Fiber optic communications have been a rapidly growing industry for the past two decades. It was initially used primarily for backhaul communications between large ISPs. Fiber, however, is now widely used and available almost everywhere. It’s most likely in your office, on the telephone poles outside your house, and possibly even inside. As the fibre industry has grown, a diverse range of fibre optic patch panels has been developed to meet the diverse needs of these various environments.
What is a patch panel?
A patch panel, also known as a distribution panel, is a passive device that contains multiple ports and facilitates and organises device connections. Wires connect the patch to other IT devices like computer stations, servers, switches, and electric or electronic instruments on each of those ports.
Depending on your requirements, this passive device is available in a variety of sizes, with or without a plethora of ports. They can be used in a variety of settings, including data centres and communication closets.
Advantages of patch panels
Many people wonder if the investment in this type of equipment is worthwhile, but they should know that, despite often going unnoticed, this device is a vital piece of equipment to have because:
- Because they are typically installed close to the devices, patch panels allow you to use shorter cables, which saves money.
- You can label cables to make it easier for technicians to confirm that everything is working properly.
- Allows for a high density of connections
- It makes the installation of new devices or cables more flexible.
What is a fiber optic patch panel?
The fibre optic patch panel is also known as the fibre distribution panel. Its primary function is to terminate the fibre optic cable and provide connection access to the individual fibres of the cable. Fiber patch panels are termination units that provide a secure, organised chamber for housing connectors and splice units.
Fiber patch panels are available in rack or wall mount cabinet configurations and are typically installed near terminating equipment (within patch cable reach). Both types are capable of housing, organising, managing, and protecting fibre optic cable, splices, and connectors. Rackmount panels are also available in flat and angled configurations.
Criteria for Selecting a Fiber Patch Panel
One of the first and simplest questions to answer is “Where will the panel be located?” because this determines housing design, required protection, and application. Will it be used indoors or outdoors, in a rack or mounted on a wall?
Panel Capacity & Density
The second consideration is the fibre patch panel capacity, which addresses the quantity, density, and scalability of the number of fibre ports/connections required.
Loaded or unloaded
Other parameters to consider when selecting a fibre patch panel include loaded patch panel versus unloaded patch panel. The patch panel is loaded when it is loaded with adapter panels or cassettes in some cases. The most commonly used adapter panels in data centre applications include LC and MTP adapters. The unloaded patch panel is the inverse of the loaded patch panel. Users should select cassettes and/or adapter panels based on their fibre connector type for unloaded fibre patch panels, or use a splice tray for single- and mass-fusing. The unloaded fibre patch panel is more adaptable than the loaded one, but it may necessitate an additional purchase for accessories.
Port Density & Rack space Footprint
The majority of fibre optic patch panels are housed within rack cabinets in server rooms, network closets, or data centres. Because rack space is at a premium in data centres, the density of the number of fibre ports per rack unit (RU) is an important selection criterion. A rack unit (abbreviated RU or U) is a measurement unit that equals 1 3⁄4 inch. The overall height of standard (19- or 23-inch) data centre rack cabinets, or the height of equipment that mounts inside, is commonly used as a measurement. The height of the frame or equipment is usually expressed in rack units. A standard full-size rack cabinet, for example, is 42U high, whereas equipment is typically 1U, 2U, 3U, or 4U high.
Does It Have a Splice Tray?
Pigtail or field termination can be used for the connection in a patch panel. If the pigtail method is used, a splice tray in the patch panel is required. This method provides the best connection quality and is usually the quickest.
For field termination, the second method employs a fibre optic connector. A fibre optic connector is installed directly onto the individual fibres. This method takes longer than pigtail but does not require a splice tray in the patch panel. However, the connection quality may be inferior to that of pre-terminated pigtails.
Fiber cable installation and management is difficult, especially when there are hundreds or even thousands of cables to manage. The fibre distribution panel is extremely useful in removing wire clutter. It also providing space and protection for all fibre cables required by technicians when setting up fiber-optic links. It also simplifies cable management and troubleshooting. Its primary purpose is to support fibre cable terminations, connections, and patching. Network technicians can control massive fibre cables and connection points in a standard panel or enclosure structure using fibre optic distribution boards. As a result, fibre distribution panels made by fiber patch panel Manufacturer in UK make cable management and maintenance simple and convenient.