Patch Panel Breakdown
For those that aren't aware, a patch panel (also known as a patch bay, patch field or jack field) is a housing that contains jacks used for connecting and routing circuits. They show up in many different fields, from computer networks and server rooms to recording studios for music, radio and television.
There are a number of different patch panel options available, each with its own benefits and specific uses. Let's take a look at some of the different types out there.
These patch panels are easy to wire, as they have ports on both the front and the back that allow you to plug in already-terminated RJ45 cables. You simply plug in the cables on either side and you're good to go. However, it requires you to have all your cables pre-terminated, which is not always practical. This brings us to…
This type of patch panel involves more effort to wire up on the back side, since the cables must be “punched down”, ie. terminated directly into the rear of the patch panel, rather than being terminated into an RJ45 plug prior to installation. While it makes the installation itself more involves, it saves you from having to pre-terminate a large amount of cables. It's also a more economical solution, as feed through style panels tend to cost more.
These panels are quite simple: they're basically just a “scaffolding” style set-up that modular jacks can be plugged into. This means they can be quite versatile and flexible, since you can use whatever style of jack you choose: HDMI, coaxial, fiber, RCA, or really any type of keystone jack you wish. Additionally, it allows you to color code the system if you desire, but including different color jacks to denote their functionality.
This type of panel is designed to mount on something other than a standard server rack. They are ideal for smaller set-ups or areas where space is limited. Different options can be wall-mounted, or attached to back rails of cabinets, ladder trays, or mounted under floors. For home or small office applications, these allow you to forgo the bulky racks and enclosures typically used to house patch panels.
Usually used for telephone and voice applications, these panels feature a 25-pair (50-pin) connector on the rear of the panel. Many set ups today use voice-over-data, negating the need for 25-pair cables, but for legacy set-ups that still utilize that type of older system, TELCO style panels allow them the flexibility to use the 50 pin connector.