Fan Out Kits and Breakout Kits: Building Up Optical Fibers
One of the most common installation questions we get is whether a fan out kit or a breakout kit is required. It’s a good question, and, as per usual, the answer depends on the installation requirements.
What are fan out and breakout kits, and what do they do?
Fan out and breakout kits give additional protection to 250 µm optical fibers. Each kit consists of a group of color-coded plastic buffer tubing, with each tube designed to hold a single fiber.
Installing a fan out or breakout kit allows you to build exposed optical fibers back up to a higher outer diameter. This is often important when working with high strand count, compact cables, such as Micro Distribution. Micro Distribution cables hold multiple fibers within an overall jacket. In order to be terminated in this configuration, the 250 µm optical fibers must be exposed between the boot of the connector and the edge of the jacket. (Otherwise it’s physically impossible to get the connector on!) Installing a fan out or breakout kit provides additional protection to those exposed fibers.
A fan out or breakout kit is not required when working with simplex, duplex, or breakout style cables. All these cable styles allow direct contact between the boot of the connector and the cable’s protective jacket or subunit.
What’s the difference?
As always, terminology may vary by manufacturer. In the case of SSF™ fan out and breakout kits:
Fan out kits build 250 µm fibers up to 900 µm. Kits consist of color-coded buffer tubes with a snap-together housing. The housing connects to the jacketed part of the cable. Kits are available with 4, 6, or 12 tubes.
Spider Breakout Kits build 250 µm fibers up to 3.0 mm (the same diameter as our simplex cable). Kits consist of color-coded buffer tubes with a plastic housing, plus grommet-based strain relief. Each tube also contains aramid yarns (Kevlar®) for additional durability. Kits are available with 6 or 12 tubes.
When do I actually need a fan out or breakout kit?
Everyone’s favorite answer: it depends. As a rule of thumb, we recommend a fan out kit in situations when optical fibers will be exposed and have potential to be accessed repeatedly.
However, when working with SSF™ fiber, the exposed 250 µm fibers will still have the integral polymer coating at the glass level. This gives additional strength and durability, which may make a fan out kit less necessary in certain situations. If working with traditional fiber, however, install a fan out or breakout kit if optical fibers are going to be exposed and accessible.
For reference, here are some common scenarios in which you might consider a fan out kit.
Terminating Fiber to a Wall Plate
Completely up to you. If you terminate SSF™ fibers on the 250 µm soft peel coating and plug into a keystone, you should have no issues with fiber left behind in the wall. If you are uncomfortable or think additional wires may be pulled in the wall behind the plate, install either type of kit.
Terminating Fiber through a Cable Pass-Through Plate
We would highly recommend installing either a fan out or breakout kit. The cable will be exposed and typically directly connected to a device, so it’s better to add some extra protection.
Terminating Fiber in an Equipment Rack
Again, we would highly recommend either a fan out or breakout kit. The cable will be exposed and typically directly connected to a device.
Terminating in a Fiber Tray in Equipment Rack
Most fiber trays are enclosed and do not allow access to the 250 µm fibers after termination. Therefore, a 900 µm or 3.0 mm kit is not required.
Terminating Fiber in Surface Mount Can/Enclosure
Just like terminating in a fiber tray in an equipment rack, most fiber trays are enclosed and do not allow access to the 250 µm fibers after they are terminated. Therefore, a 900 µm or 3.0 mm kit is not required. If, however, you are using a generic wall enclosure or the fiber is easily accessible by others, we would recommend using a 900 µm or 3.0 mm kit.