New Life Telecom is an expert in patch panel wiring and full structured cabling for commercial companies located throughout the greater Sacramento, CA region.
New Life Telecom is happy to provide you a quote for your patch panel wiring and all the low voltage cabling needs for your business. Give us a call and we’ll get your quote started with a free walk through.
This article was written by a human. 🙂
Patch Panel Wiring
What Is A Patch Panel?
A patch panel is hardware that is usually installed in your network server room and consists of panels of jacks that are typically mounted to a metal frame.
The panels are like double sided jacks. Coming into the back of the panel are the data cables that have been run throughout your building. They are gathered here behind your patch panel and wired into the jacks.
On the front of the panel are more jacks. Patch cords (short network cables with jacks on either end) will plug into these jacks. The opposite ends will plug into your network equipment.
This will complete the connection between the end point of the cabling (i.e. the jack at your computer desk) to the network equipment. This allows you to plug in a computer at your desk and connect to the internet and your local area network.
Your low voltage contractor will install your patch panel as part of your network cabling installation.
How Do Patch Panels Work?
Patch panels give you an easy way to connect the data lines from their locations throughout your building to your network connection.
If you only have one or two data cables coming into your network room from within your building, you might not be using a patch panel. In this case, you can plug your cables directly into your modem, router, or switch.
However, there are reasons why most offices use a patch panel.
3 Things Network Patch Panels Are Used For:
- Patch panels can be configured with enough ports for all the computers in your office. Initially, growing businesses will run out of ports on their network equipment and need to upgrade to a patch panel and switch. They can also leave room for additional port interfaces to be added to the rack later on, to allow for future growth.
- Additionally, patch panels help minimize damage to your internal cabling. For example, imagine that you have a long cable run from your reception desk in the front of your office to the server room in the back of the office. If that cable is terminated with a jack that plugs directly into your modem or router, you may end up unplugging and moving that cable often. Doing this could potentially damage that long cable run and require an entirely new run, or patch job. Using a patch panel allows you to replace just the short cable running from the panel to your network equipment in the case of damage.
- Finally, patch panels also help you make quick changes to ports and locations. This can become a necessity when using certain types of phone systems when employees are often moving desks or your are implementing new conference room solutions. It can also help you troubleshoot issues with your wiring. If you have an employee with connection problems, a patch panel – when labeled properly – will tell you exactly which cable provides that location’s connection and you can troubleshoot accordingly. Without a patch panel, you wouldn’t know which cable was run to which desk.
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Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Patch Panel
The most common mistake businesses make when purchasing a patch panel is not thinking about future growth. Even if you don’t want to buy extra patch panels that you don’t currently need, it’s wise to create the space for them if you anticipate your business growing over the years. Purchase a rack large enough to house all the patch panels you might need in the future. This allows you to purchase patch panels one at a time as you need them. It’s much easier to add them to empty space in your network rack than it is to upgrade to a new, larger rack. Such a task would require rewiring your patch panel for the new rack.
Another common mistake when choosing a patch panel, is purchasing one in the cheapest category. You might not anticipate it, but most patch panels in this category end up breaking down over a short time, and their jacks break easily during install. We have been called out to jobs to replace entire rows of jacks in low quality patch panels because they are quite literally disintegrating after only a couple of years.
It’s wise to invest a little in your network infrastructure which plays such a crucial role to your business. Replacing patch panels a year or two after install will cost much more than an upgrade to a better quality patch panel for your initial purchase.
How To Choose The Right Network Patch Panel
- Make sure you choose a patch panel that matches the type of wiring used in your building. For example, if you’re using Cat6e cabling throughout, make sure your patch panel is rated for Cat6e. If you have different types of cabling in your building, choose panels that allow for each type.
- You will also need to choose how your patch panel will be mounted. Rack mounts are an excellent choice for server rooms and can accommodate various types of network equipment. However, you also have the option of wall mounted patch panels and even surface box mounts for very small offices.
- Stick to a trusted brand like Leviton, which offers the added bonus of an extended warranty. Avoid patch panels that are considerably cheaper as you will likely only get a year or two of use out of them.
What Tools Are Needed To Install & Wire A Patch Panel
To wire patch panel cables, you’ll need a cable stripper, cable cutters, and a jack rapid cable punch. There are many tutorials online to learn how to do your own patch panel wiring, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
Patch panels and patch panel wiring is most often installed by a low voltage professional cabling technician. These pros know the ins and outs of cabling, jacks, and patch panels which can save a ton of time in wiring your patch panel.
If you’re interested in patch panel wiring and you want to be able to do some of it yourself, you can certainly learn. Along with the tools mentioned above, you’ll also need basic tools to attach the patch panels to the frame. Keep in mind, however, that patch panels can easily sustain damage during install or even have defective jacks. A low voltage contractor will have testing tools to ensure proper connections from end point to server room, and be able to make repairs and adjustments needed on the spot.
Can You Reuse A Patch Panel?
You can absolutely reuse an old patch panel in good condition – just watch out for these common problems. First, keep an eye out for pins that may have been damaged inside of the jacks. If you are installing a used patch panel, go through and test each jack to make sure it’s functional. A low voltage tech can do this quickly with their equipment.
Secondly, hard to see fragments of wire can get stuck in the connections in the back of the panel. When a new wire is punched on top of those fragments, you can experience connection problems. Use a magnifier to check each connection, and carefully remove any wire fragments with tweezers. Again, a low voltage company can do this with ease and minimal damage.
Does Fiber Optic Cabling Use A Patch Panel?
Need Patch Panel Wiring? We're Here To Help.
New Life Telecom has been wiring patch panels and expertly installing low voltage cabling through the greater Sacramento area for decades. Our techs pride themselves in the detail of their work – from creating the best overall cabling plan, to making sure each label is placed perfectly. If you need a company to come in and wire your building and patch panels the right way, give us a call and we will be happy to provide you with a quote.