View Full Version : Networking Patch Panel

11-09-2003, 01:22 AM
For my school project, I have to LAN two buildings together. Both buildings have 3 floors, and each floor has x amount of machines, servers, and printers.

My question is, I am using switches, Cat5e cabling, fiber backbone etc throughout, but I'm a little confused as to what role a patch panel plays. I'm wondering, why can't I just connect straight through to the switches instead of these patch thingys, but the instructions say i should have them.

I also understand they are called cross connects too????
Any insight on what these patch panels do and why I should use them would be great.

11-09-2003, 02:03 AM
Patch-Panels are a great place for all your cables to come together, usually used if you have the phone running through the same connection type, as it means you have the option of running Phone or LAN from a single point in your employees office.
In the Patch-Panel room you simply have to chose to have a phone or Network cable in the corrosponding plug in the Patch-Panel room, and you get either Phone or Network to that socket in employee/Student XYZ's office.

Hope that makes sense...


Graham L
12-09-2003, 05:05 PM
The main reason for using patch panels is that most of the fixed cables are (have been) single core and should not be handled a lot. They are best terminated once into (rack mounted) patch panels. Then short patch cables (using stranded cable) are used to link them to computers, or into switches, hubs, routers etc. Basically, the fixed wiring is then "fixed".

All interconnections are done using short patch cables, which have (fragile) plugs on them. If a plug breaks, you just grab a spare patch cable, and carry on. You might replace the plug later. If you have the plugs on the ends of the fixed wires, and plug them straight into the equipment, and a plug breaks you have a problem. You might be tempted to rush the replacement of the plug. That's always a bad idea; they've got to be done right. And the cable will be another inch shorter. :D

Using patch panels will add quite a lot to the cost of the job. But it makes maintenance much easier. It lets you make quite extensive changes in configuration easily. The fixed wire coming out of the hole in the wall (or ceiling) is going to be too short if it has to be moved to another piece of equipment. :_|

The patch panels("distribution frames") stem from telephone exchange practice where people were prepared to spend money to get flexibility and reliability.

It would still be a good idea, but it's probably less necessary now, because you will be using Cat6, which is stranded (I think).

If you can afford patch panels, use them. It will make a better job.

Graham L
12-09-2003, 05:54 PM
PS. There are two types of "RJ45" plugs for network cabling. One works with solid conductor cable. One works with stranded cable. They are not interchangeable.