What Are Aisle Containment Panels and How Do They Work?

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What Are Aisle Containment Panels and How Do They Work?

When considering Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) solutions for your data center or control room, you have some options when it comes to what panels you want to select. Here’s a look at the features, specs, and benefits of each one.

What Are Aisle Containment Panels?

Containment panels are something used in the installation of Cold Aisle Containment systems, specifically the flat boards that help manipulate the air. 

As you will recall, Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) isolates cold air supply in computer room air conditioning units (CRACs), which actually makes it the opposite of cold in CAC, while Hot Aisle Containment (HAC) solutions improve cooling efficiency by channeling the heat from the server exhaust back to the returns on the cooling units. 

How Do They Work?

These panels go across the tops of cabinets to confine the air supply in a specified cold aisle, which boost high efficiency cooling. However, there’s a challenge with this, as these panels can obstruct the fire suppression release. Some fixes include melt away panels, fusible links, and electromagnetic releases. The panels are clear or transparent in order to promote high light transmission (reduces glare and increases privacy) and the highest fire ratings in the industry (how long material can withstand a fire resistance test).  

What Kinds of Containment Panels Are There?

There are two kinds of containment panels that we’ll discuss below. First is Fixed Ceiling Panels. 

aisle containment fixed ceiling panels rendering

Fixed Ceiling Panels

What are they?

Fixed Ceiling Panels stretch over the tops of cabinets to isolate the cold air supply, avoiding cable trays and other obstructions. 


Typically, these clear panels coincide with raised floor cooling, but if that’s not possible, then sites without raised floors can filter air supply through cut-outs in the ceiling panels. They weigh .3 pounds per square foot and are made from twin-wall polycarbonate. They integrate quite easily with Cold Shield channel systems and include multiple options for fire suppression concerns. 

Benefits of Use

These are ideal for Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) systems and provide multiple options for fire suppression concerns and boast excellent visibility. Also includes optimal control of airflow, with the ability to fill gaps and handle obstructions, and boasts optional cut-outs for suppression or use with activated releases.

The other kind of panel we’re going to look at today is Thermal Ceiling Panels.

Aisle containment thermal drop ceiling panels rendering

Thermal Ceiling Panels

What are they?

Thermal Ceiling Panels are designed to be installed under water based fire suppression systems, when the fire suppression sprinkler heads are located directly above the aisle containment area. Unlike Fixed Ceiling Panels, these can be installed horizontally or vertically to create a tight barrier in the containment aisle.


Typically, these panels are .35 pounds in weight and are available in a variety of colors other than clear, including white, sand, latte, merlot, and black. The panel material is feather-light, recyclable, constructed from .013” rigid thick vinyl. Unlike the Fixed Ceiling Panels, the Thermal Ceiling Panels come in a variety of colors other than clear, which allow for customization. 

Benefits of Use

Drop-away thermal panels allow for the fire suppression systems to work as desired. While you may want to add a smoke detector, if you do, it’s fairly easier to install than it is reconfiguring the entire system. These panels can be lifted to access above contained area. The panels are designed to disintegrate once it hits 135 degrees (most fire suppression systems are set to activate above this temperature). Framed panels are able to be pre-installed for quicker furnishing, and threaded slots that accept standard screws. Overall, Thermal Ceiling Panels offer greater versatility in your CAC solution, as most customers prefer aisle containments that don’t attach to server cabinets. 


So now you know what to consider when it comes to choosing a Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) system panel. If you go with Fixed Ceiling Panels, you’ll have unrivaled visibility with clear panels and multiple options for fire suppression concerns. If you go with Thermal Ceiling Panels, these kinds of panels will consider underwater fire suppression concerns, and unlike Fixed Ceiling Panels, they can be installed horizontally or vertically; they also allow for customization, coming in a variety of colors including clear. 

Whichever one you choose, both easily install with Cool Shield channel system products. 

About Cool Shield

For all of your data center containment system needs, Cool Shield offers the most highly configurable solutions in the industry, whether it’s Cold Aisle Containment System configurations or Hot Aisle Containment System ones. Because Cool Shield knows every data center and organization is unique, the company takes hundreds of standard components to customize a solution for any project on any budget. Cool Shield helps every site get the most out of its cooling infrastructure. For more information, email cssales@cool-shield.com.

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