How to Use a Fiber Patch Panel

What is a fiber patch panel?

The fiber patch panel is the interface between multiple network devices and the fiber cables, providing excellent cable management and termination performance, which is indispensable in wired networking. With it installed between a switch and other network equipment, the routing is maintained in order, and it’s easy to change the connection, simply altering the socket through which the target patch cable goes. Plus, instead of a tanged and messy wiring, which is hard to troubleshoot, a fiber patch panel makes it much easier for engineers to locate where performance issues reside.

fiber distribution panel
Figure 1: fiber distribution panels

What’s the structure of a fiber patch panel?

A fiber patch panel is a metal enclosure housing two compartments. One contains either fiber adapter panels (FAPs) or MTP cassettes, the other reserved for a splice tray and excess fiber storage.

The FAPs provide an array of ports interfaced with network devices located elsewhere in LAN, offering an interface for outside and inside ports to the enclosure. The inside ports are fixed as the cables can’t be disconnected at any time, whereas the outside ports are prepared for patch cords, which can be plugged and unplugged for connections as needed.

The splice trays are used for fusion splice with fiber optics pigtails meant to be plugged into the fixed inside ports of the adapter panel.

the structure of fiber patch panel
Figure 2: the structure of fiber patch panel

How does a fiber patch panel work?

Remove the protection caps of fiber patch cables and insert them into ports in the adapters.

As shown in the figure below, longer patch cables leading from network devices, including pc, mobile, wall jacks, hubs, etc., are plugged into the back-side ports of the patch panel. Shorter patch cables connect the patch panel with either a switch or another patch panel, plugged into the front-side ports.

Figure 3: Workings of the fiber patch panel
Figure 3: Workings of the fiber patch panel

How to terminate fibers in the patch panel?

You can either use the splice tray to fusion splice with fiber optic pigtails or use fiber optic connectors to terminate with ports in the adapter panels. The fusion splice approach is better than the connector approach, as it both has the lowest loss and is quicker, usually within seconds for an expert technician.

What are the common types of fiber patch panels?

There’re four mount types of fiber patch panels, namely Rack Mount, Wall Mount, Outdoor Mount, and DIN Mount fiber patch panels.

Rack Mount fiber patch panel

As the most popular mount type, the Rack Mount fiber patch panels are designed to be mounted onto the relay racks, usually onto a 19 inches rack system, though 23 inches racks are also used.

Defined by the EIA-310 Standard, the 19 inches and 23 inches indicate the horizontal spacing between the two vertical posts the equipment will mount. And the vertical spacing between the mounting points is measured by Rack Units, abbreviated to RU or U. 1 Rack Unit is defined as 1 3/4 inches (44.45 mm).

Conventionally, the specifications of Rack mount fiber patch panels will specify how many rack units they will occupy when installed. 1 RU rack size is the most commonly used in data centers. 2RU and 4RU are also used for high-density applications.

Figure 3: Rack Mount fiber patch panel
Figure 4: Rack Mount fiber patch panel

Wall Mount fiber patch panel

As the name implies, the Wall Mount fiber patch panel is mounted into the wall using its internal mounting holes.

Figure 4: Wall Mount fiber patch panel
Figure 5: Wall Mount fiber patch panel

Outdoor Mount fiber patch panel

This kind of fiber patch panel is meant to be directly installed outdoors; thus, a NEMA rating greater than or equal to 4 is recommended. This rating is defined as the ability of the material of the enclosure to resist environmental hazards.

NEMA 4 Outdoor mount fiber patch panel
Figure 6: NEMA 4 Outdoor mount fiber patch panel

DIN Mount fiber patch panel

The equipment is designed to be small and compact to be mounted onto the DIN rail, using a DIN clip attached to the DIN rail.

Figure 7: DIN Mount fiber patch panel
Figure 7: DIN Mount fiber patch panel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.