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Patch cables, also known as patch leads or patch cords, are cables that connect one electronic or optical device with others - normally for signal routing purposes. It is commonplace for a variety of devices to be patched together to make a network.  

Devices that are often patched together include computer systems (such as home PCs or office networks), television/AV setups, audio setups (such as DJ equipment or theatre sound), lighting equipment (such as theatre lighting), and telephone systems.  

Patch leads always have connectors on both ends and are more flexible than your standard cable.  


There are many different kinds of patch leads. Some have multiple uses and some have very specific functions. Here are the most common kinds of patch leads. 

1) CAT5/CAT5e Ethernet cables 

These cables are probably the most common type of patch cables and the ones you are most likely to come across in everyday life. They are used to link a computer to a switch, a hub or a router. They can also be used to link a switch to a router, and so on.  

Ethernet patch cables are helpful to those building home computer networks. Unlike general Ethernet cables, they are normally quite short.  

Ethernet patch cables can also be called LAN patch cables. Although CAT5 and CAT5e are the most common kinds, you can also get CAT6a and CAT6. Network speeds can be very fast but if you pick the wrong cable this can slow everything down, so be careful to buy the right one! 

2) Crossover cable 

This is a specific type of Ethernet patch lead that connects two computers to each other. 

3) Fibre optic patch cables  

Fibre optic patch leads come in two types - single mode or multimode. They have fibre optic terminals at each end and their pre-terminated connectors mean they are easy to connect to CATV, switch, or other forms of telecommunications equipment.  

Normally they connect several pieces of equipment like an optical transmitter and receiver, and they often lead into a terminal box.  

4) TRS patch cables  

If you plan to patch audio equipment into a patch bay or similar, then you will need TRS (tip ring sleeve) patch cables. These will carry balanced or unbalanced audio as required and can also carry phantom power to things like microphones.  

5) Other patch cables 

If you are dealing with architectural lighting or stage lighting and it isn't hard-patched, then you will need patch leads. Furthermore, non-networking patch cables may also be used for RCA connectors, XLR connectors, headphone extensions, microphone leads, and TRS phone connectors, among other things. 

If you are looking to buy patch leads for any reason then please get in touch. We have a wide selection to meet your needs.