What is a Patch Panel and Why do you Need it?

It’s better to spend a little time planning your cabling than trying to untangle hundreds of wires of a running network system.

The Concept of the Accessory

A cross or patch panel is an indispensable element of an organized wiring system, which helps structure and optimize hardware operation at a facility. It has a lot of contacts and connectors. The patch panel size depends on the number of ports. The device is suitable for category 5 cables, fiber optic cords, RJ45 wires, and others.

Tool Application

First of all, let’s answer the question ‘what is a patch panel used for?’ The accessory is widely used in system administration to facilitate the organization of communication between network apparatus in server rooms. Each port on the patch panel is connected to other hardware in a wide range of switching environments, such as cabinets and racks, telephone company offices, and data centers. The patch panel brings all cable connections together to connect to another network. The tool is vital when it is necessary to connect a local network to the Web or when a single trunk is used for all telephones with many telephone lines.

Benefits of Patch Panels

Patch panels stand as an important part of every IT system. Its application is justified due to the following advantages:

  1. Scalability. When connecting new devices to the system, re-cabling from the very beginning is not required.
  2. Order. Tools reduce wire clutter by positioning it close to the equipment, allowing specialists to connect a short patch cable instead of a long patch cord for fiber optic or other high-performance connections.
  3. Price. Devices perform only one function, namely, simplify data transfer; thus, there are no other features that could increase the cost of these accessories. Besides, the material for manufacture is not expensive.
  4. Cost-benefit. Since patch panels allow the use of shortened cables, the total cost of this part of the IT system is less. For instance, administrators can use Category 5 conductors rather than expensive fiber optics to access the patch panel.
  5. The simplicity of assembly and ease of maintenance. Just imagine if every apparatus had a separate wire going straight to its final destination.

While being fairly simple in function and design, a server rack patch panel stands as the best tool for improving the organization and performance of a data center or any other environment with hundreds of components and endless bundles of wires.

Patch Panel Management

Dozens or even hundreds of cables going in and out of the patch panel can easily get tangled up. Unorganized wires can make troubleshooting much more difficult or even cause downtime if someone plugs in the wrong cord by mistake. Thus, cable management starts with the first connected wire and is very important in the long run. To keep order in and between the accessory, the staff tends to use several techniques:

  1. Marking. Maintenance employees mark all conductors at both ends and in the middle. Leaving marks will let technicians identify the needed cords quickly and easily to be sure that they are servicing the right wires.
  2. Organizers. They are used to wiring cords neatly to each of the ports, which provides the specialist with an understanding of ‘what and where it goes’.
  3. Color coding allows technicians to quickly determine the type of cable anywhere through a large system.
  4. Ties. Tying conductors with them will help keep cords neat and organized.

The main thing is to have a good plan of cable routing from the very beginning. It is recommended to spend a little time choosing a good cable management method rather than trying to untangle hundreds of wires later.

Principle of Operation

Now, let’s find out the explanation of the question ‘what does a patch panel do?’ Users will find ports on the outside of the tool. These are specially marked 8P8C (RJ-45) connectors used to connect patch cords. Output contacts from the connector are located on the reverse side of the panel. Most often, these are IDC-type connectors. Each of the ports is color-coded according to the standard specification, as well as a specific digital value. Its color usually corresponds to the shade of the twisted-pair wires.

The cable is embroidered specifically. This process is carried out by pressing cores between contacts with the use of a special tool. Insulation removal is carried out only at the point of contact, which guarantees a high level of connection reliability since there is practically no risk that oxidative processes will occur in this place.

Kinds of Patch Panels

Specialists distinguish between several popular types of accessories:

  • twisted-pair copper wire, which is used for laying networking systems. To make a twisted-pair cord, one should place them in parallel and twist two separate insulated wires, which helps reduce crosstalk or electromagnetic induction between pairs of wires.
  • fiber optics wire is a cord, the design of which is based on fiber light guides, that is, optical fiber. Information is transmitted in the form of light photons, not radio waves. It is practically immune to all sorts of interference, is easy to route, and provides a high data transfer rate.
  • coax wire is a cable in which there is a center conductor and a screen. They are coaxial and separated from each other by a void that can be filled with insulating material. This type of cable is used to transmit RF signals.

The modern market offers diverse solutions for all sorts of systems and multiple purposes to please the demands of all customers.

Patch panels VS Switches: Difference, Pros, and Cons

Although both accessories look similar (a solid frame with rows of ports), panels are used to protect and manage cords, while switches are designed to route and filter data on a network.

The main advantages of panels include time- and space-saving, the clean and neat look of server systems, multiple customizable options, and ease of application. They do not require energy feeding.

As for switches, they are beneficial due to a wide range of speed options and sizes, as well as the guarantee to transfer data safely. However, they require power.

Here, you understand the core of the issue ‘what is the use of patch panel?’ Accessories are flexible solutions for data center arrangements. They help make systems structured, organize cords, and route them neatly.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer

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