Wired networks have their advantages over WiFi. It might seem as though everything is wireless these days, but wired networks are still prevalent. Most businesses used wired networks in order to maximise internet speeds.

However, wired solutions can be messy. This is where a patch panel can come in useful.

Connecting lots of devices to a switch, server or other networking hardware component means a large number of cables that need to be appropriately managed. You also need to keep future growth in mind, so flexibility and scalability are essential considerations in any cabling architecture.

So, how can you do this?

Locating a patch panel in a suitably central location (a server room or data centre, for example) will keep your cabling organised and easy to modify. This article addresses the question “what is a patch panel?” and explains how it can benefit your business.

What Is a Patch Panel and How Does It Work?

A patch panel, sometimes also described as a patch field or patch bay, is a piece of hardware containing a set of ports, usually fixed into a cabinet. Each port connects to another port elsewhere in your network, such as a server or network switch, using a patch cable.

Patch panels group together multiple ports, terminating network cables at the back of the panel and routing their signals to their intended destinations via the patch cables on the front. This might be for communication systems, a local area network, or electronics such as sound equipment; this hardware has a role to play in a variety of industries. As part of a LAN, for example, a patch panel connects multiple computers to each other and to outside lines which enables internet access.

Rearranging the circuits on the patch panel is as simple as plugging or unplugging the patch cables, enabling swift configuration changes and increased efficiency. Troubleshooting is greatly simplified by having just one location for input jacks.

What Are the Benefits?

The main benefit is improved cable organisation which, in turn, simplifies network management. By installing a patch panel at a central point in your network, it’s easy for network administrators to update, move or otherwise change complicated network infrastructure without relocating hardware or re-routing cabling. For example, by using a patch panel for telecommunications, transferring lines between offices can be achieved in very little time.

Many patch panels, such as the CE patch panels, also include cable management features to keep installations tidy and the option to label individual cable runs. This makes it easy to identify the current configuration and helps with troubleshooting any issues.

CE 24 Port Cat5e Patch Panel - RJ45 UTP

CE 24 Port Patch Panel

CE 48 Port Cat6 Patch Panel - 1u RJ45 UTP

CE 48 Port Cat6 Patch Panel

CE 24 Port Cat6 Patch Panel - High Density Through Coupler

CE Patch Panel High Density

Using a Patch Panel

Finding a patch panel that fits with your existing network should be easy. They work with either copper or fibre cabling and comply with the standards set for speed and signal performance in other network components.

Panels such as the CE patch panels mentioned above are designed to comply with enhanced Cat 5e and Cat 6 standards.

Most panels include 24 or 48 ports, although it’s possible to have 96 or more if required. You can use multiple panels in parallel to give you the number of ports that you need and to expand capacity when required. The ports are often grouped into smaller sections of 8 to make maintenance easier.

In conclusion, if you’re responsible for a wired network, a patch panel can be highly beneficial for cable management and seamless network routing. A suitable patch panel for your network will work with your existing components to help you to create a more adaptable and scalable cabling infrastructure for your business.