Power Meters

An OPM, short for optical power meter, is an instrument operated to define the amount of power in the light of a fiber optic signal. Power meters are mainly used to measure the power in fiber optic cables or systems. Fiber optic systems are made of thin, cost-effective, transparent fibers which allow for the dissemination of data at high speeds. A passive optical network or PON is a telecommunications technology, which allows a single optical fiber to be divided using fiber optic splitters so as to serve multiple clients or customers.

Power meters are an integral tool and component for professional technicians involved in the installation and maintenance of fiber optic systems. There are a few different network types and settings that fiber optic systems are applied in, most commonly in telecommunications and data communications.

Technologies

Power meters measure the optical power by connecting the power meter to the end of a fiber that is connected to its source. Optical power is based on the heating energy of the light, and optical power meters use semiconductor detectors as they are suited to the light in the wave lengths and levels of power from a fiber optic. Fiber optic power meters are made with different detectors, as the materials used in the detector are sensitive to light within certain ranges. The three most commonly used detectors are made of Silicon, Germanium, and Indium-Gallium-Arsenide.

Measurement units used in power meters are displayed in decibels or dB. Decibels are used in radio, microwaves and fiber-optical networks as a measure of absolute power, as it is able to appropriately express large and small volumes of power in short form. So dB in this instance is referring to optical power loss, while optical power is measured in dBm. Optical power loss is displayed in a negative number whereas optical power is measured as a positive number. The power in fiber optics is similar to the power in a heated light bulb, but it occurs at much lower levels (around ten thousand times less), making it generally safe and cool to the touch.

When testing a power loss using a GAOTek power meter for a single-mode fiber, around 0.5 dB per kilometer for 1310 nm sources and 0.4 dB for 1550 nm are acceptable rates of dB loss.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST for short are responsible for the standards used for power measurements, which directly relates to power meters as they measure the power in the light being transmitted. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or the IEEE is a professional association that also develops standards for fiber optics and measuring standards. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers is a not for profit association that developed a standards program for technical specifications in support for the telecommunications industry. The heating effect of the light as it is absorbed by the detector is measured according to NIST standards, so as a result, every power meter sold is calibrated traceable to the standards NIST administers. An electrically calibrated pyro-electric radiometer, or an ECPR measures optical power by comparing the heating power of the light to the heating power of a resister. Calibration is done at 850, 1300, 1550 and occasionally at 1310nm.

Silicon detectors (low leakage) and low noise detectors are able to measure light between 400 and 1000 nanometers (nm), which is most suitable for data communication settings. Germanium detectors on the other hand are sensitive to light between 800 nm and 1800 nm. Germanium detectors are effective for all types of fiber optic systems using glass fiber. Germanium detectors are louder, especially compared to the near silent silicon detectors.

Features

GAOTek features a wide range of high quality, cost effective power meters to effectively and accurately measure power in fiber optic systems. They have advanced universal FC/SC/ST interchangeable optical adapters. They also provide upgradable installed programming and contain a long lasting battery, which gives real-time power signs. The quick start feature in our power meters eliminate the boot-up and warm-up time. GAOTek’s power meters vary in range and are suitable for many applications. Some of the features in our power meters include:

·       Auto Calibration

·       Large Data Storage function

·       Dynamic measurement range, varying dB range

·       Auto-power saving feature

Applications

Power meters are mainly used to measure the power in fiber optic cables or systems. Power meters are made of different materials that are able to pick up certain ranges of wavelengths in fibers that are used in different settings/applications, namely the telecommunication industry.

Silicon detectors are sensitive to light at approximately 400-1100 nm wavelength, making them useful for standard data communication links. They are also used in some older telecom systems that utilize 850 nm lasers.

Germanium made power meters measure wavelengths up to 1800 nm, suitable for all other fiber system applications. As a result, large or small telecommunication companies benefit greatly from a GAOTek power meter, as the quality made power meter is able to accurately measure power and power loss without breaking the bank.

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