What are the Best Tips for Fiber-Optic Installation?

T. L. Childree

Fiber-optic installation can usually enhance the performance of electronic equipment, and there are a few tips that may help prevent common mistakes. Always select the correct type and length of cable for fiber-optic installation. Choose fiber-optic cables with a rigid outer coating to prevent damage from kinking. All connectors should be gold-plated and spring-loaded for best results. Check packaging carefully to ensure that fiber-optic components comply with all performance and safety regulations.

Choosing cables with a tough outside coating can help prevent damage to the cables and prepare them for extended use.
Choosing cables with a tough outside coating can help prevent damage to the cables and prepare them for extended use.

The correct type of fiber-optic cable must be used for electronic equipment to perform effectively. These cables typically contain different numbers of fibers for various purposes. Fiber-optic installation cables are usually referred to as single-mode and multi-mode. Each piece of electronic equipment has its own operating mode, and cables must be specifically designed for this purpose. Single-mode cables may be converted to multi-mode by adding additional fibers to the existing piece.

A fiber-optic patch panel allows cross connections.
A fiber-optic patch panel allows cross connections.

Fiber-optic installation often requires cables to be run along baseboards, above ceilings, over doorways, and under carpeting. It is important to purchase cables long enough to reach their destination without being stretched too tightly. Stretching these cables may cause damage to the delicate fibers within them. It is typically less expensive to purchase extra length than to replace a damaged cable. Always remember to disconnect fiber-optic installation cables before moving electronic equipment.

Fiber-optic installation often requires cables to be run along baseboards, under carpeting and over doorways.
Fiber-optic installation often requires cables to be run along baseboards, under carpeting and over doorways.

Optical fibers are very fragile and great care should be taken when handling them. It is important to choose cables with a rigid outer coating to prevent damage caused by twisting and kinking. These cables can sometimes be stepped on, and a thick outer coating may prevent them from being crushed. Some fiber-optic installation cables contain a stiff inner wire to prevent sharp bends, but caution must still be exercised when handling them. Fiber-optic cables should also have sturdy grips to prevent the outer coating from separating during disconnection.

The material used for fiber-optic installation connectors can greatly affect the performance of electronic equipment. For optimum performance, choose connectors with gold-plating. These connectors are typically more expensive, but gold-plating may significantly improve signal quality. It is also a good idea to choose spring loaded connectors for delicate fiber-optics. Spring-loaded connectors allow fiber-optic cables to be connected with minimal force.

Materials used in fiber-optic installation must be laboratory certified for safety and performance to avoid damage to costly electronic equipment. Many fiber-optic components undergo safety and performance testing by independent laboratories, and a certification seal is typically awarded to qualified products. This certification seal should appear on the packaging as well as the components themselves. Less-expensive, non-certified components are also available, but should generally be avoided.

Fiber optic installation often requires cables to be run along baseboards and down walls.
Fiber optic installation often requires cables to be run along baseboards and down walls.

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