What Is an Equipment Room?

B. Turner

An equipment room is a dedicated space within a building that is used to hold computer and telecommunications equipment. This room may also be known as a central apparatus room (CAR), and is also referred to as a data or server room. Depending on the function of the facility, and equipment room may also house broadcasting or radio equipment.

An equipment room may hold computer servers.
An equipment room may hold computer servers.

In very large establishments, such as college campuses or businesses spread over multiple buildings, the equipment room generally houses only equipment shared across the entire facility. This include large central server systems, telecommunications gear, and networking equipment. Devices used in a limited number of buildings or departments are generally housed in separate telecommunications or data rooms. In a smaller facility, the central equipment room may be the only space used to house all of these systems and all related equipment.

Equipment rooms often include computerized control systems.
Equipment rooms often include computerized control systems.

While the layout of these rooms may vary based on the needs of different types of users, most utilize some form of racking or storage system to keep equipment and cables organized. The equipment found in these rooms often produces a great deal of heat, resulting in dedicated air conditioning systems used to keep the room within a specified temperature range. Many also utilize a series of alarms to alert users if temperatures fall outside of an acceptable range, as this could lead to an equipment failure or even a fire. The equipment room may include some form of computer terminal or control system that allows workers to maintain and monitor building systems.

Like an electrical or mechanical room, equipment rooms are often subject to strict regulation regarding their layout, design, and safety features. This is primarily due to the high voltages associated with the equipment housed in the rooms. Many local building codes or fire departments include provisions to help contractors and building owners design these rooms to maximize safety. While requirements may vary, they typically include rules about emergency exit lighting, fire suppression systems, and access control. Generally, one of the main goals of an equipment room layout is to balance safety with function and productivity.

Whenever possible, many builders locate the equipment room along an exterior wall, which allows for an exit directly to the outdoors. This allows for quick and efficient access during an emergency so that users can shut down equipment or repair a malfunctioning system. It also enables the control room operator to exit safely in a fire should occur in this room.

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