Understanding Different Types of Patch Cables and Tip When Purchasing

Understanding Different Types of Patch Cables and Tip When Purchasing

Networking and cabling go hand in hand. With the desire to have fast and reliable internet, going wireless is becoming the in-thing; users can access the internet without a cable connecting their devices to a router. Wireless internet is standard, but wired internet still achieves maximum speed and efficiency. If wired internet is your preference, then cables come in handy.

One such cable is a patch cable that connects two electronic devices to a network. They can also hold signals between devices not connected to the existing network like headphones. They are also called patch leads and sometimes referred to as patch codes, and they make it easy to move data from one place to another without interruptions.

There are different types of patch cables categorized as FC, SC, ST, LC, and MT-RJ based on their uses. Below we discuss the different types of patch cables and their benefits. It is also important to note that most patch cables are fiber optic.

Types of Patch Cables

FC Patch Cable

If you are looking for high-speed communication links, then the best cable to use is FC patch cable. It has a high precision connector with an anti-rotation key to reduce damage to the fiber. The anti-rotation key also helps in aligning the fibers to minimize loss. FC Patch Cable comes in single-mode and double-mode versions. FC stands for ferrule connector and is designed for use in environments with high-vibration or high speed, as mentioned earlier.

ST Patch Cable

With the ability to support video, data, and voice services, ST patch cable is useful in both field and indoor LAN applications. Just like FC, they also have high precision and can use both single and double-mode versions. It has a spring-loaded ferrule that protects the cable from unnecessary tightening and damaging of the fiber. You can mount it with either a plastic or metal housing. It is an old generation connector but is still commonly used to build a network for buildings and campuses.

LC Patch Cord

Lucent Connector (LC) patch cable was developed in 1990 to replace SC connectors because they are smaller. It is a popular patch cord, especially for single-mode applications like pluggable transceivers. It still uses its components like the ceramic ferrules and housing, only in a smaller size as it is replacing SC. It is useful in simplex designs with a push and latch structure and also high performance.

MT-RJ Fiber Optic Patch Cord

MT-RJ patch chord is easier to terminate that the others and has two separate fibers fixed on one connector. It has two categories; one with pins and one without pins. The pinned MT-RJ is used to join with the no pin connectors. Their ferrules have [precision metal guide pins with specific dimensions to ensure that fiber is correctly aligned when they are connected. It is also one of the most reliable patch cords you can find in the market.

SC Patch Cord

SC is a single-mode patch cord used for analog connections with a greater connector packaging density on patch panels. It has a thick outer body that protects the fiber from damage. It is also available in multi-mode, but the popular one is the single-mode version. SC patch cord is mostly used in fiber optic networks as it is cost-effective and efficient.

Copper Patch Cable

Networking technicians use copper patch cables for their strength, corrosion resistance, and thermal expansion. When setting up LANS, they use category 6A, 6, 5e, or 5 patch cables because they have varied and unique performance. Therefore, it is necessary to check on the brand and category before purchase. Be sure to select the right patch cable for the type of network you want to create. A patch cable can improve or slow down the performance of a system if not used correctly.

Tips for Choosing the Right Patch Cable

Patch cords exist in many types that it is not easy selecting the right one for your needs. Here are the steps to choosing the best.

Select the right connector type

Both ends of the cable have a fiber optic connector to plug into different ports in a device. Some devices have the same ports, while others have different ports. Before setting out to buy the patch cords, you must identify whether the ports are the same or different so that you can buy a cable with the right connectors.

Select between Single and Double-Mode

The type of mode depends on the kind of connection you want to do. You will need a single-mode fiber optic patch for a long-distance transmission while multi-mode patch cable used in short distance transmissions. Single-modes are usually yellow, while multi-mode is either orange or aqua.

Select the Right Cable Pockets

Cable pockets come in three categories; polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low smoke zero halogens (LSZH), and optical fiber non-conductive plenum (OFNP). PVC is resistant to oxidation, therefore best used near the wiring center. LSZH is used between floors because it is flame-resistant, while OFNP is designed for use between buildings because it allows air movement.

Look out for Physical Characteristics

Before you buy any patch cable, ensure it can stand the stresses and harsh conditions of the environment like excessive heat or cold, foot traffic, moisture, fluids like oil, and other scrap materials.

Patch cables are the foundation of the networking industry as they are the solution that most networking gurus opt for. These cables are useful in different sectors, medical, mechanical engineering, cable TV networks, LAN application, and telephone lines. They are preferred because their signal transfers are accurate and rarely interrupted. They are not easily distorted, and they cause no interference or electrical hazards.

Patch cords come in different colors to make it easy to distinguish them. They are not like the structured cabling because they are built with flexibility; to make it easy to substitute or to be used as extension cables. Patch cords or patch cables are relatively shorter in comparison to other networking cables. They can be as short as 3 inches but not longer than 10 meters.

Uses of Patch Cables in Networking

The internet is one of the best inventions that we have in our world today, and even though cords are still in use, accessing the internet without lines is a thing today. However, cables are still an essential part of us, especially if you desire fast internet and a clear example is the patch cord.

A patch cord is a cable that connects two devices within one network, computers, and any other device. The primary use of these cables is to hold both audio and visual signals between applications that are not in the network like telephones, headphones, and microphones. Patch leads are another name for patch cables. They are also known as patch code, but it is more associated with non-network cable styles such as cable stereo devices.

The difference between a patch cable and other cables is that it is flexible and has connectors at both ends. The uses of a patch cable are listed below:

Uses of a Patch Cable

To Structure a Wired Network

The primary role of patch cables in any given network, especially a wired network, is to structure it. Patch cords provide essential control of the system by connecting all wires and terminations using front-access patch stands, especially in tight spaces. Telecommunication equipment like telephones and routers that play a vital part in the company are also connected using patch cables. With patch cables, network architectures’ transfer becomes easy, and communication lines between different offices within the organization are not affected.

To Connect Devices to a Wall Outlet

In the case of a wired network, you need a cable to connect your device directly to the internet, especially to a wall outlet. Patch cables come in handy as they match machines together. They make this connection easy because they have connectors are both ends, making it simple to connect to a wall outlet and a device. They come in many colors and are usually shorter than other networking cables; one way to differentiate them from other wires. The connectors at both ends of the patch cord make them compatible with most devices.

To Connect Two Devices

Patch cords not only connect your device to the internet but also creates a connection between two devices. You may want to connect your computer to your printer or any other piece of hardware. Patch cords will offer that connection to ensure things run smoothly in your home or office.

To Exchange Signals Between Devices

You ever wondered how telephone signals work? How is it possible to communicate with each other within the office through the phone? Well, patch cables are responsible for that seamless operation within the office. Without telephones, you’d have to walk up to your colleague’s desk to speak to them, but with the phone, you only have to dial their extension numbers and talk to them on the phone, thanks to patch cables.

To Connect to a Server

You can use a patch cord to connect a server to a switch port directly. When a network is created, there needs to be a test to see if it is efficient; this is called a channel test, and you can’t do a channel test without a patch cord. It can also be used in Ethernet cable, although patch cable is suitable for shorter distances between networks.

Speaking of Ethernet cable, it has often been used interchangeably with a patch cable or sometimes confused to be the same thing. Let’s discuss the difference between the two lines. For instance, an Ethernet cable is a twisted cable that belongs to the copper network, divided into categories like Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6. Ethernet cable gives a clear definition of the way information passes through a particular medium.

Patch cable (also known as patch cord), on the other hand, is similar to Ethernet cable, only shorter, and it has connectors on both ends of the line. Patch cables are efficient in shorter distances because of their length. They are used to connect devices within a network or connect a device to the internet directly from a wall outlet.

Patch cables come in 2 modes; either single or multi-mode and how the light beams travel through the wires is determined by which mode it is on. Due to its thin diameter, single-mode allows signals to pass at a higher speed compared to multi-mode fiber, which has a bigger diameter. Patch cables have been adopted in the vast telecommunication industry and have become a vital part of networking.

The desire to have reliable internet is why companies and even home-owners seek ways to improve their internet connectivity. Cabling is one way to improve the internet’s speed, even though using the internet without cables is acceptable today. Patch cables improve speed and efficiency and allow for more office devices to connect to the internet. Also, they connect devices that are not within a network but essential for the organization’s smooth running of operations. Not everyone has an interest in wireless connection; that is why patch cables come in handy to offer the comfort of a wired connection.

Patch cables come in different categories like FC, SC, ST, LC, MT-RJ, and various colors and sizes. Although they are much shorter than standard wires, their benefits are massive. They are versatile and flexible enough to use when re-wiring. Patch cords can either be a substitution for another cable or as an extension line to connect other devices to the internet or a network. The shortest patch cable measures 3 inches while the longest measures 10 meters, the reason why they are not fit for long-distance connections.

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