What is Fiber Optic Pigtail?

By Sony T
6 Min Read
What is Fiber Optic Pigtail? 1

In fiber optic cable installation, the network’s success depends on how the cables are attached to the system. When done correctly, optical signals can easily move through the linked cables with a low risk of power loss. Fiber optic pigtail is the preferred way to join optical fiber and is used in 99% of single-mode applications. (source)


About Fiber Optic Pigtail

A fiber optic pigtail is a fiber optic cable that has a factory-installed connector on one end. As a result, one side can be melted with optical fiber cables, while the side where the connector is attached can be linked to various pieces of equipment. Mechanical splicing or fusion is used to terminate fiber optic cables with a pigtail. To get the best possible performance, high-quality pigtail cables are used along with correct fusion splicing practices. Pigtails are often found in fiber optics management equipment such as distribution boxes, fiber terminal boxes, and ODF. Since the connector end is attached in the factory, fiber pigtail tends to be better quality compared to field-terminated cables.

What’s the Difference Between Pigtails and Patch Cords?

A fiber optic pigtail has one end left empty with a fiber connector installed on the other. On the other hand, both ends of a fiber patch cord will be terminated with a fiber optic connector for each. Patch cord cables are also typically jacketed, while conversely, fiber pigtail cables usually come unjacketed since they tend to be spliced and protected in a splice tray. It is possible to cut a patch cord into two pieces to make two fiber pigtails, which is a preferred method for some installers who want to avoid the problem of testing pigtail cables in the field since it is easier to test the performance of a fiber patch.

Types of Fiber Optic Pigtail

There are various types of fiber optic pigtails available. These are grouped by either connector type, fiber type, fiber count, or application environment.

Connector Types

There are different types of fiber optic pigtail connectors where the cable is terminated at the end. The most common options are LC, SC, ST, FC, MT-RJ, and E2000 fiber pigtails. Each of them has different structures and appearances, with their own advantages in various systems and applications.

  • SC Fiber Optic Pigtail: This is a non-optical disconnect connector with either a stainless alloy or a zirconia 2.5mm ferrule. It is an economical choice for use in a wide range of applications.
  • ST Fiber Optic Pigtail: This is the most popular connector used for multimode installations and applications, with a long ferrule made of plastic, stainless alloy, or zirconia with a 2.5mm diameter. This type of pigtail connector is most commonly seen used in medical, sensor, industry, and telecommunications.
  • FC Fiber Optic Pigtail: This type uses metallic optical connections with high-precision ceramic ferrules. They are widely used in various general applications.

Fiber Types

Fiber optic pigtails can be divided into two different types: Single-mode and multimode. Single-mode fiber is typically yellow, while multimode is usually orange. Multimode fiber optic pigtails are terminated with multimode fiber optic connectors at one end and use 62.5/125-micron or 50/125-micron bulk multimode cables.

Fiber Count

Fiber optic pigtails come in a range of fiber counts, with 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, and 48 stand fiber counts available. A simplex fiber pigtail is available in one fiber and a connector on one end, while a duplex fiber optic pigtail offers two fibers and two connectors on the end. To mark polarity, each fiber is either marked with A or B, or different connector boot colors are used.

Application Environment

Some fiber optic pigtails are specifically designed and installed to withstand extreme or harsh weather or environments. These fiber pigtail options are typically either waterproof or armored.

  • Waterproof fiber optic pigtail: This is designed with a stainless-steel, waterproof unit, and a jacket made from armored outdoor polyethylene. It is a common choice for a wide range of harsh outdoor environments including military bases, communication towers, and more. They offer a good level of toughness and reliable, tensile performance.
  • Armored fiber optic pigtail: These pigtails are enclosed with a strong steel tube, such as stainless steel, inside the outer jacket. They provide an extra level of protection for the fiber inside and improve reliability for the network. Armored cables are the ideal choice for environments where there is the risk of damage from construction work or rodents, and for high-cable areas to protect against the weight of other cables.

Fiber optic pigtails are used to splice with the fiber in order to connect them with various types of equipment or patch panels. They provide a reliable, feasible solution for effective fiber cable termination with a range of types available for almost any type of application or use. As a result, they are key for saving both operating costs and labor time for installers.

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By Sony T
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