Every modern company needs an impeccable computer network and internet connection. While you could have a good connection with copper cables, there’s really nothing better than fiber optic cables. Remember that copper cables transfer information through electrical currents. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with copper cables and they’re the still the standard for many, there are some downfalls. Most notably, the fact that copper cables are susceptible to interference from radio-signals, and so forth. To avoid interference and boost the network’s overall bandwidth and speeds, you should install fiber optic cables. Fiber optics transfer information with pulses of light that reflect off of small tubes of glass (in a very general sense). A few results of using fiber optic cables are eliminated interference and increased performance. What a lot of people don’t know about fiber optic cables, however, is how to install them properly. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. We put together a comprehensive guide discussing the best practices for fiber optic cable installation; read on to learn more.
Determine How Much Cable Is Necessary
Probably the most basic step of all that so many people miss is measuring their facility. You don’t want to be in the middle of installing your cables only to realize you didn’t order enough or far too much. Granted, you do want to order extra lengths because you don’t want the cables to be like a tight rope; there should be some slack. Additionally, most scenarios will require cables in a multitude of directions that require additional cable. For instance, most buildings probably aren’t lucky enough to have all their connection points in a linear direction. You may have to install the cables around corners and partially vertically, both of which can reduce the amount of cable you thought you had. Measure twice; install once.
Develop a Port Map
If you’re installing the cables yourself, you should have a detailed port map. And if you’re hiring someone else to install the cables, they’ll still ask for a port map. A port map acts as your inventory sheet and installation guidelines. The basic components of a port map include the name of each port and what it connects to, the location of network cabinets, patch panels, and additional hardware. There are two primary reasons you want a port map: reference and efficiency. Having a detailed map of your cabling and hardware will make installation much faster. Additionally, you can reference the map in the event of network issues and when you must identify which cable connects to which node or server, and so forth.
Abide by the Cable’s Tensile and Pull Load Rating
Each fiber optic cable is rated for specific pull loads and tension capability; it’s imperative that you follow those ratings. Like we briefly mentioned earlier, your cable isn’t meant to be a tight rope. The tensile rating will help you prevent putting unnecessary tension on the cable and potentially breaking the cable or the fibers. Of course, ensuring you have enough slack will also prevent breaking and unnecessary tension. Moreover, many companies must pull their cables throughout the building with cable pullers and conduit. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to damage your cables when pulling the cable. You should always use a load monitor when pulling fiber optic cables to ensure you’re staying under the cable’s pull load rating. Failure to follow the ratings could result in torn cables or broken fibers.
Reduce the Distance and Pull Lengths When Possible
Although fiber optic cables are suitable in short, medium, and long-range scenarios, you should run cables the shortest distance when possible. There are two reasons you want to reduce the distance. First, the shorter the cable distance, the faster the signal and information transfers. Moreover, a shorter cable run allows you to reduce the pull length which also minimizes your chances of breaking the cable. Anytime you’re pulling the cable long distances, you should ensure you’re using fiber optic lubricant to avoid any snags or pulls. Like we briefly mentioned before, some scenarios will require you to run the cable vertically. There’s nothing integrally wrong with running and pulling fiber optic cables vertically—you merely need to ensure you’re following the vertical rise limit of the cable you have. If you don’t abide by the rise limit—like any other instructions with fiber optic cables—you could potentially break the cable.
Never Pinch, Twist, or Bend Fiber Optic Cables
Many people don’t realize how small the fibers in a fiber optic cable truly are. To put it into perspective, optical fibers are as thin as a human hair and typically made of glass or plastic; in other words, they can be fragile. When handling fiber optic cables, you should never pinch the cable jacket to eliminate the possibility of broken fibers. Similarly, you shouldn’t twist fiber optic cables for the same reason. Finally, you’ll probably need to run your cable around a corner or bend of some sort; it’s vital that you know your cable’s permitted bend radius.
Practice Cable Management During Installation
Finally, because fiber optic cables are generally thinner than copper cables, cable management is that much more important. There are dozens of guides you could follow to help you organize your fiber optic cable setup. Part of that organization begins with your port map, from there you can familiarize yourself with zip ties and Velcro and keep the cables safely out of harm’s way.
Fiber optic technology is among the most reliable options available today. Like all network technology, fiber optics are always evolving, but the best practices for fiber optic cable installation remain constant. Now that you know how to install fiber optic cables properly, you can protect your investment by knowing your cable’s ratings and avoiding the common mistakes we discussed. For the best network results, you should always ensure you’re using quality cables. It’s tempting to purchase the cheapest ones you can find, but you get what you pay for when it comes to fiber optic technology.
At CableWholesale, our team understands how vital quality is, and that’s why we only use the best materials available in all our products. Whether you’re looking for general fiber optic cables or a 1000ft. Cat5e cable, you can count on quality when you shop with CableWholesale. Give us a call if you have any questions or check out the large inventory on our website today. Don’t forget to take advantage of our free technical assistance when you begin installation.