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How to Use Fiber Patch Panel for Better Cable Management

October 8, 2012

Cable management is an important aspect of any well designed network. In data center, managing cables or wires helps to maintain basic functionality and protect devices from the clogged airflow due to unorganized and disordered cables. Thus, color coding, splicing enclosure, patch panel and other cable management methods and solutions are commonly used. Among them, fiber patch panel is one cost-effective and easy-to-use cabling solution for modern data center.

What’s the Function of Fiber Patch Panel?

Fiber optic patch panel, also called patch panel or fiber optic enclosure, is used to organize and distribute optical cables and the branches. It acts as a terminate unit, allowing managers to terminate cable elements, and provides a secure, organized chamber for housing connectors and splice units. Fiber patch panel also plays a big role in the administration of the telecommunication network: it helps to limit the clutter of wires when setting them up, as well as to secure splice units and connections. With a fiber optic patch panel in place, managers will be able to perform repairs, replacements and installations in a quicker and more efficient way.

Fiber patch panel cabling

How Many Types of Fiber Patch Panel?

Fiber patch panel is available in two versions: rack mount patch panel and wall mount patch panel. Both can house, organize, manage and protect fiber optic cable, splices and connectors.

Rack Mount Fiber Patch Panel

Rackmount patch panel is generally made for standard 19-inch rack mounting. Depending on the number of connections required, it is often available in 1U, 2U, 4U configurations with flat or angled design. One could choose the most proper one depending on the space and requirements of your project.

Wall Mount Fiber Patch Panel

Wall mount fiber patch panel is featured with low-profile, compact design, offering an optimal choice for securing and protecting fiber connections in telecommunications closets or other installation areas where wall space is a premium. Furthermore, it enables clear and intuitive cable routing paths for integrated bend radius protection and can be easily mounted to any wall using the internal mounting holes.

How to Buy A Fiber Optic Patch Panel?

In that we’ve known the types of fiber optic patch panel, here comes another question – what should we consider while choosing the right optic patch panel? Here are those essential aspects:

Patch Panel Size

List all your requirements for the fiber optic patch panel: height, depth, width, and weight – these basically determine the type of your patch panel. Note that always select a bigger optical fiber patch panel for all your existing equipment and for future growth. Generally, the size of an optic patch panel is measured by RU or U: it describes the height of the equipment mounted on a rack/wall. 1RU fiber patch panel is ubiquitous in data centers, while 2RU and 4RU patch panel also fit well for higher density applications. One can choose the proper size according to the specific working environment.

Port Density

In addition to size, deciding port density of your fiber patch panel also makes a vital part in the course of selection. The request for density in data centers keeps shall never ebb, so optical patch panel also evolves to satisfy the demand – a normal 1U fiber optic patch panel can support up to 48 ports while a high-density version supports up to 96 ports. For MPO/MTP cabling network, there are ultra-high density patch panels that enable 144 ports in 1U size. Moreover, fiber patch panel with 2U or 4U size can help achieve even greater port density.

Loaded or Unloaded

Loaded fiber optic patch panel is pre-installed with fiber adapter panels or cassettes while unloaded patch panel is empty. LC and MTP connectors are often installed in loaded patch panels to build the path for 40/100G migration, thus can greatly reduce the time spent on installation. The demerits of this loaded design, however, is that loaded panels are often permanently mounted, so if one of the ports get damaged it’s dead forever. Unloaded fiber optic patch panel, on the contrary, is more agile – you can mount multimedia fiber adapter panels on it to accommodate copper and fiber cabling, and swap out defective ports at any time. But you may have to spend extra money to purchase adapter panels, and more time to install.


Things will all come to the cost. Choosing an affordable fiber optic patch panel within your installation budget serves as a basic requirement. We sometimes are stuck in a dilemma that whether to choose an equipment only for now or the expensive one for future. However, a premium fiber optic patch panel is a durable item that will provide services for years to come.


For modern data center, it is imperative to stay organized with fiber optic patch panel – not just for easy upgrades and quick access, but also to prevent dangers that are inherent with any network system. So why not to make the smart move and set up a fiber patch panel today?

Related Articles:

Fiber Patch Panels: Network Necessities

Best Patch Panel Cable Management Techniques


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