In networking, patch cables play a central role in establishing connections across various devices. You can use patch cables on computers, routers, switches, or telephone devices. Although some people may consider patch cables and Ethernet cables to mean the same thing, they're different.
Patch cables differ based on type and usage. Read on to learn more about patch cables and how they differ from Ethernet cables.
What Is a Patch Cable?
A patch cable is a cabling technique that connects two devices on a network to each other. You can use a patch cable to establish connections between network hubs, switches, routers, computers, telephone devices, etc. In addition to network transmission, you can use a patch cable to transmit audio, video, and telephone signals across non-network devices like microphones and headphones.
A patch cable significantly differs from other regular cables since it's more flexible and less bulky. You can obtain a path cable from different cable types, including UTP, STP, coaxial, or fiber cables. You can use a patch cable to establish short-distance connections between devices, enabling faster communication and data transmission.
The cable transmits signals using a shielded core wire. Surrounding the core wire is a wire mesh that enables ground loop connections and electrical grounding. The patch cable has connectors at both ends that allow you to plug in the power cord and successfully transmit signals.
Types of Patch Cables and Their Uses
Patch cables come in different forms, including the following:
- FC Patch Cable
- LC Patch Cord
- SC Patch Cord
- ST Patch Cable
- Copper Patch Cable
- MT-RJ Fiber Optic Patch Cord
1. FC Patch Cable
FC (ferrule connector) patch cable comes with a high-precision connector coupled with anti-rotation keys to minimize damage to the fiber. You can use this patch cable in environments that require high communication links.
2. LC Patch Cord
The LC (Lucent Connector) patch cable is used on single-mode applications, e.g., pluggable transceivers. It got designed as a replacement for SC connectors due to its small size.
3. SC Patch Cord
The SC patch cord shields fiber from damage due to its thick outer body. This cable is efficient and cost-effective, and you'll mainly use it on fiber optic networks.
4. ST Patch Cable
This patch cable has a spring-loaded ferrule to protect it from unnecessary damage. It's used during field and indoor LAN activities since it supports voice, data, and video services.
5. Copper Patch Cable
This cable is used in most networking activities because of its strength, thermal expansion, and corrosion resistance. It's mostly applicable when setting up local area networks.
6. MT-RJ Fiber Optic Patch Cord
The MT-RJ fiber optic patch cord comes in two categories: pinned and unpinned. The pinned and unpinned categories are joined to enable the transmission of data on a network.
Patch Cable vs. Ethernet Cable: What Is the Difference?
Ethernet cables aren't the same as patch cables. While patch cables have connectors at both ends, Ethernet cables don't. Here's a table showing more differences between a patch cable vs. an Ethernet cable.
|Patch Cable||Ethernet Cable|
|-Used for connecting switches or routers in a patch panel over short distances||-Mainly used for long-distance device connections|
|-Is shorter than an Ethernet cable||-It's longer than a patch cable and covers long distances|
|-Has connectors at both ends||-It's not compulsory for it to have connectors at both ends since it terminates directly on a connected device|
|-Has a stranded structure to enhance its flexibility||-Is not stranded since it's used for long distances|
|-Prone to signal loss (attenuation)||-Is not prone to signal loss|
|-Comes in different types such as FC patch cables, LC patch cords, SC patch cords, ST patch cables, Copper patch cables, MT-RJ fiber optic patch cords, etc.||-Exists in different categories such as CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, etc.|
The distinguishing factor in patch cables is their connectors on both ends. Also, unlike the Ethernet cable, a patch cable is used for short-distance connections on a network. You can use a patch cable to connect network hubs, switches, routers, computers, telephone devices, etc. These cables also come in different types, including:
- FC patch cables
- LC patch cords
- SC patch cords
- ST patch cables
- Copper patch cables, and
- MT-RJ fiber optic patch cords
Below are some of the commonly asked questions about patch cables.
1. What Is a Standard Patch Cable?
A standard patch cable is used to connect two devices on a network. You can use it to establish a connection between computers, network hubs, switches, or routers in a given network. A standard patch cable is shorter than an Ethernet cable and is mainly used for in-office connections.
2. Are All Patch Cables the Same?
No, patch cables differ based on their usage. The different types of patch cables include FC patch cables, LC patch cords, SC patch cords, ST patch cables, Copper patch cables, and MT-RJ fiber optic patch cords. These patch cables differ based on size, usability, cable structure, etc.
3. When Should I Use a Patch Cable?
You can use a patch cable to connect networking equipment, such as network hubs, switches, routers, computers, etc., to each other. A patch cable is mainly applicable for short-distance connections.
4. Can I Use Patch Cable as an Ethernet Cable?
Yes, you can use a patch cable as an Ethernet cable under some scenarios. Since they both serve the same purpose, you can use a patch cable instead of an Ethernet cable when you don't have one. However, it's important to remember that patch cables are only meant for short-distance connections. In the event of a long-distance connection, they won't be applicable.
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Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.
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