The Importance of Patch Panels in Local Area Networks

A patch panel is a piece of hardware equipment that is used in local area networks (LAN) to organize incoming and outgoing cables. It keeps LANs highly efficient and easy to maintain. On a patch panel, you will find ports in various numbers which are used to connect the incoming and outgoing cables.

You need to have a patch panel because the cables in your network can get tangled. And it is a painstaking task to manage them individually. Particularly, networking cables, because they are long and often too many in numbers. For example, if you have a Cat6 ethernet network, without a Cat6 patch panel, you are going to get pretty worked up with the hassle of untangling them for running maintenance.

This essential piece of tech comes in different sizes and shapes for ethernet cables as well as other networking cables. The difference in the design of the patch panels is based on the wire gauge. For instance, the wire gauge of Cat6 cables is 23 AWG (American Wire Gauge) and the wire gauge of Cat6a cables is 24AWG. That is why both of these cables need different patch panels specifically tailored to their AWG.

Blank Patch Panel

Blank patch panels, also known as unloaded patch panels offer you the option of installing Keystone jacks of your own choice. Meaning, it doesn't come with preinstalled RJ 45 keystone jacks and you can choose the brand of the jack of your liking.

They are easy to install and provide flexible options. You can terminate different types of cables in a blank patch panel by installing the specific connectors.

Loaded Patch Panel

Loaded patch panels come with preinstalled RJ 45 keystone jacks. The loaded patch panels are available in 12, 24, and 48 ports. The benefit of getting a loaded patch panel is that you save time and energy on installing the jacks. Unlike, a blank patch panel which requires all jacks to be installed one by one.

However, there is one big downside of loaded patch panels. Because the jacks on the panel are permanently loaded, if one of them goes bad, it can’t be fixed. But on an unloaded or a blank patch panel, you can always swap the dysfunctional jacks with new functional ones.

Cat6 patch panel

Cat6 patch panels come with both loaded and blank options. The number of ports is also multiple on cat6 patch panels - 12, 24, and 48. They can be mounted on both walls and racks.

These patch panels meet the category 6 ethernet specifications (TIA 568-C.2 and ISO/IEC 11801) and provide a reliable and fast connection. Installing the Cat6 patch panels is easy and if you are a networking engineer, it is almost effortless.

However, the blank patch panels are a bit more work as compared to the loaded ones. But on the brighter side, they are flexible and provide you with more convenient options.

Cat6a patch panel

Cat6a patch panels come with 12, 24, and 48 ports. They are available in both loaded and unloaded types. The structure of the Cat6a patch panels is made of steel and they are a durable and extremely handy piece of technology equipment for LANs - big or small.

These patch panels support all cat6 and below ethernet applications such as fast Ethernet and Copper Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T). Both loaded and unloaded/blank Cat6 patch panels meet the ANSI/EIA/TIA 568-B.2-1 and ISO/IEC 11801 Standards and therefore, you can easily rely on them for high-speed and efficient connections.

Expert advice: Blank patch panels last longer than loaded patch panels due to the added convenience of swapping damaged keystone jacks with new ones. Therefore, the expert advice for buying patch panels is to buy the blank ones. They will last longer and you can install the connectors of your preference.


Patch panels are a piece of handy equipment that keeps all of your LAN cables tidy. It is essential to have one whether you have a small network or big. Because it keeps your network tidy and can significantly enhance the reliability of your network. Maintaining the network cables is easier when you have a panel installed in your server room. They are available in different sizes to cater to all LAN sizes.

Smartech cables are well known in the networking industry for designing and manufacturing patch panels that are extremely efficient at keeping the signals flowing and durable for long-term application. We also offer free shipping on orders above $99 and 15-days free returns (Terms and Conditions apply) on all of our products.