A raised-access computer floor provides an elevated structural floor above a solid substrate (often a concrete slab) to create a hideaway for data and electrical cabling. Raised floors are commonly used in areas like command centers, call centers and computer rooms and can be installed at varying heights — from 2 inches to over 4 feet — to accommodate specific cabling needs.
But, cable management isn’t the only benefit to installing raised-access floors. This system can also be utilized for proper workspace ventilation. Sub-floor air distribution has become a common way to cool a building, using the void below a raised-access floor as a plenum chamber — an enclosed space in which air flows —to distribute conditioned air.
Many 911 Dispatch Centers that take advantage of raised-access floors often have isolated air-conditioning zones, which can be directed at computers and other machinery to keep them cool, while ensuring an even, comfortable temperature throughout the room. To cool equipment, perforated tiles or diffusers are strategically placed beneath computer cabinets to direct conditioned air inside. Furniture manufacturers, such as Xybix Systems, will then design custom workplace solutions such as CPU cabinets that draw cool air from below and push it into the rest of the room. An air-conditioning unit then draws the air from the room, cools it, and forces it beneath the raised floor, completing the ventilation cycle. On top of providing a comfortable atmosphere in the workplace, this underfloor air conditioning process conserves energy and saves money — a win-win for businesses.
For safety purposes, automatic fire protection shutoffs and smoke detectors may be required for underfloor ventilation. Additional suppression systems may also be installed in case of underfloor fires. This is for the protection of your employees and your Comm Center. Additionally, because flooring tiles are rarely removed once workstations and equipment are installed, the space below is seldom cleaned. During installation, it’s vital that the substrate and pedestals are thoroughly scrubbed. If this area is not cleaned properly, dust and debris will settle on the substrate, which not only will make working on the cabling and electrical that runs underneath the flooring a dirty job in the future, but the dust could trigger the smoke detectors under the raised floor, resulting in false alarms.
What you need to know about Raised-Access Floor Construction
What do raised-access floors traditionally consist of? Here are some details of what you can expect from this innovative flooring system:
Most access floors consist of a gridded metal framework or substructure of adjustable-height "pedestals", which provide support for removable floor panels about 2-by-2 feet in size.
The height of the pedestals is dictated by the volume of cables and other services provided beneath, as well as the height of the ceiling, but typically allow for a clearance of at least 6 inches.
The Floor Panels
The floor panels are normally constructed of a steel outer shell with a particleboard internal core or a steel panel with a lightweight cement internal core, although some tiles have hollow cores. Panels may be covered with a variety of flooring finishes, such as carpet tiles or high-pressure laminates. Anti-static applications are always recommended for use in Comm Centers and equipment rooms. When using panels with a cement top surface, carpet tiles are recommended.
Other Important Considerations
- Weight-load requirements (based on the equipment you’ll be installing)
Raised-access floors are the best way to create a fully functional 911 Dispatch Center and equipment room that will keep your employees comfortable and computers functioning properly. This flooring solution can save you money and headaches, especially when you need to update or maintain cabling. So keep cool and consider how raised-access floors can benefit your business.