Patch Panels and Patch Cables Explained

A patch cable is a short Ethernet cable. It connects a networking device to another networking device. A patch panel organizes wires and provides termination points for Ethernet cables running to wall plates in work areas.

Patch cables

Twisted-pair cables are used to make patch cables. There are two types of twisted-pair cables: STP and UTP. Both types are used to make patch cables. However, using UTP cables to make patch cables is more common.

Cable vendors sell patch cables in fixed lengths such as 1, 3, 6, 10, 25, 50, and 100 feet. If a patch cable of the required length is available in the market, you can buy it from the market.

patch cables

If a patch cable of the required length is not available in the market or you need a custom-length patch cable, you can easily make it yourself. To make a custom-length patch cable, take the cable of the required length and terminate both ends with RJ-45 connectors.

No matter whether you purchase a patch cable or make it yourself, you should use a patch cable that meets your network's requirements and wiring infrastructure.

Based on pins-out, there are two types of patch cables: cross-over cables and straight-through cables. A cross-over cable is used to connect the same types of devices such as a computer to another computer, a switch to another switch, a hub to another hub, etc.

A straight-through cable is used to connect different types of devices such as a computer to a switch, a switch to a router, etc.

To learn more about cross-over cables and straight-through cables, you can check the following tutorial.

Straight-through and cross over cables

Patch panels

A patch panel organizes cables in a structured wiring infrastructure. It is usually a standard 19-inch-wide rack-mounted panel with a series of RJ-45 jacks that provides a branching-out point for network cabling to leave the wiring closet and make horizontal runs to wall plates in the work areas.

patch pannel

Patch panels are used to bring cables run from individual end devices such as computers and servers to a single location where they can be patched to other equipment using patch cables.

Patch panels typically have either 24 or 48 ports. Depending on the size of your network, you can use more than one patch panel at a single location.

For example, if your network has 82 end devices, you can have two 48-port patch panels to support a total of 96 end devices.

A patch panel itself does nothing in the network. It only provides a central collecting point for all your network cables so you can easily manage and connect them to other devices, such as switches or servers.

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