How Do I Choose the Right Fiber Interconnect Box?
When talking about interconnect boxes (also known as enclosures), there are a variety of options that can be used. Often, a common question asked by customers is which box would be best for their application. This is a loaded question that requires some questions and answers to see what will work best for the situation that they have in front of them. There are a number of factors that will have to be addressed to come to a point where we can help to make a recommendation. Where is the interconnect going to be located, along with how many fibers are you going to be putting in the enclosure and if it will need to house fusion splices. Is there a 2 post rack existing or will you have to put that in as well? Does your job have a spec that you need to follow? Specs are written by engineers and sometimes they call out specific manufacturers that can be used for a job. Other specs are open to different manufacturers as long as it covers what is needed for the job or project.
Wall vs. Rack Mount
When talking about interconnects we will discuss the two types that are primarily used in building your network. Not to say there are not other options, we will just be talking about the most common two used. The first one we will discuss is rack mount enclosures. These come is several different sizes and configurations. You can have anywhere from a 1RU (Rack Unit) all the way an 8RU. This is the amount of space that the rack mount will take up in your 2 post rack. So if you have 72 fibers to install and you are using SC 6 pack adapter plates then you would need a 4RU rack that accepts 12 plates. If you were to use duplex SC adapter plates you could use a 2RU rack with 6 adapter plates. Again, this will also depend on what you are looking to do along with if you are splicing in the back. If splicing you want to make sure you have enough room for your fiber management along with splice trays.
Now with wall mounts you have the same idea as rack mounts except now you will need to know how much room you have where it is being installed. So dimensions of the wall mount are important along with how many adapter plates it holds. You will still need to know if you are splicing in it. Fiber count is important, as well as what style connectors you will be using to determine how many adapter plates you will need. Some installers look at cosmetics for both the wall and rack mounts. Interconnects are offered in black and off white and they will be off the shelf items. We do also have the capability of customizing these to different colors as well. When you are customizing there are quantity requirements that need to be met. This not only applies to the enclosures but adapter plates as well. If you have a good size project and would like to customize it all to match it can be done.
When talking enclosures one of the first questions that is asked has to do with how many fibers will you, the customer, be putting into these enclosures. This is a vital part of figuring out what you will need. When designing a system you will typically have a central point that will hold all fibers in one location. This has to have a little bigger rack or wall mount due to having a larger number of fibers. Then what happens is there are several runs of fiber that go out to several different locations that need to be connected. At these locations there is a smaller box that will hold the number of fibers needed for that location. For example, at your central location you have a total of twelve different runs that go to twelve different locations. So at your central point you will need to have an enclosure that will hold a minimum of 144 fibers (12 fibers per run x12 different locations). So for each of your runs of fiber you will need a rack or wall mount enclosure, at the end of the run, that will hold 12 fibers.
When picking out the correct enclosures, a big part of the decision is whether or not splicing will occur in the back of the wall or rack mount. If you are splicing, then this section will apply to your decision. If not, you can skim over this part like most of us do with nutritional facts on the back of food products. Splice trays, like the rack and wall mounts, have several different options that you can choose from. There is the number of splices to consider, which is typically 12 or 24 per tray. There are dimension differences as well that will play in to the decision of which one to choose. Splice trays are one of the last things to consider because you will need the dimensions of the enclosure to choose the correct size splice tray. If you are trying to splice a higher fiber count you will want to try to use the splice tray that can accept more splices per tray. This will help keep the number of splice trays needed down and to make the fiber management look as professional as a man dressed in a tuxedo ready for his wedding.
LGX Style vs. Proprietary
In all interconnect boxes you need adapter plates loaded with mating sleeves that allow you to connect your fibers together. Along with knowing which connector style you are connecting, you will also need to know what style box you are using, especially if you are connecting in a panel that already is in place. There are plates that are “universal” that will fit in multiple manufacturers’ enclosures. One style is known as LGX adapter plates. There are several manufacturers that use this concept allowing for multiple manufacturers’ adapter plates to be interchanged and used with several different manufacturers interconnect boxes. There are other manufacturers that have proprietary adapter plates, meaning you can only use that manufacturers adapter plates with their rack and wall mount enclosures.
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