small -- 40 RU is 70". While I'd like to have that much rack space, I think the wife would prefer something around 36" (max 48")

What I envisioned (don't know if possible) is a larger rack (79") but only 36 or 48" hole for the equipment that needs to be seen/touched. Possible to do, and still have flush with face of outside wall?

Thanks so much for the ventilation suggestions. I was thinking about putting in a bathroom type in-wall exhaust fan above the louvered doors (one of those super quiet fans) that stayed on 24/7.

I'll certainly use a rack fan also.

Are the vents in the front for pulling in cool air or getting rid of hot air?

Any suggestions who which frame (and how to set up the shelving/rails?

Thanks again,

Joseph
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 08:24 AM
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Some pics of my setup which sound similar to what you are looking for.

From the front. Mine will be slightly recessed behind the wall frames (which are not up yet).





And from the back side. Plywood shelf supported be gussets made out of 2x6 material.





I believe my rack is 41U now after I had to make a minor modification due to a measuring error for the opening. rolleyes.gif It is a Rackman rack and shelves. No real complaints. Hope the pics help.


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post #5 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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That's a great design and great pics -- I like the support for the base and depth of the supports as the rack passes through the wall.

Do you know what equipment you will be putting on it?

Will some be facing forward and some back?

I have a narrow closet (35") and I'm wondering if it might make more sense to move the rack flush with one side to allow wall mounted stuff on the opposite wall (rack in red):

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post #6 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 11:12 AM
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I don't have a great full view of the front of the rack right now with all the equipment in it but here are a couple for reference.

This is a shot of the lower portion. From the bottom (4U drawer, EP4000 sub amp, Behringer Feedback Destroyer, and Denon 3312ci)



This shows the top half of the rack. PS3 above Denon then large gap until the top shelf which holds small items such as my ethernet switch.



This is a shot from the back side. I have an ethernet patch panel on the top back section of the rack which isn't shown in this picture. One of these days I'll make it look nice and pretty. rolleyes.gif



I plan to add a couple of amps in the future and probably another receiver for a different area in the basement and I think this rack will more than accommodate all the equipment that I will need. I have two PCs in my equipment room as well which sit on the floor on either side of the rack support. My room isn't much wider at about 4'. I think offsetting it to one side in your space might free up a little more real estate for you.


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post #7 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 11:41 AM
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Depending on how involved you want to get you could build your own. I looked at racks and decided I wanted more of a cabinet / furniture look to mine so I built my own. Racks seemed spendy too for what you got, but I didn't look too hard at them. It has a removable back that I get to from a storage room, pictures are with the back removed. The last picture is of the back piece.











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post #8 of 11 Old 05-10-2013, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice rack pictures -- well done.

Beautiful custom cabinet -- that's a pleasure to look at by everyone (while a rack is enjoyed by only a special group of people like me (;-).

I'm sort of stuck with the opening size. I figure I'll have about 28 RU of equipment that needs to be accessible, and about the same amount of equipment that doesn't need to be seen or touched. I'd rather not have a whole that large.

So maybe I'm back to double standard shelving brackets (finerack) or even a closetmaid track system with standard brackets and wire shelves (for ventilation). That way, I can have my 28 RU opening and continue to have shelves above and below it accessible from the rear.

What am I missing as a downside to this?

Thanks
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-13-2013, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd appreciate getting some feedback on another idea:

What I put a full size rack (maybe 44 RU) flush against the inside of the closet and made the opening only 24 RU high?

I'd use shelves for components and the shelves should be 4 or 6" set back from the face of the entertainment room wall. Could I have the components extend over the front of the shelf?

Or could rack shelves be mounted so they extend past the face of the rack?

This way, I would get the benefit of a full size rack and use the back side of the rack for patch panels and components that I don't need access to from the entertainment room.

Would this work well?

Thanks
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-13-2013, 05:47 AM
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The big determining factor is the look you want for your equipment as both will function fine. After all, we're just talking about shelving here. smile.gif

I personally like the more polished and professional look of the Middle Atlantic racks, but that's just my personal preference. Given the limited amount of wires and equipment you have, there is no reason why it couldn't all fit inside a single rack.

If you go to Middle Atlantic's site, the racks come in 27u and 35u, so you would have to make a choice on height. I would go with the 35u because when I did your estimate I made assumptions that you would have a second cable box at some point and add vent panels and perhaps one of their drawers for remotes, game controllers, etc. I did NOT count any of the switches, patch panels, etc. which would be in the back of the rack, fyi, only the equipment itself. I know you don't want to have a big hole, but the height of the equipment IS the height of the equipment. If you don't want as big of a hole, then get rid of your equipment or don't display it all. An option would be to have something like the cable box completely out of site since no media goes into it, for example. A rack made from a shelving system with wood takes up MORE space since you are now dealing with the thickness of 3/4" wood shelves as well. The equipment also does not breathe nearly as well from a shelf system vs. an open rack which preserves much more free space and ventilation around the equipment. Plus, with a wood rack you now have to ventilate the entire equipment room vs. capturing the heat from the equipment rack and shipping it directly outside the equipment closet.

Final recommendation is to get the 35u and deal with the size of the hole it creates. You have insufficient room to gang two 20u racks together, for example, so this is the nature of your system. Get a rack with the rear door and the variable CFM ventilation fan kit so fresh conditioned air is drawn through the face of the equipment and vent panels into the rack and then is pumped outside the closet through ducting. It gets the looks you want (albeit a slightly bigger rack size), it functions perfectly, and has enough room for both today and the future.

EDIT - And yes, flush the rack to one side to make the most of your usable space in the equipment closet.
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post #11 of 11 Old 06-04-2013, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone so much for the analysis and advice.

I'm 99% sure I'll go with a Slim 5 35U, flush to one side.

I am still concerned about mounting the patch panels on the rack, but it sounds like the consensus here is that I shouldn't be.

I'll likely have quite a few RU empty (black plates).
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