A patch panel is an in-line series of connections mounted onto a frame to enable network cables to be terminated in an orderly manner. Typically, the panel is the termination point of network cabling drops that are installed in a office or residential cabling system.It is numbered and comes in 12-port, 24-port, 48-port and 96-port configurations. The numbering of the panel ports allows for the network installer to label the wallplates to match the corresponding connection at the patch panel.
Patch panels are most commonly used for computer data networks but as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone systems become more common, we are seeing phone systems being terminated into panels. They are wall or rack-mounted. In small offices, a 12 or 24-port patch panel might be wall-mounted to a wooden mounting board. Larger office networks will usually require a rack mounted series of panels.
The patch panel comes in Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 types to match the cable being installed. The connections on the panel are RJ45 that are designed to allow for a cable to "punch-downed" into the connector. The connector has 8 punch down points to accommodate the 4-pairs of wires in a Cat5/6 cable.