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Wiring Ethernet Patch Panels

How to Wire Ethernet Patch Panels

When you’re building a network, it’s often ideal to use a patch panel to direct cables and organize long Ethernet runs — especially if they go through walls, floors, and/or ceilings. Patch panels make cable management and network organization very easy over long periods of time, but you’ll need to wire the panels in order to put them into your network.

Not to worry, this guide will walk you through the whole process.

Tools You Will Need

Before you jump into the task, ensure that you have the necessary tools and equipment for the job. To wire a patch panel, you will need patch cables, the patch panel, and a punch-down kit. The punch-down kit should include the following:

  • Cable stripper
  • Wire cutters (often included in the stripper)
  • Cable tester
  • 110 punch-down tool with blade

That’s the full list. If you have everything you need, you’re ready to start wiring the panel.

How to Wire Patch Panels

When it comes to wiring patch panels, you can follow these steps in order:

Check the Panel

The very first thing you want to do is check the patch panel. The standard for cat5 and cat6 patching is a 110-style connection type, but you can get alternative panels. Make sure you are working with the 110 style before you start cutting or stripping wires.

Once you have checked, you can proceed to the next step.

Strip the Cable

If the patch cable has a plastic connection on the end, then go ahead and cut it off. Once you have an unterminated end on the cable, you can strip it.

The wire strippers make this easy. You want to remove one to three inches of the shielding or jacket off of the cable end. In most cases, one inch will be sufficient, but in tight spaces, a little bit of extra stripped cable end can make the process easier. That will be up to you.

Assuming you’re patching multiple cables, strip them one at a time. This will reduce the chance of dirtying or damaging the stripped cable ends.

If you’re using cat6 cables, cut away the plastic part in the middle.

Spread out the Wires

There are four pairs of wires that will be exposed after you strip the cable. You need to untwist each pair so that all eight component wires are easy to see and manipulate. They will be connected to the patch panel individually.

Set the Wires in the Panel

The patch panel has 110 connectors on it already. It’s primed for the individual wires to be placed and secured. You’re going to want to set your cable wires in the appropriate individual slots.

To make sure you’re doing this correctly, you want to follow a colored cable guide. Your punch-down tool kit should include a colored guide. The patch panel should also have a color guide. If neither of those resources works, you can find a color guide for every type of common Ethernet connection here.

You should have extra length in the wires that extend past the 110 connectors on the panel. You will clean this up in the next step, so don’t worry about it.

When you place the individual wires, push on them enough that they are firmly in place. They don’t need to be perfectly secured; that happens in the next step. But, if they are too loose, it will be easy to knock wires out of their slots when you punch everything down.

Punch and Cut

The last step is to punch down each individual wire. Using your tool, punch them one at a time. When you do, the blade on the tool should cut off any excess wire, giving you perfect cable management in the patch panel.

If the tool doesn’t perfectly sever a wire, you can twist it at the puncture point until it breaks free.

Test...Test...Test

Use your cable tester to make sure each cable works. It’s usually easier to do this with each cable as you go, that way you won’t confuse which termination point corresponds with each cable, and you can fix mistakes quickly and easily.

You can also make a cable map as you test so that you will know which port on the panel corresponds with each incoming cable.

And, that’s it. You now have a properly wired patch panel.

Additional Learning Center Resources