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How to choose fiber optic patch panels?

Table of Contents


We keep in stock all types of fiber optic patch panels.

Order it here or by clicking on the picture below!




What is a Patch Panel?

A patch panel is essentially an array of ports on one panel. Each port connects, via a patch cable, to another port located elsewhere in your building.

Cat6 Patch Panel


So what is the purpose of using a patch panel in networking? Patch panels help making the connection of different devices easy and organized, such as computer stations, servers, switches, electric or electronic instruments.

This is shown in the picture below.


The purpose of using a patch panel

If you want to set up a wired network that includes multiple wall ports in various rooms, a patch panel in a central location can provide a simple, neat and easy-to-manage solution.

The reason that host network connections don't go direct to switches is generally to do with ease of management. For example, desk locations on an office floor can be cabled back to a wiring closet patch panel which is labeled with the locations. You can then connect short patches between the patch panel and the switch. This makes re-patching desk locations (for user moves etc) much simpler, as the desk->patch panel runs don't need to be touched at all.

In a data centre, a similar argument applies. If a server needs to be moved to a different subnet that is on a different physical switch to the one it's connected to, having intermediate patch panels is very useful. For example, many server rooms have an MDF (master distribution frame); all servers and all switch ports are cabled back to labeled patch panels on this frame. Then, creating a connection between a server and a switch is a simple case of a patch between two ports on the frame, rather than needing to have floor tiles lifted to run a new end-to-end patch.

This is shown in the picture below.

The application of patch panels


What Are Fiber Optic Patch Panels?

Fiber optic patch panels are also known as fiber distribution panels. They make it easy to terminate fiber optic cables and provide access to the cable’s individual fibers for cross connection.

A basic fiber optic panel is typically a metal enclosure that encloses the adapter panels and fiber splice trays. Splice trays allow fibers to be fused together with fiber optic pigtails which in turn are plugged into the fixed inside ports of the adapter panels.

The inside ports of the panel is usually fixed, meaning that the cables aren’t disconnected at any point. The outside ports of the panel is reserved for fiber patch cables that can be plugged and unplugged frequently to arrange the connections between devices as needed.

Fiber patch panel has two compartments. One contains the bulkhead receptacles or adapters, and the other is used for splice tray and excess fiber storage.

This is shown in the picture below.

fiber optic patch panels


How to Install a Fiber Optic Patch Panel?

The video below shows the wiring instructions for a typical rack mount fiber optic patch panel with splice trays.


The Benefits of Using a Fiber Patch Panel

  • All changes are made at one place

    Patch panels make it easier to connect different devices in different orders, because all of the changes can be made at the patch panel.

  • No more hunting for input ports

    A patch panel groups all of the input jacks/ports into one location. This means that devices mounted in racks can be connected without having to hunt around behind the rack or instrument with a flashlight for the right port.

  • Saves wear and tear of expensive networking equipment

    Using a patch panel also saves wear and tear on the input ports of expensive networking equipment such as servers and switches, because all of the connections are made with the patch panel.


Fiber Optic Patch Panel Types

Patch panels can be categorized into different types based on a few different criteria.

  • Rack Mount versus Wall Mount
  • Fiber Enclosure Design
  • Indoor versus Outdoor
  • Rack Sizes
  • Loaded versus Unloaded
  • Does It Have a Splice Tray?
  • Port Numbers
  • Major Brands
  • Upgrade to 40/100G?


Rack Mount versus Wall Mount

Rack Mount Fiber Patch Panels

Usually the rack mount panel holds the fibers horizontally and looks like a drawer. Rack mount panel is designed in 1U, 2U, 4U sizes and can hold up to 288 or even more fibers. They can be mounted onto 19" and 23" standard relay racks.

Rack Mount Fiber Patch Panel

Wall Mount Fiber Patch Panels

Wall mount fiber patch panels can be easily mounted to any wall using the internal mounting holes.

Wall Mount Fiber Patch Panel



Fiber Enclosure Design

The rack mount enclosures include two kinds. One is the slide-out variety and the other incorporates a removable lid.

Fiber Enclosure Design (slide-out versus fixed lid)

Sliding Design

The sliding design of panels gives engineer easy access to the fibers inside but it’s more expensive.

Fiber Patch Panel with Slide-Out Design

Removable Lid Design

The lid type is less expensive but requires the user to remove the whole enclosure from the rack to gain internal access.

Fiber Patch Panel with Fixed Lid Design



Rack Size (1U, 2U, 3U, 4U...)
In general, rack size is used U or RU as its unit. This unit describes the height of equipment designed to mount in a rack. In data centers, the most commonly used rack size is 1RU.

Additionally, 2RU and 4RU are also used for high-density applications. In this section, you should choose the proper size depending on your preferred working place of the panels.
Rack Size of Fiber Optic Patch Panels



 Indoor versus Outdoor

Indoor fiber patch panels

Indoor fiber patch panel

Outdoor fiber patch panels

waterproof outdoor fiber patch panel



Loaded versus Unloaded

Loaded with Adapter Panels

The loaded patch panel means that the patch panel is loaded with adapter panels, or cassettes sometimes.

In data center applications, the most widely used adapter panels are equipped with LC and MTP adapters.

Fiber Patch Panel loaded with adapter panels


For unloaded fiber patch panel, users should select cassettes and/or adapter panels according to their fiber connector type or use a splice tray for single- and mass-fusing.

Unloaded fiber patch panel is more flexible than the loaded one, but may need an extra purchase for the accessories.

Fiber patch panel unloaded with adapter panels



Does It Have a Splice Tray?

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 fiber optic connector for field termination. A fiber optic connector is directly installed onto the individual fibers. 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.



 Port Numbers

Fiber 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.

Fosco Connect offers a 288 fibers 4RU rack mount fiber optic enclosure, loaded with 12 slots duplex fiber adapter panels. This high density patch panel provides a flexible and modular systems for managing fiber terminations, connections, and patching in all applications.

With its high fiber densities and port counts, it maximizes rack space utilization and minimizes floor space. This enclosure makes it easy for network deployment, moves, adds, and changes. It’s a perfect solution for engineers to do the fiber termination and distribution.

Fiber patch panel port numbers

Fiber patch panel port numbers



Major Brands in the Industry



Are You Upgrading to 40/100G? 

If you are going to upgrade your network from the existing 10G infrastructure to high-speed 40/100G network, the MPO/MTP breakout patch panel solution may be an ideal choice for you.

With LC adapter panels loaded in the front panel and MPO/MTP adapter(s) loaded in the rear panel, the MPO/MTP breakout patch panels offer a high density, flexible architecture, and high efficiency solution for your migration plan.

In addition, MPO/MTP cassette is also a great way to save time and space for your upgrade plan.

 MTP to LC cassette



We keep in stock all types of fiber optic patch panels.

Order it here or by clicking on the picture below!

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