Fibre optic cable has been increasingly applied to meet the need of high speed network. In data centres, the cabling infrastructure turns to be more complicated. Under that situation, keeping good cable management is necessary since messy cabling will cause fibre optic loss and not easy for troubleshooting. Then fibre patch panels can serve as the tools for cabling systems.
A fibre patch panel is also called fibre distribution panel. It’s used to terminate the fibre optic cable and provide connection to individual spliced fibres. Besides, fibre patch panels can create a secure environment for exposed fibres, housing connectors and splice unites.
Fibre patch panels can be divided into two types. Both types can house, organise, manage and protect fibre optic cable, splices and connectors.
One is rack mount enclosure. Usually the rack mount enclosure holds the fibres horizontally and looks like a drawer. Rack mount enclosure is designed in 1U, 2U, 4U sizes and can hold up to 288 or even more fibres. The rack mount enclosures include two kinds. One is the slide-out variety and the other incorporates a removable lid. The sliding design of panels gives engineer easy access to the fibres inside but it’s more expensive. The lid type is less expensive but requires the user to remove the whole enclosure from the rack to gain internal access.
The other is wall mount enclosure. While wall mount enclosure is designed for enclosed wall mounting of adapter panels or splice trays. They are fabricated from steel sheets and finished with a light textured black powder coat. These panels can be easily mounted to any wall using the internal mounting holes. They can protect fibres from dust or debris contamination and organise the cables.
A typical fibre patch panel contains four parts: enclosed chamber (rack mount or wall mount), adapter panels, connector adapters (providing low optical loss connection through mating appropriate connectors) and splice tray (organizing and securing splice modules). Adapters on a fibre patch panel are available in different shapes, such as LC, SC, MTP, etc. Most times, all adapters are of the same type in a panel. But sometimes a panel with different types of adapters is needed when more than one type of fibre optic connectors used in a network.
Fibre patch panel has two compartments. One contains the bulkhead receptacles or adapters, and the other is used for splice tray and excess fibre storage. Patch cable management trays are optional for some patch panels and make possible the neat storage of excessive patch cable lengths.
Fibre patch panel ports provide a place for data to enter and exit the panel. The number of these ports vary from 12, 24, 48, 64, 72, 96 to 288 and even more. Actually there is no limit to the number of ports on a patch panel. As long as there is enough room, you can fill the enclosure without interfering with the integrity.
FS.COM offers a 288 fibres 4RU rack mount fibre optic enclosure, loaded with 12 slots duplex fibre adapter panels. This high density patch panel provides a flexible and modular systems for managing fibre terminations, connections, and patching in all applications. With its high fibre densities and port counts, it maximises rack space utilization and minimises floor space. This enclosure makes it easy for network deployment, moves, adds, and changes. It’s a perfect solution for engineers to do the fibre termination and distribution.
In a patch panel, pigtail or field termination can be used for the connection. If it uses the pigtail approach, a splice tray is needed in the patch panel. This method provide the best quality connection and is usually the quickest. The second method uses fibre optic connector for field termination. A fibre optic connector is directly installed onto the individual fibres. This method usually takes longer time than pigtail but doesn’t need a splice tray in the patch panel. However, the connection quality may not be as good as pre-terminated pigtails.
Fibre patch panels are very useful especially in the high density data centre. They feature with the benefits of easy fibre installation, maximum flexibility and manageability. Although patch panels are attractive, it’s the best only when it fits your application. No matter rack mount or wall mount type, loaded or unloaded, you should better choose the most suitable one based on your own situation.
Related article: Dos & Don’ts of Cable Management