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How to choose fiber optic pigtails?

Table of Contents:

  1. What are fiber optic pigtails
  2. Applications of fiber pigtails
  3. Advantages of using factory-terminated pigtails
  4. Fiber pigtail versus fiber patch cords
  5. Fiber optic pigtail splicing
  6. Fiber pigtail specifications
  7. Fiber optic pigtail types
  8. Fiber pigtail color code


Buy fiber optic pigtails from Fiber Optics For Sale Co.

Buy Fiber Optic Pigtails from Fiber Optics For Sale Co. 


What Are Fiber Optic Pigtails?

A fiber pigtail is a single, short, usually tight-buffered fiber optic cable with a factory-installed connector on one end, and un-terminated fiber on the other end.

ST/UPC single mode fiber pigtail



Fiber optic pigtails are used to terminated fiber optic cables via fusion splicing or mechanical splicing as shown in the picture below.

The end of the pigtail is stripped and fusion spliced to a single fiber or a multi-fiber trunk. Splicing of pigtails to each fiber in the trunk "breaks out" the multi-fiber cable into its component fibers for connection to the end equipment.

High quality fiber pigtails combined with correct fusion splicing practices offer the best performance for fiber optic cable termination.

99% of single mode applications use pigtails, but pigtails are also used in many multimode applications.

Fiber optic pigtail fusion splicing onto a fiber cable

Fiber pigtails on a adapter panel


Advantages of Using Factory-Terminated Pigtails

  • Lower labor costs
Installers working with single mode fiber typically have a fusion splicer machine. With a fusion splicer, you just splice the pigtail right onto the fiber cable in a minute or less
  • Factory guaranteed high quality
The factory-terminated pigtails are made in a controlled environment (the factory) and high quality polishing machines. The factory promises low insertion loss, high return loss (low reflection).
Each pigtail is labeled with factory-tested insertion loss and return loss. Also a serial number that you can trace to the factory measurements.


    Fiber Pigtail versus Fiber Patch Cords

    • Pigtail has only one end with connector installed, the other end is left open. While both ends of a fiber patch cord has connectors installed.
    Fiber Pigtail (unjacketed)

    Fiber Patch Cord (jacketed)


    • Fiber patch cord could have two different connectors installed on each end, such as from SC to ST. While fiber pigtails have only one connector.

      SC to ST Patch Cord

      SC to ST Fiber Patch Cord


    • Fiber optic patch cords are usually jacketed, while fiber pigtails are usually unjacketed. Since fiber pigtails are usually spliced and protected such as in a fiber splice tray.

      Fiber Pigtail in a splice tray

      Fiber pigtail in a splice tray

    • Fiber patch cords come in simplex (1 fiber), duplex (2 fibers), or even 12 fibers count (MPO connector patch cables)

      LC Simplex Patch Cord

      Simplex LC-LC patch cord (1 fiber)

      Duplex LC-LC patch cord (2 fibers)

      Duplex LC-LC patch cord (2 fibers)


      12 fiber mpo patch cord

      MPO-MPO patch cord (12 fibers)

      12 fiber MPO fan out to LC patch cord

      MPO fan out to 12 LC connector patch cable

    • Fiber patch cords can be cut into two pieces to make two pigtails.

      This is because testing a pigtail in the field is not easy. The unterminated end is difficult to check until the pigtail is actually spliced to the equipment.

      Some installers avoid this problem by buying unjacketed fiber patch cord, testing its performance, then cutting it into halves as two pigtails.


    Fiber Optic Pigtail Splicing

    Fusion Splicing:

    Fusion splicing is the process of fusing or welding two fibers together by an electric arc. Fusion splicing is the most widely used method of splicing as it provides for the lowest loss and least reflection, as well as providing the strongest and most reliable joint between two fibers.

    Fusion Splicing

    This video shows the fusion splicing process.


    Fiber Pigtail Specifications

    Fiber pigtail specification shows fiber type, connector type, polishing type, ferrule material, insertion loss, return loss, tensile strength, operation temperature and other critical parameters.

    Here is one example from two MU connector pigtails.

    MU PC 50/125µm OM3 10G Multimode Fiber Pigtail

    MU Single Mode Fiber Pigtail

    MU 50/125µm OM2 Multimode Fiber Pigtail

    MU 50/125µm OM2 Multimode Fiber Pigtail

    Type Single-mode Multimode
    Patch cord Type MU Fiber Optic pigtail
    Polishing Type PC UPC APC PC
    Insertion Loss (dB) ≤0.2 ≤0.25
    Return Loss (dB) ≥45 ≥50 ≥60 N/A
    Repeatability (dB) IL≤0.2  RL≤5 IL≤0.1
    Vibration (dB) IL≤0.2 dB  RL≤5dB IL≤0.2 dB
    Exchangeability (dB) IL≤0.2 dB  RL≤5dB IL≤0.2 dB
    Tensile Strength F200N
    Durability n=1000
    Operation Temperature (℃) -40℃ ~+80℃
    Ferrule Material Zirconia Ceramic
    Cable Diameter (mm) Ø0.9, Ø2.0, Ø3.0


    Fiber Optic Pigtail Types

    Fiber optic pigtails are available in various types based on several factors:

    • Connector Types
    • Fiber Types
    • Application Environment
    • Fiber Counts

    Connector Types:

    LC Connector Pigtail


    LC Connector Pigtail

    SC Connector Pigtail

    SC Connector Pigtail

    ST Connector Pigtail

    ST Connector Pigtail

    FC Connector Pigtail

    FC Connector Pigtail

    MTRJ Connector Pigtail

    MTRJ Connector Pigtail

    MU Connector Pigtail

    MU Connector Pigtail

    E2000 Connector Pigtail

    E2000 Connector Pigtail


    Fiber Types:

    Fiber optic pigtails can be made with any optical fiber types. Here we are listing the most common ones.

    Multimode Fiber Types List


    Fiber Size List

    Fiber Size List

     LC OM1 Multimode Fiber Pigtail

    OM1 Multimode Fiber
    Fiber Core Diameter: 62.5µm
    Fiber Cladding Diameter: 125µm
    Jacket Color: Orange

    LC OM2 Multimode Fiber Pigtail

    OM2 Multimode Fiber
    Fiber Core Diameter: 50µm
    Fiber Cladding Diameter: 125µm
    Jacket Color: Orange

     LC OM3 10G Fiber Pigtail

    OM3 10G Multimode Fiber
    Fiber Core Diameter: 50µm
    FIber Cladding Diamter: 125µm
    Jacket Color: Aqua

     LC OM4 10G Fiber Pigtail

    OM4 10G Multimode Fiber
    Fiber Core Diameter: 50µm
    Fiber Cladding Diameter: 125µm
    Jacket Color: Aqua

     LC OS2 Single Mode Fiber Pigtail

    OS2 Single Mode Fiber
    Fiber Core Diameter: 9µm
    Fiber Cladding Diameter: 125µm
    Jacket Color: Yellow


    Application Environment:


    Regular Indoor Pigtail

    Regular indoor pigtail has no special protection, just bare fiber.

     Armored Fiber Pigtail

    Armored Pigtail

    Enclosed with stainless steel tube inside the outer jacket, armored fiber pigtails could provide extra protection to prevent damage caused by rodents, construction work, weight of other cables.

     Waterproof fiber pigtail

    Waterproof Pigtail

    Designed with a stainless steel strengthened waterproof unit and armored outdoor PE jacket, this pigtail can be used in harsh environment like communication towers, military applications, etc. It is mainly deployed in outdoor connection of fiber transmitters.


    Fiber Counts:

    Fiber optic pigtails are usually sold in packs of 6 or 12. Each individual pigtail is color coded according to industry standard TIA-EIA-598-A.

    LC Pigtail 6 pack color coded

    LC Connector Pigtail (6 pack, color coded)

    LC Connector Pigtail (12 Pack, Color Coded)

    LC Connector Pigtail (12 pack, color coded)


    Pigtail Color Code

    Fiber optic industry standard TIA-EIA-598-A defines the color coding to identify individual fibers in a single fiber cable tube.

    Optical fiber pigtails follow the industry standard TIA-EIA_598-A color coding scheme to identify themselves.

    Here are the colors and the position they represent.

    Optical Fiber Color Coding

    For 13 fibers and higher the color code is repeated every 12 and the buffered fibers or sub-cables are striped once for every additional 12.

    13 = Blue with one stripe

    14 = Orange with one stripe


    24 = Aqua with one stripe

    25 = Blue with two stripes


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