Not that long ago, the only things that needed a wired connection in your home were your computers and maybe your media server. Today, things are different. You may want to have wired connections to your TVs, gaming consoles, computers, and in some cases, even your kitchen appliances. With so many devices requiring a wired connection for the best performance, this brings up the question: do you need a patch panel for your home network?
For most three or four-bedroom homes, you do not need a patch panel. Having a patch panel for your average home might seem unnecessary; however, just because you do not need a patch panel for your home network, does not mean you shouldn’t get one. Having a patch panel can streamline your home network.
In today’s article, we will focus on the pros and cons of having a patch panel in your home network. While that will be the meat of this article, we also want to discuss the difference between a switch and a patch panel. Finally, we also want to discuss whether you need a patch panel or if a regular switch will suffice.
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The Difference between a Patch Panel and a Switch
With a network switch, you will run long cables from the switch into every room that you wish to have a wired connection. This means if there is a problem with a port or cable, you have to do a lot of work to troubleshoot that problem. While a patch panel applies the same concept, it is a bit different from a switch.
With a patch panel, you run a cable from every room of your home to the patch panel. Those cables are then punched into the back of the panel. Ideally, you would never see those cables again because they run through the walls of your home or even the roof. You then have small patch cables that go from your panel to a switch and then to your modem.
If there is a problem, you only have to troubleshoot a small patch cable and individual ports. Many people say that a patch panel is merely a cable management system, but it is much more than that when you have to maintain your network.
Do you need a patch panel or just a switch?
We get asked this question a lot, and it has made us want to clarify something. A patch panel does not replace a network switch. A patch panel is added to the network to improve organization and network management. With all of that being said, let’s answer whether or not you need a patch panel.
The answer to this question is a lengthy one. We need to consider your situation and how many variables come into play. The short answer is that you do not need a patch panel for the average size home network. A patch panel is best used for business networks. However, for a clean network setup, a patch panel is advisable.
If you have a large home, then a patch panel can offer a lot of benefits. It means you can easily manage the cables that run through your walls or your ceiling. Let’s say you have four bedrooms, and you want them to all be permanently connected with a wired connection, including devices in your kitchen, living area, and other parts of your home.
The number of cables you have running to your switch will be incredible. In this case, it would be best if you got a patch panel.
Where Would A Patch Panel Go In Your Home Network?
A patch panel should be as close as possible to your modem/router and server. Now, every network is different. We cannot account for how yours is done. So, before you even consider getting a patch panel, you want to assess the way your network is set up.
All the cables that go to its location of your home will run through your walls or roof. So, try and assess how you will get all the wires to the panel, into your wall, and into the individual areas of your home.
Pros and Cons of a Patch Panel
Below is a table that highlights a few pros and cons. We will discuss these in more detail, but if you are in a rush, it is advisable to bookmark this page and keep the table as a reference.
|Organization||Requires Professional Knowledge|
|Connect More Devices|
PROS of Having a Patch Panel in Your Home Network
Let’s discuss the pros in more detail.
- Convenience: Setting up a patch panel in your home can add convenience to your network, especially if the patch panel is installed correctly.
- Organization: Again, the patch panel needs to be installed correctly, and a good technician will label everything for you. Having a managed network contributes to all the other pros in the section, such as convenience, maintenance, and reduced clutter.
- Reduced clutter: For many people, the amount of wires and clutter they accumulate daily is quite significant. With a patch panel, a good technician will make sure that your cabling is neat and tidy.
- Connect more devices: The amount of devices that you can connect to a patch panel is far beyond the 24 ports that you get. For example, one port can be dedicated to one room. In that room, you can connect a switch that plugs into the wall socket. The switch then gives that room an extra four or five ports for their devices.
- Easier Maintenance: Now, if you have networking knowledge, you can maintain your patch panel yourself. Most of the maintenance will be done on the patch cables instead of your main cables. If one room is experiencing problems, all you have to do is maintain the patch cables in that room or on the port. You won’t have to pull cables out from your ceiling or walls.
CONS of Having a Patch Panel in Your Home Network
- Added Expense: Patch panels can be expensive. This is the main reason why most home networks do not have one, and it is a significant contributing factor as to why patch panels might not be worth it for a home network. If you do not have enough working networking knowledge, you would have to get a technician who can significantly increase the entire setup cost.
- Requires professional knowledge: You can find a lot of DIY patch panel setups on the internet. However, if you do not have enough networking knowledge, chances are you will have to call a professional. Maintaining the setup will be easier than setting it up. So, hopefully, you learn how to maintain the setup yourself. Doing this can save you money down the line.
Whether or not you get a patch panel depends entirely upon you and your needs. If you want a neat network that is easy to maintain and don’t mind the cost of setting one up, then I would say it is entirely worth it. However, if you can’t get one, don’t feel like you are missing out on anything. Remember, a patch panel is not needed in most homes.