A fiber patch panel is one of the key components of cabling. It works as an easy-to-manage cable management and termination tool and keeps your wiring clean, tidy, well-in-order, and quick to troubleshoot. Therefore, nearly every corporation needs to deploy an appropriate one. But some people may get bewilderment about which type of fiber patch panel to choose. Today we’d like to talk about choosing the best fiber patch panel.
First of all, determine which location you want to install. Because different sites require different mount types of fiber patch panels. Generally, there’re four kinds of mount types: Rack Mount, Wall Mount, Outdoor Mount, and finally, DIN Mount.
This is the most popular mount type of fiber patch panel. As the name indicates, it must be mounted onto a relay rack, such as a 19”, 21” or 23” rack system. Among them, the 19” is the most common.
Its height is conventionally measured using a Rack Unit, abbreviated as RU or U, defined by the EIA-310 Standard as 1 3⁄4 inches (44.45 mm).
There’re various dimensions of Rack-Mountable fiber patch panels, including 1RU, 2RU, and 4RU, and equipped with ports varying from 12, 24, 48, 64, 72, 96, up to 288 even more, for larger dimensions, more ports.
Generally speaking, 1RU patch panel is ubiquitous in data centers, although 2RU and 4RU are also deployed in high-density wiring environments.
Less common than Rack Mount, this kind of mount type is designed to suit an installation environment where wall space is a premium, so it’s often compact and lightweight. It can be easily mounted to any wall using the internal mounting holes, often equipped with routing guides to limit the bend radius. Its surface is usually made of a telco backboard(3/4″ plywood), concrete, or metallic panel.
This kind of mount type is specially designed for outdoor installation, so a NEMA rating equal to or above 4 is recommended for better protection from environmental damage.
Besides, wall or pole installations are accommodated.
Also popular in the industrial environment, as therein, the DIN rail is preferred. Small-size, featherweight, with a DIN clip attached, enables easy installation and removal.
In the US, T-35 DIN rail is most commonly used.
Once you’ve decided where to install the Mount type of fiber patch panel is determined, we’ll go into the next step.
Theoretically, there’s no limit on port number, so it’s up to you to decide how many ports you’re needed to deploy as your cabling system requires.
Commonly used ports are 12, 24, 48, 64, 72, 96, up to 288.
Then you’ll have to pick up the right adapter types. Usually, the adapters are the same type, for example, the LC and SC adapters. Occasionally hybrid adapters are needed.
But how to choose the most appropriate type of adapters?
It’s depended on your connector types. For more detailed information about the connector and adapter, have a read of
Unloaded or loaded
Next, you’ll have to choose between the unloaded version or the loaded version of a fiber patch panel. Each version has its own pros and cons.
Unloaded fiber patch panel
An unloaded version means a bare chassis. On the bright side, this gives you huge flexibility to arrange adapter panels, pigtails, and slice trays as you like to meet your demands. On the dark side, you have to buy these accessories on your own, meaning extra money, time, and labor to spend.
Loaded fiber patch panel
In contrast, the loaded version comes with adapters preinstalled only, adapters and pigtails pre-installed, or loaded with adapters, pigtails, and slice trays. These pre-installed fiber patch panels will significantly reduce your installation cost, especially when you want to upgrade the 40/100 G high-speed network. Then the loaded version with LC in the front panel and MTP/MPO in the rear panel will be the perfect option for you.
The only fly in the ointment of the loaded version is that, once a port is damaged, as it is permanently fixed, you can’t replace it with a good port and have to leave it alone.
As the demand for bandwidth keeps rising, people will encounter the migration issue soon, usually upgrading from 10G bandwidth infrastructure to 40/100G high-speed network. It’s better to consider using an MTP/MPO breakout fiber patch panel for a seamless migration.
The configuration consists of LC adapters installed in the front panel and MTP/MPO adapter(s) deployed in the rear, offering a high-density, more efficient and flexible cabling solution. The same argument applies to MPO/MTP cassette.
Always choose the best configuration of your fiber patch panel within your budget, as it is cost-effective and not expensive compared to a switch. With each connection in good order, you don’t need to bother about the wiring, thus can concentrate on your work, which is the essence.