Labeling cables can save a lot of money and headaches. While it is easy to overlook, taking time to label runs during installation significantly speeds up troubleshooting and maintenance.
In this guide, we examine this practice and the ways that it is accomplished and then analyze the financial case for making it a part of every cable job.
- What should I label?
- What should be on each label?
- Labeling methods
- Machine printing labels demonstrated (video screencast)
- Inkjet/laserjet labels demonstrated (video screencast)
- Pre-printed labels
- Why not handwritten labels?
- Cost/benefit analysis in installation/troubleshooting
- Related standards
This continues our network cable installation for IP cameras series and builds towards our upcoming Video Surveillance Installation Course.
Readers should also see our other installation training guides:
What To Label
The question of what should or should not be labeled is mainly left up to preference or best practice since codes typically do not require devices/ cables to be labeled. Additionally, labeling is often written in bid specifications, with varying degrees of information required.
At a minimum, it is generally recommended that cables be labeled at both ends, generally at the camera and on the patch panel. In small systems, this may be as simple as a single digit numeral (such as "8" to indicate port 8) to indicate which port the cable terminates in at the head end.
In more complex systems, users may label every device (camera, jack, patch panel, installed cable, and patch cable) but this is normally only required in large systems with demanding bid specs.
Many IP surveillance/security systems will fall somewhere in between.
How much information should be included in a label depends on the system. Common items include wire number, port or device termination ID, and IDF location.
For example, many label each cable with the following information:
IDF/MDF Room Number — Patch Panel Identifier — Port Number
So a cable serving a camera in a hallway in the C wing of a school may be labeled:
C110–B-37 (Room C110, Patch Panel B, Port 37)
If a label is a composite of several pieces of data, then a legend explaining the nomenclature used should be hung at access points and MDF/IDF locations.
There are several ways of labeling cables, varying in usability, legibility, and professionalism: