Time to Get Organized with Cable Management
We’ve all seen the equipment rack or IT closet that lacks cable management. Confusion reigns, as masses of wires run in all directions and every patch bay looks like a rat’s nest. You feel sorry for whoever must go in and install or re-route cables or troubleshoot wiring problems.
The good news is that wire routing is a universal challenge, so there are products to tame the cable confusion. In fact, there are hundreds of cable management items to choose from, so let’s simplify things. Most of them can be divided into three groups: rack and cabinet attachments, cable routers along walls and ceilings, and ties and straps for bundling.
Rack and Cabinet Attachments
A well-organized equipment rack or cabinet usually has a few attachments for ordered cable routing. We touch on a few of the most popular devices here.
A cable manager is a housing that mounts either inside or just outside of a rack to hold and direct cables. A horizontal manager mounts inside, taking up one or two RUs (rack units). Some have built-in D-rings (distribution rings) to secure cables. For more permanent installations, another type of horizontal manager uses cable trays with finger ducts to direct cables. A particularly innovative tray for taming patch cables on the front of a rack is the two-RU Neat-Patch Cable Management Bay.
Vertical managers are designed for cables that need to run the length of a rack or cabinet. The openings are fairly large, and each opening is able to accommodate a sizeable number of Ethernet cables. One type of vertical manager is called a cable duct. It routes, organizes and protects cables running through an open-frame rack. Each cable duct has a slotted back that can be easily slid aside to add, remove or reorganize cables.
There are many other handy devices that can be mounted to a rack to direct cables. A cable spool allows you to wind up large amounts of excess cable to keep it off the floor. D-rings are simple but effective at directing cables away from the front of a rack. Lacer bars extend from the front or rear of a rack and provide stress relief for cable connections.
Cable Routers along Walls and Ceilings
This category encompasses the dozens, maybe hundreds, of devices that guide cables along walls and ceilings – the no-man’s land between electrical components. They include rings, harnesses, clamps, supports, clips, fasteners and spools.
To guide cables along a wall, it doesn’t get much simpler than a U-shaped nail-in drive ring, a G-hook looped cable harness or a J-hook cable support. Such devices provide solid support but make it easy to add or subtract from the bundle. To direct a cable through a wall, a durable plastic bushing seals the wall opening, protects the cable and is even resists rodents.
To route cables along a ceiling, there are a variety of robust clamps that are used to hang bridle rings and different hangers from structural beams. For instance, this iron beam clamp is rugged enough to not slip or become distorted once tightened onto a beam. One innovative product, and appropriately named, is the bat wing clip rod and wire fastener. It is used to fasten bridle rings to drop wire that is attached to building structures.
Ties and Straps for Bundling
The two most popular bundling products on the market are ties and straps.
Ties, aka zip ties, are made of plastic, stainless steel or Velcro-type hook-and-loop. They’re inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk, and the plastic ones come in many colors if you want to color-code your cable bundles. Ties come in different lengths or can be lengthened by linking two or more. Despite their thin profile, they are very strong and resistant to loosening or breaking over time. And yet they can be loosened or tightened if cables need to be removed or added to a bundle. But ties can have drawbacks. If you overtighten one it can eventually damage the cables it bundles. This is more likely to happen if the cables are moved around a lot. Also, it can be harder to loosen a tie to remove a cable than it is with a hook-and-loop strap.
Perhaps the best thing about hook-and-loop straps is their adjustability. If the size of a cable bundle changes or wires need to be rerouted or upgraded, the straps can be quickly removed and reattached. That makes it easier to identify cable paths and troubleshoot issues. Another plus is the ability to customize the length of hook-and-loop straps. If you buy it in a bulk roll, you can cut it to the exact length you need for any bundle size. Because hook-and-loop straps are wider and a bit more flexible than zip ties, they won’t damage the shielding on your cables.
Cable management products organize your cords and make it much easier to install, uninstall or re-route them and to troubleshoot wiring problems. If you desire a more organized rack or IT closet you can divide your search into the three groups discussed above: rack and cabinet attachments, cable routers along walls and ceilings, and ties and straps for bundling. ShowMeCables offers myriad products in each category. And don’t forget that we also carry a full line of professional racks and cabinets. You can get one pre-assembled or custom configure your own.
You might start your search for cable management solutions right here. For any additional help or advice on what product is best for you, contact the ShowMeCables sales team!