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What is a Raceway System?

By Derek Schauland
Updated May 16, 2024
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Electrical wiring in server rooms can get unwieldy in a hurry. Wires hang everywhere to ensure the connectivity of systems and business continuity for numerous organizations. Left without some form of organization to keep these wires out of plain sight, this can not only cause frustration, but can also make for a very messy working environment.

To allow for easy cabling additions and modifications a raceway system, a plastic and metal conduit type device is used primarily in data center environments to hide cabling, while still allowing easy access. The raceway system allows cables to be routed out of the conduit through slots in the sides of the plastic while the front cover is solid plastic and snaps in place for a clean, finished appearance. Enclosing the conduit with snap together parts also helps improve access to cabling when full access is needed for replacement of cables or additional modifications.

Raceway systems also have a specific shape, allowing the electrical and data wiring to be routed along a specific path. The back plate of the enclosed conduit is metal and usually grounded when installed, while the other sides of the raceway are made of plastic for easy manipulation and wire routing.

Some raceway systems allow data and electrical wiring within the conduit to be separated for better performance and shielding, which helps keep electromagnetic interference away from data cabling.

Today, some companies include their data centers in tours to both new employees, perspective clients and even customers. Using a raceway system can improve the look of a data center, while hiding the cabling that helps to keep the organization connected, keeping a good appearance for all who see it.

If multiple raceway systems are used, it may be helpful to label the front cover of the raceway as to which computer systems are using the cable in a specific raceway to provide at a glance knowledge of the wiring within the raceway.Even with neatly contained wiring, labeling the ends of each cable to denote the port number of the switch and the server or device the cable connects to can be a great time saver during an emergency situation.

Using a raceway system can improve the access to wiring and prevent it from becoming a tangled mess within any data center. When modifying a data center, it is a good addition to the plan to use a raceway system whenever possible to keep the environment looking new for as long as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Aug 22, 2011

@bythewell - The problem with using an extension cord like that is that you end up with the vulnerable parts of the electrical system under the tank, where they could easily get wet. I'd rather run the cords using a raceway system to the wall outlet and just put up with a little bit of mess to preserve the safety.

Still, an aquarium does not compare to the amount of wires you can end up with in an office setting, especially in a server room as mentioned in the article.

You really have to sit down and think about how to string up your wires so that they won't get in the way, but will also be easy to move if you need to.

By bythewell — On Aug 21, 2011

A raceway system is an absolute necessity for me. If there is even a single exposed wire in the room, I will manage to trip over it!

And it is surprising how quickly any electrical system in a house can end up sprouting wires all over the place.

Even my aquarium ended up with too many wires, as I needed to run the filter, and the heater and so forth. I find in a pinch that using blue tack to stick the wires together along the bottom of the wall from the outlet works really well. Alternatively, you can get an extension cord that has a multi-plug on the end of it and run it to the aquarium, then plug in all the cords out of sight behind it.

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