Different systems have a functional unit that serves as a central location for monitoring and connecting circuits. In the case of optical cabling, patch panels represent the functional unit, which are used to connect and disconnect equipment. Without them, the transmission of data is rendered ineffective. Patch panels allow one to terminate long and troublesome cables so that a signal is connected directly through a patch code to its destination. Patch panels, as a crucial (and often overlooked) element of any interconnected network will be introduced in this article.
Why Do We Need Patch Panels?
There is no denying that patch panels are the crucial elements in cabling systems no matter how big or small. It is said that patch panels are basically pictured as the “traffic light” for a cabling network, and they allow you to terminate cable elements and the signal to be connected to the final destination. In addition, patch panels are found in the telecommunications section of a building, enabling the ease of managing telecommunications networks.
Patch panels are so critical to a system that if anything goes wrong with them, the entire system may fail. That means that they are very important to your networking system! Patch panels also play a big role in the administration of the telecommunications network. Some believe that they are the absolute only way to successfully transfer lines from one office to the next office.
Figure 1 shows the front and rear of a cat6 patch panel
Since they allow such easy management of cables, it makes sense to choose patch panels carefully. There are copper patch panels and fiber patch panels available on the market. If you use both, it is best to separate the cabling made out of fiber from cabling made from copper. But what if you want to choose between copper and fiber patch panels? Which kind is best?
Copper or Fiber Patch Panels
First, you should know that patch panels are used in fiber cabling networks as well as copper cabling networks. So is there a difference between these two types of cables as far as performance is concerned? Well, most professionals don’t see any differences. But others believe that the fiber patch panels are better, even though they are more expensive than their copper counterpart. In fact, they can be up to 40 percent higher in cost.
When it comes to copper patch panels, each pair of wires has a port. Fiber patch panels require two ports, but no hardwiring is needed. Fiber patch panels are a lot easier to install because of this. The fiber is fed through a coupler.
In addition, most professionals are in agreement that fiber is a lot faster than copper patch panels. Both types of patch panels must perform according to the same TIA/EIA standards that are needed to produce speed and signal performance for the rest of the cabling network.
FS.COM Copper Patch Panels
FS.COM Cat5e and Cat6 copper patch panels are the cost-effective solutions for your applications. Take our cat5e patch panels as an example, they are compliant with TIA/EIA 568 industry specifications. These patch panels can maximize your network performance and keep up with the growing changes in your network. FS.COM Cat5e patch panels are available in 6-port and 8-port module groupings, in 8, 12, 24, and 48-port sizes. The high density panel design can be mounted to standard racks or cabinets, accommodate top, bottom or side cable entry, and also save valuable rack space.
Cable installation can be a finicky thing. People without appropriate knowledge and training can not be capable of running cables, otherwise they will end up with network failure. End users might have the experience of running telephone cables, so that they want to take the risk of wiring network cables. In fact, telephone cables can tolerate quite a lot of errors, but that is not the case of the data cabling as it is quite sensitive to cable errors. Therefore, to avoid potential network error and reduce your risks of costly mistakes, here are several things you should know before the cable installation.
Using Cable Management
The first thing you should bear in your mind is that the cabling work won’t stop with the initial installation. More cables and optical devices will be added. Thus to make sure that you label appropriate cables, color-code cables, or implement some other kind of process to make it easier to identify cables later on. What’s more, adding ladder rack, rack-based cable management makes ongoing maintenance much, much easier. The following image can easily illustrate the importance of fiber cable management.
Running Cable in Parallel With Electrical Cables
Data cabling used UTP (unshielded twisted pairs) to achieve its goals. The magnetic field generated by the low voltage running through the cable is a critical component of the communications chain. When you run this unshielded cabling in parallel with electrical cables, that magnetic field is disrupted and the communication becomes noisy and garbled. In many cases, transmissions will simply not make it from Point A to Point B. In other cases, transmission rates will slow to a crawl as communications are constantly retried. If you have to go near electrical power lines, cross them in perpendicular instead. From a personal experience, a newly installed coaxial cable can be easily out of work if they are twisted around the overhead electrical cabling that ran between the two buildings.
Minding Distance Limitations of Your Cabling
It is known that the typical distance limitations for UTP cabling with up to 1 Gbps is 100 meters. However, if you’re running cabling for some other purposes, such as 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps, be mindful of the distance limitations associated with the type of cabling you intend to use. For example, if you intend to run 10 Gbps for up to 100 meters over twisted pair cabling, you need to use Category 6A or better cabling. Or if you are running 10 Gbqs for up to 10 km, you need to use 10GBASE-LR SFP+with patch cord LC-LC.
Planning for Future Proofing
Maybe your network only provision 100 Mbps network connections to the desktop for now, even though the 1G Ethernet has become a ubiquitous standard. But suppose you are going to move to a new location and you need to install new cabling. Are you going to go with yesterday’s best cabling technology or are you going to install something that will meet today’s needs and your needs for the next few years?
Remember, the labor is the most expensive part of your project. While top-of-the-line cable won’t be the least expensive option, you should consider reasonably high-end cable for your installation. Maybe you don’t go with the absolute best, after all, many organizations won’t need 10 Gbps to the desktop for quite some time but don’t go for cheap, either.
Following the Cabling Standards
Many users might have the fallacy that there are only eight individual wires inside a cabling jacket, so why not terminate them at random as long as you use the same scheme at both ends? Of course, that is the bad ideas.
The cabling standard known as EAI/TIA-568-A and B are existed for a reason. This standard defines how the cables are twisted and placed in the jacket. If you deviate from those standards, you risk introducing noise and inefficiency into your cable plant that can have a negative impact on overall network performance. The following image shows UTP Cable Termination Standards EIA/TIA 568A and EIA/TIA 568B, and the only difference is that the green and orange pairs are terminated to different pins.
Testing the Cabling Results to Ensure Cabling System Properly Functioned
Once the cabling is installed, you should test every cable using appropriate tools to make sure that it will be suitable for its intended use. Fiber optic testing of newly installed systems not only verifies that the system meets its design requirements, but also creates a performance baseline for all future testing and troubleshooting of that system to support the evaluation of warranty claims. The following image shows a Visual fault locator (VFL), designed with a visible laser and universal adapter like FC, SC and ST etc., which can help user easily locate faults on the fiber link.
This testing typically includes verifying length and cable specifications matched to needs. If you need 1 Gbps transmission speeds, verify that the cable’s properties will support that need. This testing result will ensure that the data necessary to properly evaluate any future system malfunctions will be available.
Ensure a Quality Installation With Quality Fiber Optics
The amount of information carried in two strands of optical fiber would require a copper cable four inches in diameter. When considering the space constraints, required bandwidth, and long distance transmission needs in today’s applications, fiber optic products are the only viable choice. Easy installation and upgrades allow you to meet future growth needs and install spare fiber today for a more economical choice than installing additional cables later. FS.COM gives you quality products for all your fiber optic needs to reduce your risk of network failure.
To sum up, improperly installed cabling can cripple network performance, create maintenance headaches, and lead to hidden costs. Besides the above tips, you are supposed to increase error-free work with trained technicians. Because the best practice in cable installation is a professional with the proper tools and certifications to ensure the proper installation of the network cabling. Note that a beginner who has little experience in cable installation should be instructed under a professional technician to proceed the cable installation.