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How to Use and Buy Fiber Patch Panel for Better Cable Management

October 8, 2012

Fiber patch panel is a cost-effective and easy-to-use cabling solution to keep your data centers well-organized. So how to use and buy fiber patch panels for a better cable management? Find the answers in this article.


How to Use the Fiber Patch Panel?

Fiber patch panels are essential for high-density cabling systems, how to use them for deploying a network? In this section, the common steps for connecting patch panels with fiber optic cables or network switches will be demonstrated.

How to Connect Fiber Patch Panel with Fiber Cables?

  • First of all, make sure your fiber patch panel works normally and put it on a clean and level work surface or desk. If you choose the fully loaded fiber patch panel, just install it on your rack with specific tools. If your patch panel is unloaded, please insert fiber adapter panels or cassettes into it. Then fix the mounting plate in the right position.

  • Prepare enough fiber or copper cables you need, connect the cables by fixing gland and roll the excess fiber (or copper cables) on to the spool. After that, remove the protection cap and insert into position in the adapter. Once the cables are all attached, it’s better to use a zip tie to secure the cables in a bundle.

  • Label each jack location on the fiber optic patch panel so as to distinguish the cables. Finally, mount the patch panel in a rack or cabinet.

How to Install Ethernet Patch Panel and Network Switch?

Step 1: Attach the 24 port patch panel and 24 port switch to a rack-mounted floor stand in the wiring closet.

Step 2: Run the Ethernet cables from their jack locations out in the computer room. Each copper cable will come from a wall mounted jack that the installer has placed in the wall. They will all return to the wiring closet through a small hole to accommodate the wires.

Step 3: Connect the wires into the 24 port patch panel and use a punch-down tool to connect the wires to the appropriate slots on the patch panel. Once the wires are all attached, it is better to secure the wires in a bundle by using plastic zip ties.

Step 4: Label each jack location on the 24 port patch panel to designate which room is connected to that jack.

For more fiber patch panel installation tips, please refer to: How to Install Patch Panel and Switch?

How to Buy A Fiber Patch Panel?

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

Fiber Patch Panel Size

At first, you’ve got to know your requirements on fiber patch panels. Basic parameters like height, depth, width and weight will determine the type of your fiber optic panels. 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, 2RU and 4RU fiber patch panels are applied for high density applications. No matter what kind of size patch panel you choose, please always select a larger size to meet your existing equipment and future growth.

Fiber Patch Panel Port Density

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

Loaded or Unloaded Fiber Patch Panel

Loaded fiber optic patch panel is pre-installed with fiber adapter panels or cassettes while unloaded patch panel is empty. LC and MTP cassettes are often installed in loaded patch panels to build the path for 40/100G migration, thus can greatly reduce the time spent on installation. However, loaded panels are often permanently mounted, so if one of the ports gets damaged it’s dead forever. As for unloaded fiber patch panels, 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.

Fiber Patch Panel Compatibility

Fiber patch panel compatibility is essentially dictated by the fiber optic equipment and components requiring optical connectivity via the patch panel. Typical duplex single-mode or multimode optical links require LC or SC connectors of either the UPC or APC variety. However, due to next-generation 40G and 100G networking and the use of more advanced multi-fiber connectors and pluggable equipment (e.g. QSFP+), the design and layout of a fiber patch panel may call for specific polarity requirements. Please remember to choose a patch panel with nice compatibility for your various requirements.

The Bottom Line

For modern data centers, it is imperative to stay organized with fiber optic panels-not just for easy upgrades and quick access, but also to prevent dangers that are inherent with any network system. When you are choosing a patch panel for your network, please always remember to select one with a larger capacity, high port density, excellent compatibility within your budget.

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