What Is a Patch Panel and Why Do You Need It?

Updated on Sep 29, 2021 by

Providing Flexibility and Simplicity for Your Cable Management in Networking Cabling Systems

A patch panel is an effective and flexible networking device to keep your data center or server room organized as well as make it much easier to move, add or change the cabling infrastructure in the future. The definition, type, function, application and frequently asked questions of a patch panel will be demonstrated in this article.

Patch Panel Types: Fiber Optic Patch Panel and Ethernet RJ45 Patch Panel

Generally, there are two kinds of patch panels in the typical data center infrastructure on the basis of the cables they are working with: fiber optic patch panels and Ethernet patch panels. Both of them are available in different designs, configurations or port counts, and can be customized to fit various network cabling requirements.

Fiber Optic Panels

  • Standard Fiber Optic Patch Panel: the standard fiber optic patch panel can be loaded with LC/SC/MTP adapters, which are commonly used as the intermediate connection between the backbone and patch cables. FS FHD fiber patch panels come with single mode and multimode fiber types with different adapter options and port counts.

  • Breakout Patch Panel: breakout patch panels are specifically designed for high-density 40G-10G and 100G-25G breakout cabling. As an agile and scalable solution to mitigate cable clusters and improve airflow, breakout patch panels deliver aesthetic appeal and make the data center a more inviting place. The breakout patch panels in FS come with both single mode and multimode options.

  • Modular Patch Panel: rack mount modular fiber enclosure panel and multimedia adapter panel are the two common types of modular panels. The former can hold up to 4 FHD MTP cassettes or fiber adapter panels, fitting for both front and rear mounting in horizontal cable management. The latter can allow users to customize their own adapter panel in a high density cabling system.

Ethernet Patch Panels

Ethernet patch cables can be classified into different types: Cat5e/Cat6/Cat6a Ethernet patch panel, blank keystone patch panel, 110 punch down Ethernet patch panel, etc. To know more about Ethernet patch panel types and how to choose the best type, check out Types of RJ45 Patch Panels: How to Select the Suitable One?

The most popular Ethernet patch panel nowadays is the Cat6 feedthrough patch panel, which is welcomed by its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. When you are not sure to decide in advance which type of cables will be used to connect your hardware, you can use a blank keystone patch panel to make a mixed connection based on your actual demands.

What Can You Acquire From Installing Patch Panels?

The patch panel is one of the few components used in both copper and fiber cabling networks and almost all business network setups use patch panels for cabling installations. So what can be a patch panel used for? Finding the answers in the following descriptions.

Aesthetic Appeal

No one would deny that organized cabling is always a fantastic visual feast for everyone. We've seen lots of before-and-after pic about cabling with the help of using patch panels and other cable management tools and we've witnessed their magic power to rearrange messy spaghetti in your rack or cabinet. If you are annoyed with such a mess, the best way to reduce cable clutter more effectively is to use a fiber patch panel or Ethernet patch panel.

More Flexibility

Patch panels give you flexibility and prevent the need to re-run cables or swap equipment places around if you need to change something or if something breaks. For example, punching down the cable to patch panels can allow mechanical relief to the comparatively expensive switch ports. If the cable from the wall or ceiling were to be plugged right into a switch port, that port could be subject to pulling, pushing, etc. and it does not take much for an RJ-45 plug to lose some connectivity like that - either with the inside of a switch port or with the connection to the cable itself.

Simplified Cable Management

Some businesses use structured cabling for phones or you may have multiple businesses sharing office space. In these circumstances, a patch panel would also multiple different equipment to be easily connected to any outlet. The cables on the back of patch panels correspond to permanent jack locations in the users space, which can bring easy and accurate patch panel wiring for network newbies. Besides, the ability to label individual cable runs in a patch panel creates a cleaner and more organized way of identifying signal flow, and troubleshooting technical problems becomes an easier chore.

FAQs About Patch Panel

Do Patch Panels Decrease Signal quality?

Some believe that too many connections between patch panels and switches or other devices may affect the network throughout. Actually a proper patch panel won't decrease your network speed. Just make sure your patch panel is rated for the cable category you are using and check if you've terminated cables using the right way.

Do I Need a Patch Panel or Just a Switch?

Patch panel and switch do the different things. The main function of patch panel is for the purpose of neat and tidy cable management. While network switch enables the connected device to talk to others via the cables. It depends on your specific needs to choose from them.

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