How to Select the Proper Fiber Optic Enclosure and Mounting Solution
Selecting the proper fiber optic enclosure, whether a rack tray or wall-box, is imperative for reliable fiber optic signal performance and long-term system stability. Enclosures provide protection for fiber optic strands and accessories (such as adapters and couplers), as well as necessary strain-relief and cabling management for excess cable.
This article explores common considerations when choosing the proper enclosure type.
Rack Tray or Wall-Box
Enclosures are available in a variety of formats; the most outwardly visible differentiator is whether it's a wall-box or a rack tray.
Wall-boxes are typically mounted on a flat surface, such as on the outside of a building or at the demarcation point in a data room. Rack trays, on the other hand, are almost always installed in a network, data or audio-visual equipment rack (19" or 23" width).
Both formats are available in a variety of sizes and styles, though rack trays tend to come in larger sizes due to the typically higher number of connection points in an equipment rack.
Indoor or Outdoor
Enclosures are available for both indoor and outdoor applications, and it's important to select the proper product for your installation to ensure a long life for both the enclosure and the components inside.
Indoor wall-boxes, for example, are typically constructed of durable powder-coated metal. The finish and format handle interior environments, but are not designed for outdoor applications.
Outdoor wall-boxes, on the other hand, are typically constructed of UV-rated plastic and feature weather-resistant gaskets. The plastic is durable, though not as durable as metal, and handles a wide fluctuation of temperatures and weather patterns.
Many applications leverage outdoor wall-boxes indoors due to their competitive prices and smaller formats.
Panel Slot or Panel Mount Connections
Fiber optic enclosures support a variety of connection formats, thereby allowing a variety of fiber optic cables and applications. The connections come in two predominant formats: panel slot and panel mount.
Panel slot connections feature multiple connectors on a single plate. They install quickly and are easy to use; however, their flexibility is limited. For example, the smallest typical plate supports six connections, which is overkill if you only require one or two.
Panel mount connections, on the other hand, feature slots for individual connectors. They allow an enclosure to be perfectly customized based on the application, including the quantity and format of connection types. Panel mount enclosures also tend to be less expensive than panel slot enclosures.