Why You Need Patch Panel For Cable Management
Even if you don’t exactly know what purpose it serves, you’ve almost certainly heard of CAT cables.A CAT cable is the trusty cable that connects your device to the internet. The CAT stands for category (rather than anything feline-related). While there are numerous different types of CAT cables, they are all a standardised form of twisted pair Ethernet cables. The exact category of a CAT cable is determined by the standards that they meet during assembly.
These standards determine the overall performance capabilities and functions of the cable, from bandwidth to transfer speeds.
What are patch panels?
Patch panels, also known as patch bays or patch fields, are an integral part of cable management. They consist of a series of ports, arranged either horizontally or vertically, so that multiple cables can be connected to single, essential point.
Patch panel cable management is used to connect network cables to switches, servers, routers, and other network devices, to make identifying and managing cables more efficient. They are typically used in data centres, or even in radio and television fields. Patch panels are commonly part of local area networks (LAN) as they connect multiple devices to the same network source.
How does a patch panel work?
A patch panel connects multiple cable ports to a single source, such as a network or Ethernet cable. Once this network connection is established, the multiple devices are able to communicate and share information with each other.
Patch panels are available in multiple categories including category 5, 5e, 6 and 6a. The type of category that should be used is determined by the cable usage, and the size of the data transfer from cable to port:
- A CAT5 patch panel is suitable for basic Ethernet networks, and support maximum data transfer speeds of 100Mbps.
- A CAT5E patch panel is most suited for home and small business networks, and is designed to improve signal quality between cables. It supports maximum data transfer speeds of 1000Mbps.
- A CAT6 patch panel is best suited for high-speed data transfer such as video streaming or virtual reality. It further improves signal quality from cat5e, and has a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps.
- A CAT6A patch panel further improves signal quality from cat6, and supports higher bandwidth applications. It also supports a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps.
What are the benefits of patch panels?
Here are some of the key benefits of using patch panels:
Patch panels are designed to be flexible. Their shape - being modular in design - allows them to be added, removed, and transported from infrastructure with ease.
The individual ports also allows for flexibility, where devices can be added or removed without having to reconfigure the entire network. This is especially the case with most patch panels being compatible with a wide range of cables including category 5, 5E, 6, and 6A.
Unlike switches, patch panels are passive devices. They reduce the need for additional cabling or hardware since they can connect a number of cables to a single device. This improves networking, as devices can be added or removed as needed without having to reconfigure network connections.
Testing, monitoring and re-routing cables doesn’t need to involve blindly plugging in a cable and guessing where it might connect to! Patch panel cable management makes troubleshooting network issues easier, as the labelled and organised cables allow you to easily identify connections and where the source of power is being directed from.
Products such as cable tie-downs or cable management bars also assist in cable management, as they prevent cables from becoming tangled and damaged.
Convinced but need help?
Determining what kind of patch panel would work best for your cable management needs can be tricky!
If you have any questions about what cable category would be more suitable for your devices, or what size patch panel would integrate best in your system, you can visit our contact us page and one of our customer service team members will be in touch.