Patch Panel 101

Patch PanelA patch panel (also known as patch bay, patch field or jack field) is a device or unit containing a number of jacks (typically of the same or similar type) designed for connecting and routing circuits for monitoring, interconnecting, and testing circuits in a convenient, flexible manner. Patch panels are commonly used to connect computer networking, recording studios, radio and television. Actually physically connect.

Yes, I know that ‘everything’ these days is wireless. However there is still an advantage to an actual physical connection of wires.

How it works

Patch panels serve as the nerve center for the cabling network. They allow cables to terminate; signal to reach its destination, and organization be made possible between the clutter of cables.

Patch CableThey bundle multiple network ports together, connecting incoming / outgoing lines — including local area networks (LAN), electronics, electrical systems and communications. When patch panels are part of a LAN, they connect between the various computers within the LAN as well as to outside lines. Those lines allow LANs to connect to wide area networks (WAN) or to the Internet. Arranging circuits using a patch panel is as simple as plugging and unplugging certain patch cables.

The process of troubleshooting problems is simplified with patch panels. That is thanks to the fact that they provide a single location for all input jacks. Patch panels are commonly used in industries that require extensive sound equipment because they easily connect a variety of devices.

The chief advantage of using a patch panel is in the organization and easy management it provides. All cables are accessible and easy to terminate. The panel is designed to be labeled and make the network transparent to anyone. Cables are easily terminated and connections are made effortlessly.

To wire a patch panel you’ll repeat the sequence of wiring an Ethernet jack multiple times for the various ports. For a home network, an 8 port panel is usually sufficient. And it is easy to expand in the event you need more capacity.

While a patch panel is not necessary for a home or office network, it certainly has its advantages. A network with one or more patch panels allows for better cable management and easier and faster time in solving issues over the lifespan of the network.