Patch panels are network ports held together within telecommunication closets that connect incoming and outgoing local area network (LAN) lines or other communication, electronic and electrical systems. Patch panels within LANs connect network computers to each other and to outside lines, enabling the LANs to connect to the Internet or other wide area networks (WANs). Patch panels permit circuits to be arranged and rearranged by plugging and unplugging respective patch cords.
Patch panels may also be referred to as patch bays.
Techopedia explains Patch Panel
Patch panels are socket groups that manually connect incoming and outgoing lines together in communication and electronic systems, so one end of the panel is plugged into incoming lines, while the other connects to outgoing lines using short patch cables. Wireless patch cables entertain cross-connections by flipping switches. These short patch cables can plug themselves into the fron-side while the back portion holds a longer connection. Hardware is assembled so that circuits of a similar type appear on jacks, providing a flexible way to monitor, interconnect and test the circuits.
Patch panels are used extensively in radio broadcast studios and concert sound re-enforcement systems because of their capability to connect different devices such as electric or electronic equipment, microphones, recording gear and amplifiers. They also make it relatively simple to troubleshoot problems such as ground loops as they group every input jack into a single location. Patch panels also save wear and tear on studio gear input jacks and instruments as all connections are made using the patch panel.
Switching equipments can replace patch panels in some applications, making routing easy and providing other benefits such as routing signals to any number of destinations at the same time.