Recommendations On Rack-Mount Patch Panels?

Does anyone have recommendations on rack-mount patch panels (CAT6, 24-port)? I'm looking for any particular manufacturer that has reasonable price / quality and - hopefully - also provides an 8-pair single punch tool (like the one mentioned here for Hubbell). Both ICC and Hubbell seem to provide the tool, but their patch panels are $90 for ICC and $150+ for Hubbell - compared to around $30 for "Amazon" brands like Trendnet / CableMatters. Is there really a difference?

Also, what's the best technique for orienting the punch panel when doing the punches? Usually I work from wall-mounted enclosures, so direct back-access isn't possible. I install the panel upside down (with punch block facing out), perform the punches and then rotate. It puts some strain on the cables though... Any other methods?

Thanks.


If your access to the panel is tight, you can do "unloaded" patch panels. Basically these are 24 or 48 keystone style cutouts in a row. You just terminate a regular wall jack and snap it in. I use Leviton jacks and a Fluke Jackrapid tool for this.

Cost for a fully loaded panel are slightly more than a traditional loaded panel, but if you have less than 24 terminations it becomes much cheaper since you can leave the unused spaces empty. The other advantage is that you can color code your panel since keystone jacks come in different colors.

ICC is the low end of what I'd consider acceptable quality. Years ago they were considered junk, but they have stuck around and quality seems to have improved and they offer a warranty program. I'd still prefer something else, but they seem to work.

Hubbell is priced around normal for this sort of thing. Leviton, Ortronics, and other will generally be in that price range. But you'll find some more expensive, as well.

Most of the difference in cheap stuff versus "expensive" is in the quality of the contacts and the ease of use. I've tried cheap gear where the IDC contacts don't hold and punched down wires simply pull out. Or pins in the RJ45 connectors/panels don't last, get stuck and don't spring back, or at worst, simply fall out. After a couple instances of that, the more expensive stuff starts to feel pretty worthwhile.

As far as strain: Are you leaving a slack loop? There should be more than enough slack so that you don't have strain on cables. I typically left 6-10', depending on the install, and then coiled it up and velcro'd it neatly in the back of the rack. So you just punch things down with the panel reversed, flip the panel, then coil slack.

Also, how are you dressing cables into the panel? The old-school tendency is to bring them from the sides and cut them all to length, like this:

Most manufacturers (in my recollection) actually recommend this, though, as it takes strain off cables and allows a little bit of slack for retermination if needed. It also removes less cable jacket and maintains twists better:

Personally, we use Legrand, which I'm quite content with. I've heard good stories about Panduit as well.

Big fan of Panduit mini-com series. We use it almost exclusively. Jacks are a little more expensive, but it will cut your labor hours once your guys get used to them.

Hi All

I'm a novice camera guy, In real life I put in Cabling, lots of cabling

I am a big fan of ICC - both panels and jacks, its all I use

They are a breeze to terminate and the tool for terminating the jack makes it very fast

I have put in literally thousands of them and have yet to get a bad one

When I use ICC jacks and ICC panels I typically get a reading of between 7.5 and 9 DB of headroom (Fluke Certification tester) and have yet to have a problem with a POE phone or access point coming up.

I use the old school method and have a service loop to the floor plus a couple feet so I can sit down, get comfortable and go to work

I also like the fact that they come in a 25 pack so there is no trash to deal with

I get mine at ADI at a pretty reasonable price

Hope this helps

Sonny: That's great to hear that you've had good luck with ICC. I have used the ICC jacks (and single-punch tool) and I've had good success. I decided to standardize on their products and just placed a large order with Anixter...including their patch panels. Also great point on making the loop large enough to work on from the floor...

Also - have you used the ICC 4-pair punch tool for their patch panels? Is it worth it?

Thanks again.

Hi Brian

you would have probably got a better price at ADI

As far as the 4 pair punch down tool AKA "The Slammer"

I use it to seat and punch C4 clips onto 110 blocks, in my opinion it feels to powerful for a patch panel , but the one for the jacks is definitely worth it.

Also when i'm terminating a 48 port panel I tend to think about other things since its so repetitive and punching one wire at a time gives me one more opportunity to make sure they are in the right order.

I always felt like I was going to break a patch panel when using the slammer. But never did. I preferred having the panel face down on a solid, but slightly padded surface, like a desk with cardboard on top or a carpeted floor. It made it seem a bit safer, at least in my head.