Optical Power Meter Usage and Selection Guide

Posted on Dec 6, 2016 by

Optical Power Meter Usage and Selection Guide

Today’s high-bandwidth premises networks demand on a reliable fiber optic infrastructure. Proper installation and maintenance of fiber cabling is imperative for minimizing network downtime. Whether you require basic fiber verification capabilities, advanced troubleshooting and inspection, or power measurements. Optical power meter is a must to meet your needs.

Optical power meter (OPM) is a testing instrument used to accurately measure the power of fiber optic equipment or the power of an optical signal passed through the fiber cable. It also helps in determining the power loss incurred to the optical signal while passing through the optical media.

Optical Power Meter – Compact but Powerful in Optical Power & Loss Measurement

To measure optical power at the transmitter or receiver, it requires an optical power meter, an adapter for the fiber optic connector on the cables used, and the ability to turn on the network electronics. The optical power meter must be set to the proper range (usually dBm, but sometimes mW) and the proper wavelength when measuring power. When all are ready, attach the optical power meter to the cable at the receiver to measure receiver power, or to a short test cable that is attached to the system source to measure transmitter power. Mark the value, and compare it to the specified power for the system and make sure it is in the acceptable range for the system. Here offer a video of the optical power testing for a Cisco compatible 10G-LR SFP+ module which is running on Cisco Nexus 9396PX switch using FS.com self-developed FOPM-104 handheld optical power meter.

To calculate the optical loss, OPM is first connected directly to an optical transmission device through a fiber pigtail, and the signal power is measured. Then the measurements are taken through OPM at the remote end of the fiber cable. The difference between the two measurements displays the total optical loss the signal incurred while propagating through the cable. Adding up all the losses calculated at different sections yields the overall loss incurred to the signal.

Guide to Choose Suitable Optical Power Meter

As can be seen from the above statement, optical power meter is very useful and necessary for fiber optic testing. Thus, it’s important to select a suitable optical power meter. During the selection of optical power meter, application, calibrated wavelengths, interface type and measurement range are the factors that must be considered.

Application: Optical power meter can test the absolute optical power in normal fiber optic link and fiber optic devices. However, there are also optical power meters which are designed for special applications, like PON optical power meter and CWDM optical power meter, which can provide fast and easier power measurement for the corresponding applications.

Wavelength Range and Calibrated Wavelengths: Every optical power meter supports a certain range of wavelengths, which are usually ranging from 800nm to 1700nm. If more accurate optical power value is required, it is suggested to calibrate the power meter to the same wavelengths that the devices are running one before testing the optical power. The most commonly used wavelengths are 850nm, 1310nm, 1550nm, etc. Thus, both the supported wavelength range and calibrated wavelengths should be considered.

optical power meter

Measurement Range: The certain range of optical power that an optical power meter can test should also be considered. Generally, the optical power that optical power meter can measure is ranging from -70dBm to +30dBm.

Interface Type: A length of fiber patch cable is usually used to connect the port on optical power meter with the corresponding port of devices for fiber optic testing. The optical adapter interfaces on the optical power meters could be fixed ones. For instance, many optical power meter usually has just one FC adapter. In case you don’t have the patch cords terminated with the corresponding fiber optic connector, optical power meters equipped with several replaceable adapters are also available. There are also optical power meters for multi-fiber interfaces like MPO/MTP.

Optical power meter is an easy-to-use fiber optic testing tool, which can largely increase the working efficiency of technicians. From what has been described in the above content, you may get a basic understanding of optical power meter selection and usage. FS.com offers ready stock for a full series of self-developed optical power meters for different applications, including traditional optical power meter, PON optical power meter, and CWDM optical power meter. You can also customize optical power meter according to your specific applications.

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