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Using Fiber Optic Power Meter to Test Optic Power Level


Fiber optic communication equipment is based on the optical power level between the transmitter and the receiver. The difference of the optical power level between them is the loss of the cabling plant. To measure the power loss of them, an optical power meter is needed to conduct a power loss testing.

fiber optic power meter is typically consist of a solid state detector, signal conditioning circuitry and a digital display of power. To interface to the large variety of fiber optic connectors in use, some form of removable connector adapter is usually provided. The power meter is calibrated at the same wavelength at the source output such as multimode 850 or 1300nm, single mode, 1310, 1490 and/or 1550nm, POF. Meters for POF systems are usually calibrated at 650 and 850nm. The wavelengths used in POF systems.

When performing the test, use the optical power meter adapter to mate to the connector type on the cable. The connectorized reference patch cables must be the same fiber type and size as the cable plant and have connectors compatible to those on the source and cables.

Power meters are calibrated to read in dB reference to one milliwatt of optical power. Some meters of a relative dB scale also, useful for loss measurements since the reference value may be set to 0 dB on the output of the test source. Occasionally, lab meters may also measure in linear units like milliwatts, microwatts and nanowatts.

Optical Power Testing Procedure:
Turn on the power meter to allow time to warm-up.
Set meter to wavelength of the source and “dBm” to measure calibrated optical power.
Clean all connectors and mating adapters.
Attach reference cable or fiber patch cord to source if testing source power or disconnect cable from receiver.
Attach power meter to end of cable and read measured power.

To reduce the measurement uncertainty, you must calibrate the optical power meter according the manufacturers specified intervals. Clean all connectors and remove the meter adapter periodically to clean the adapters and power meter detector. To avoid the stress loss, please don’t bend the fiber optic cables during the testing.

Optic power testing is only one the main part of fiber optic testing. Most test procedures for fiber optic component specifications have been standardized by national and international standards which are converted in procedures for measuring absolute optical power, cable and connector loss and the effects of many environment factors such as temperature, pressure, flexing, etc. Basice fiber optic testing instruments are the fiber optic power meter, optical light source, OTDR and fiber inspection microscope.