Industrial vs Commercial Grade: Qualifying Transceivers
Fiber optic transceivers are versatile. Designed to be durable and rugged enough to withstand extreme variations in temperature and harsh operating environments, they’re also classified according to that capability. But to understand the differences between industrial and commercial grade transceivers, you should be clear about what the terminology means.
Industrial versus commercial specifies the temperature range that transceiver has been tested to operate in.
- Industrial grade transceivers are rated to withstand temperatures between -40°C and 85°C.
- Commercial Temperature range is 0°C to 70°C.
Pretty simple but there’s more.
Larger Classification Scheme
There are additional categories of products. Some manufacturers and vendors also use
- Extended Temperature Range: refers to transceivers that can withstand temperatures from -20°C to +85°C.
Certain industries have unique requirements.
Industrial and Extended
- Aerospace, military, telecommunications, transportation and power facilities often require “industrial grade” transceivers. These transceivers rated for industrial use are more durable and adaptable, regardless of environmental conditions. Some industries have strict compliance and certification requirements as well. Often required to operate efficiently outside, the transceivers must be capable of maintaining integrity in extreme temperature ranges under harsh operating conditions.
- For most other industries, transceivers rated for commercial temperature ranges or use are all that’s required. For example, most broadcasting, enterprise networks, business computer rooms, medical and data center applications are indoor applications and do not require fiber optic modules to operate in adverse weather conditions.
Industrial and extended range temperatures require special components to withstand harsher operating environments.
They are typically constructed of high-temperature-resistant semiconductor lasers and other hardware that can operate in extreme temperatures for a very long time. They also require temperature compensation software that controls the stable working current supply of optical modules. Additionally, industrial-rated transceivers must be heavily tested under extreme temperatures.
Tests done include:
- BERT tests
- Calibration tests
- Optical spectrum analysis
- Aging and reliability tests
- Switch tests
Ultimately the use of special semiconductor lasers, additional software and rigorous testing requirements means transceivers rated for industrial use are more expensive than commercial grade transceivers.
Fiber optic modules rated for industrial or extended uses are often subject to additional certification requirements which may vary according to the industry, the use of the product, and the country that you’re selling the product to. Some compliances are mandatory when selling optical transceivers in a particular country while other compliances are recognized globally. Typically, the more certifications a product has, the more rigorous testing it’s undergone.
Both the medical industry and aerospace/defense have stringent compliance requirements.
While it’s not necessary to know every country’s specific rules, you should understand that products shipped or sold to certain countries must not just claim to be able to withstand a certain temperature range but must be certified and tested to comply with standards put forth by the governing body of that country. For example, European standards differ from American.
The following certifications are most common:
See related article on optical transceiver compliances for more information.
- Outdoor use of fiber optic component typically requires industrial or extended temperature ranges.
- Industrial or extended temperature fiber optic modules are more expensive. They are constructed with special components and more rigorously tested.
- When distinguishing between industrial and commercial grade transceivers, manufacturers are specifying a certain temperature range for which that product is designed to work optimally.
- To ensure that you are getting what you need, carefully vet your vendor for experience, reliability, and product quality. Ask to see pertinent certifications and/or testing data.
Vitex, based in northern New Jersey, has been supplying high quality fiber optic products and solutions to clients in multiple industries since 2003. Our staff of highly trained engineers provides US-based technical support and customized solutions. Reach out to us to discuss your next project.