Black vs. White Data Center Cabinets: Does Color Make a Difference?

For over twenty years, the color of data center cabinets has been relegated to a standard black or gunmetal grey. But since 2015, light gray and white have become modern alternatives. While there has been much debate about the contrast between light and dark cabinets, the positive impact of a white cabinet is undeniable.

4 Reasons Why You Should Consider White Data Center Cabinets

1. Reduced Energy Lighting

Did you know white data center cabinets contribute to an overall lower data center energy bill? The ambient light reflection from an all-white data center space results in 25-30 percent light energy savings, according to a recent data center study.

According to cabinet manufacturers, the light reflectance value (LRV) of white cabinets averages approximately 80 percent while black cabinets reflect approximately 5 percent. This in turn means that there is 16 times more ambient light with white cabinets. This comes into play for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements for data centers. LEED’s mission is to help data centers become more sustainable and energy-efficient. White cabinets help meet this mission by reflecting more light than black cabinets — which means less energy used towards lighting. 

2. Increased Visibility

The most obvious advantage when choosing white cabinets comes from the improved visibility inside of the cabinet itself. Instead of a darker cabinet that requires a technician to work with a flashlight or headlamp to see what they are working on, white cabinets provide enough ambient light to eliminate the need for additional lighting and clunky headgear.

White cabinets allow labels to be read with the door closed, enabling the technician to easily identify the server they’re looking for. Black cabinets require the door to be open in order to read labels. When labels are harder to read, the chance for human error is greatly increased.

3. Better Working Conditions

The overall lighting in a data center with white cabinets equates to better working conditions for technicians and engineers. The standard engineering guidelines for lighting areas of office work are at 250 lux whereas detailed mechanical work (the kind that may be performed in a data center) are at 2000 lux (8 times higher). This is certainly an area in which the white cabinets far outperform the black cabinets.

4. Clean Cabinets

The color of the cabinet doesn’t impact how much dust and dirt will collect, but will impact how much you can see it. Dust is harmful to servers, network and data storage equipment and can cause potential unplanned downtime. White cabinets make the dust and dirt more visible (and encourages more frequent cleanings), while black cabinets can hide the dirt (allowing for dust to build up over time).

Lauren Bronston

Lauren is a Content Writer and SEO Specialist for TelNet Worldwide. When she’s not diving into data centers or SIP Trunking, Lauren writes TV scripts and builds music playlists for fun. Want to know more? Follow Lauren on LinkedIn.
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