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What Is A Network Patch Panel? Why Use It? How to Buy It?

2018-09-14 11:27:38 | Cable Management

Now we often need to deal with lots of cables when building up networks for data centers, offices, or homes. And it is best practice to use network patch panels for connecting these cables to various networking devices. However, there are still people who think this is redundant, unaware of the benefits of a network patch panel. Therefore here will have a thorough introduction to the network patch panel and its benefits, and give some tips on buying the best network patch panels.

network patch panel

What Is A Network Patch Panel?

The network patch panel is a passive mounted hardware assembly with multiple ports to connect and manage input and output cables that need to be connected to the networking hardware. It is usually attached to network racks, either above or below network switches or servers. Now there are many types of network patch panels designed for various applications. For example, there are Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7 Ethernet patch panels for specific cable specifications. While according to the number of ports, 12-port, 24-port, and 48-port patch panels are also available. In addition, there are also unshielded and shielded patch panels, punch-down and feed-through patch panels.

Why Use A Network Patch Panel?

As mentioned above, a network patch panel servers as a static switchboard which connects numerous devices to a central server, switch or other critical hardware. If we don’t use it, we’ll have to run Ethernet cables from each device directly into the central hardware. Moreover, every time we want to reconfigure the network or cabling for more devices, it will be difficult for us to find out the right cables, unplug them and connect them to the new devices. Besides, network patch panels also benefit us a lot in the following aspects:

Easy for Cable Management and Identification

With network patch panels, all Ethernet cables can go into one central cabling location. This helps to keep the cabling system tidy and organized, avoiding cables from becoming tangled and messy. In addition, patch panels’ ports are often labeled, which allows us to better identify which cable comes from where.

Convenient for Reconfiguration and Troubleshooting

Since all cables are terminated on the network patch panel, the switch or server won’t be disturbed when small changes are made with the cabling. Furthermore, these changes can be made easily and quickly. As for troubleshooting, the clearly labeled ports make it easier to locate cables which need to be tested or replaced.

Reduced Risk of Outage

As we all know, there is a risk of damaging the surrounding cables when adding or removing a networking hardware. However, the usage of network patch panels can greatly reduce the risk of unplanned outages by making it easy to add and remove cables without touching the main hardware.

How to Buy A Network Patch Panel?

When buying a network patch panel in the market, you’ll find there are many options in terms of styles, cable types, number of ports, etc. It’s easy task to decide which cable type you use and how many ports you need for your cabling. However, you’d better be careful in choosing between network patch panels for home and patch panels for enterprise network or data center.

If you want to buy a network patch panel for home or small office, an unshielded Cat5e or Cat6 patch panel with 12 or 24 ports is often enough. And for most home users, they often choose the punch-down panel rather than a feed-through one for its cheaper price. If you buy a punch-down one, you’ll need to wire the patch panel by yourselves. Further more, wall-mounted network patch panels are also popular for home networks. For enterprise network or data center users, it’s better to use rack mounted shielded 48 port Cat6a or Cat7 patch panels. And the feed-through ones are also suggested. For more information on buying punch-down or feed-through panels, read Should We Choose Punch-Down or Feed-through Patch Panel?



Rack Cable Manager for Data Center Cable Management

2018-08-07 15:50:57 | Cable Management

As plenty of devices and cables are added into data center cable racks, cable management in racks becomes one of the most pressing challenges for data center managers. To avoid rack cables looking like messy spaghetti, rack cable manager has long been an ideal solution to keep rack cables properly organized. But there are so many kinds of rack cable managers in the market, do you know which one to use for a specific situation? Here discusses some popular rack cable managers and their respective applications.

Cable Management Sections for A Rack

To better understand different kinds rack cable managers, we’d better to know the four cable management sections of a rack. Which are horizontal cable management, vertical cable management, inside of the rack cable management and top of the rack cable management. Horizontal cable managers and vertical cable managers are used for horizontal and vertical cable managements respectively, while copper/fiber patch panels and fiber raceway systems are for inside and top of the racks. The following parts will introduce various cable organizer for these four cable management sections.

Horizontal Rack Cable Manager

Horizontal rack cable manager is often used to manage cables in the front of racks and draw cables away from equipment neatly. It is usually one or two rack units high. Now there are many types of horizontal rack cable managers in the market, which are mainly divided into finger duct rack cable manager, D-ring horizontal cable manager and horizontal cable manager with brush strip. Among them, finger duct rack cable manager offers fingers and pass-through holes for routing rack cables and reducing cable strains, D-ring cable manager provides an “open” and efficient way to manage cables, brush strip manager is mainly used for allowing cables to be passed from the front to the rear of the rack. For more information on these three rack cable managers, read Selecting the Right Horizontal Cable Manager.

horizontal rack cable manager types

Horizontal Rack Cable Manager Types

Vertical Rack Cable Manager

Vertical rack cable managers are used for providing vertical pathways for cable bundles in the rack. Now the common types of vertical rack cable managers are D-ring vertical cable manager, vertical cable manager with bend radius fingers, and open frame rack vertical cable managers. The first one is a cost-effective solution for organizing and routing cable bundles. The second one is designed to maintain cable bend radius effectively. And the last one is available in single-sided and dual-sided models, which are specially used on the sides of open frame racks. For more information on these three rack cable managers, read Vertical Rack Cable Management: Where to Start?

vertical rack cable manager types

Vertical Rack Cable Manager Types

Fiber Raceway System

Fiber raceway system is used to route and protect cables above racks. It consists of fiber raceway ducts, ladder racks, various interfaces, elbows and supports, etc. The fiber raceway duct often available in four sizes from 2"x 2" to 4" x 12". The following video shows how to set up a good fiber raceway system for top of the rack cable management:

Copper/Fiber Patch Panel

Copper/fiber patch panel is used to manage cables in the rack. It is often a board or enclosure which allows you to connect cables in various combinations with a number of copper/fiber sockets. Copper/fiber patch panel helps to keep things organized and contained, therefore cables in the rack won’t hang out all over the place. For more information about copper/fiber patch panel, read How to Use Fiber Patch Panel for Better Cable Management and How to Select the Suitable Copper Patch Panel?


Horizontal/vertical rack cable managers, fiber raceways and copper/fiber patch panels are good ways to manage and route your rack cables to sure everything is easy to access and identify. It is suggested to select proper rack cable managers according to your needs during set-up and installation of network cabling system.