The number of fiber ports and fiber links being deployed in data centers today is increasing, along with the growing trend of using pre-terminated fiber solutions.
Protecting fiber ports with a dust cap or shutter device may lessen contamination and prevent damage to connectors, but their main purpose is to provide eye safety to people working on and around fiber ports.
Do Fiber Ports Need Shutters?
Single-mode fiber produces high power levels, which translates to more eye safety concerns as compared to multimode fiber. The sum of individual wavelengths can be very powerful, and potentially dangerous to your eyes. (Belden doesn’t recommend looking directly into any port – you never know what you’ll find connected at the other end.)
Shutters and protective caps block the light from fiber ports, ensuring eye safety. Unused ports should also be capped to prevent light from escaping. Keep in mind, however, that ports aren’t designed to keep all dust out; even with the use of shutters, ports still require regular cleaning.
Port Protection Options
There are some notable differences when comparing the types of protection available for fiber ports.
Although protective caps are sometimes called “dust caps,” they don’t prevent dust from entering the port. In fact, they may contribute to dust collection within the port.
Included with most ports when shipped from the factory, protective caps are inserted directly into the port to keep it free of debris during handling. Because caps need to be removed in order to use ports, they’re commonly lost as moves, adds and changes occur.
Translucent caps are also available. When used with a standard visual fault locator (VFL), these caps glow. This offers a convenient way to trace fiber in a patch panel.
Operating via a spring-actuated flap, external shutters are manually opened with one hand while the other hand inserts the connector.
External shutters are best used in lower-density applications; the flaps may get in the way of other usable ports when they’re open and the connector is inserted.
Via a small metal spring flap inside the adapter housing, internal shutters function in response to receiving a connector. Once a connector is inserted, the shutter opens automatically. If the connector is removed, the shutter closes automatically. All of this occurs without the need to touch the connector end-face.
Unlike external shutters, internal shutters allow you to achieve the density of a traditional adapter; because the shutter is located inside the adapter housing, it doesn’t block neighboring usable ports.
Protective caps are included on all Belden products. Shutters aren’t necessary for widespread application, so they are not included standard on Belden products (doing this would also drive up costs). But shutters are useful in certain situations.
Because single-mode (SM) ports usually deal with higher power levels, eye safety may be a greater concern. Using shutters in single-mode ports is highly recommended. All of Belden’s FX UHD products include internal shutters.
When dealing with multimode ports, which typically offer lower laser power levels, shutters may be overkill. (Despite the lower laser power, you should still avoid looking in to any port.) For this reason, Belden’s FX UHD products do not include shutters; they are, however, available as an option.
Learn more about Belden’s FX UHD products, and the shutter options available, here. Or schedule a call with one of our data center experts!
Dwayne Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in the datacomm industry. He has served on several international standards committees to advance high-performance/low-latency protocols (such as IEEE-1394, GigE Vision and CameraLink) used in real-time image processing and utilizing high-performance computing platforms.