Q:

What does a networking patch panel do?

A:

Quick Answer

Network patch panels have an array of jacks that let engineers connect different network devices and modify connections as required. Network patch panels connect to incoming and outgoing lines that allow engineers to modify cabling to switches, hubs and other devices without making major changes to wiring.

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Full Answer

Network patch panels include RJ-45 ports mounted on a standard 19-inch network rack mounting. The size of the array can vary from 12 ports to 96 ports. Each port has a number stamped on the mounting plate. Network engineers connect incoming lines to ports on the patch panel. Once wired, the incoming line connects to a network device using a separate cable called a patch cable. As networking needs grow, additional incoming lines can be added and additional network devices added or changed without having to rewire everything.

Network patch panels also can connect incoming wires on one panel to outgoing wires on another, with patch cables providing the needed connections. Patch panels can also be used to connect different devices. One port on a patch panel wired to another port creates a bridge between the ports. One can connect a device attached to one port to a secondary device by changing the patch cord location. Patch panels play a key role in network cable management, particularly in large and complex installations.

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