Optical Power Meters

Optical Power Meters

OptoTest Optical Power Meters are essential fiber optic test instruments for the manufacturing, testing, and lab environments.  Companies worldwide use OptoTest power meters for testing fiber optic cables, optical transceivers, optical network components and other fiber optic products.

OptoTest’s industry-leading Optical Power Meters help you develop & manufacture the highest quality fiber optic cables & products.  Our Optical Power Meters are made for your production, lab, R&D and benchtop testing environments.  Our most popular benchtop/rackmount multi-channel Optical Power is used by some of the world’s largest fiber optic product manufacturers to help them make their products achieve the very best specifications that keep their customers coming back for more.

Our OPMs are trusted for use in highly critical defense, government, aerospace, oil & gas, subsea, and high production manufacturing environments.

OP710 Multichannel Optical Power Meter

Most economical multichannel OPM on the market. Up to 24 channels of individual OPMs, simultaneous data acquisition from all channels. 1mm – 10mm detectors, silicon, InGaas, hi-power, very versatile.

OP740 High Speed Multichannel Optical Power Meter

2 to 24 individual power meters, software driven high speed data capture up to 125,000 samples per second, software data capture, simultaneously measures all channels.

OP735 Benchtop Optical Power Meter

Up to 4 channels, mix of InGaAs, Silicon, and High Power Detectors. This unit is ideal as a compact, stand-alone power meter or used in conjunction with a stabilized light source to measure insertion loss.

OP712 USB Optical Power Meter

Standalone OPM, USB for power & operation, SMF, MMF, FTTx, 1, 3, 5, 10MM detectors, InGaas or Silicon, Standard, MTP/MPO and ribbon fiber connection adapters available.

OP510 USB Optical Power Meter Module

Cost-effective solution for measuring, monitoring and logging of insertion loss or power fluctuations. Small (4”x2”x1.25”) portable module designed to minimize movement and bending of the reference and test cables. USB Powered. Data acquisition via USB available.

OPRH Remote Head Power Meters

OptoTest’s Remote Head Power Meters (OPRH) create a highly adaptable fiber optic test environment when coupled with a supporting mainframe (eg OP940, OP815, etc) and maintain the same high level of accuracy and repeatability as panel mounted detectors.

What is an Optical Power Meter?

Optical Power Meters (OPM) measure the light output on fiber optic networks, fiber links, fiber optic cables or other fiber optic components. The OPM compares the light sent into the device(s) under test to the amount of light received at the end.  The optical power meter then displays that measurement, usually stated in dB’s, on the instrument itself or through software.

Optical Power Meters measure Optical Insertion Loss

The Optical Power Meter’s main function is to provide you with an accurate amount of Optical Insertion Loss due to the device or devices you are testing.  Knowing the amount of Insertion Loss helps you determine when losses are excessive, which could cause numerous problems with Bit Error Rates in your data communication.

Optical Power Meters and Fiber Optic Light Sources

Common fiber optic instruments used in conjunction with optical power meters are Fiber Optic Light Sources.  This is an instrument that outputs a stabilized light into a device, such as a fiber optic cable, and the OPM measures the output against the light put into the component.  This method allows for a manufacturer of a fiber component to have precise and highly accurate measurements for the components and cables they manufacture.

Frequently Asked Optical Power Meter Questions (FAQs)

Do Optical Power Meters come with a Fiber Optic Light Source?

Dedicated Optical Power Meters do not normally come with a fiber optic light source such as a laser light source or LED light source.

However, there are fiber optic test sets that either come paired with a light source and OPM, or as an all-in-one light source and OPM, such as OptoTest’s line of Insertion Loss Meters.

Our Optical Insertion Loss Meters have numerous variations, such as fiber channel counts (up to 24 channels), wavelengths, connector types, Single Mode, MultiMode or FTTx.

How to use an Optical Power Meter

Optical Power Meters (OPMs) measure the amount of light detected at the end of your fiber optic device under test.

The first step is to clean and inspect your DUT, OPM connector, any reference cables you’ll use and the connector from your light source.  As you know, Fiber Optic Cables can carry microscopic particles that could block some or all of the light passing through your cable.  So, before you test, you must clean and inspect all the ends of your devices and instruments to make sure you’re starting clean.

The next step is to “Zero” out your OPM, also called referencing.  This step provides you with an accurate starting point before you add your Device Under Test (DUT).  That way, when you add your DUT you know the measurement provided is just for your DUT and not other variables in the test setup.  You do this by connecting your light source to the OPM and measuring the output before you add your DUT to the link.

Lastly, you connect your Fiber Optic Cable or other DUT to the light source on one end and the Optical Power Meter on the other end.  Your OPM will provide you with a readout of the results either on your instrument’s screen or through it’s software.  With lab and manufacturing level OPM’s, such as the type OptoTest manufactures, the software can track your measurements on batches of cables so that test results can be provided to your customers.  The software also allows for greater understanding of your production quality output for further analysis.

What are the different types of Optical Power Meters?

Optical Power Meters come in a wide variety of types for different usages and industries.  Below are some of the broader categories of OPMs:

  • Handheld standalone OPMs:  These fiber testers are often used in the field for network and fiber component installation.  They are durable, portable, usually battery powered and are quite affordable for field use.  These can also be found in lab environments for simple, fast measurements.  With Standalone OPMs you’ll need a light source to take a measurement.  The light source is often provided by your fiber network, but if an external one is needed you’ll also need to purchase a Fiber Optic Light Source.
  • Handheld OPM & Light Source Test Sets: These fiber test sets are usually two separate devices that come with a reference cable.  These are also usually intended for field use and are portable, battery powered and affordable.  The measurements are done by connecting the reference cable between the two instruments and taking a reference measurement (Zeroing).  Then adding your fiber optic cable between the reference cable and the OPM will give you your Insertion Loss or Power Measurement.
  • USB powered OPMs:  USB Optical Power Meters provide you with a small device that is powered and operated through a USB connection.  These instruments usually have interchangeable connectors that mount on the optical light detector so that many different types of connectors and cables can be tested with one single device.  Because they are USB operated through software, you can store your measurements to output on product labels or in your quality reports.  USB OPMs are often found in lab and manufacturing environments.
  • Benchtop Single Channel Optical Power Meters:  High quality Benchtop OPMs provide highly accurate, highly dependable measurements.  Better OPMs can also provide you with high data sampling rates.  That can come in handy when you’re testing for environmental factors such as vibration to see if the continuity breaks.  Benchtop OPMs offer many other options that can be hard or impossible to find in handhelds.  For example, detector types (InGaas, Silicon, high power), detector sizes (1mm to 10mm), Wavelengths, fiber types (SMF, MMF, FTTx), and front panel connectors (FC, SC, ST, etc).This equipment can provide absolute power and optical insertion loss.  These benchtop instruments can usually be controlled via their front panel interface or through manufacturer supplied software.  Additionally, fiber optic cable and fiber component manufacturing companies operate these through their own internal software to log the test measurements for package labels and for internal reports.  Benchtop OPMs are ideal for the lab and manufacturing environments.
  • Benchtop Multi-Channel Optical Power Meters:  Multi-Channel OPMs are quite useful, efficient and convenient in lab and manufacturing environments.  Because there are many channels of individual OPM detectors, which can have a variety of configurations or all be the same, you can test numerous cables or multi-fiber cables (MPO/MTP) at one time.  This can save tremendous amounts of time.  Multi-Channel OPMs are used by companies in manufacturing for Optical Transceivers for example because they can test many transceivers at one time, which speeds up the testing and setup time considerably.  Other multi-channel fiber connections and fiber products are often tested using these multi-channel instruments as well.Smaller form factor Benchtop OPMs usually only go up to 4 channels while the larger 19″ size can house as many as 24 channels in one instrument.
  • Rackmount Multi-Channel Optical Power Meters:  Rackmount OPMs are ideal in numerous lab and manufacturing environments.  In the aerospace industry, this allows the portability of rackmount instruments to roll around to the jets in the hangar.  These rackmount systems can be combined into multiple OPMs inside of one rack system to provide a highly controlled and customized testing environment with additional test instruments, such as Fiber Optic Light Sources.  Often, rack systems combine multiple fiber optic test equipment to provide singular uses for a dedicated type of test.  Rack OPMs are commonly found in Aerospace, Harsh Environment Cable Manufacturers, High-Volume fiber optic cable manufacturers, high-volume manufacturers of fiber transceivers and other fiber components, in the Oil & Gas industry — as well as other lab level environments.
  • High-Speed Optical Power Meters:  The use of High-speed OPMs is common for environmentally testing fiber optic cable assemblies, harsh environment cables, and other fiber optic components.  The high speed data capture gives you 1000’s of measurements per second while your Device Under Test (DUT) is subjected to your environmental intervention, such as vibration, tension, torsion, temperature, undersea pressure, etc.  With High Speed measurements you can determine discontinuity and anomalies with your DUT with exacting details.  These instruments are sometimes operated using custom software or manufacturer provided software.  For example, OptoTest provides an Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows companies to integrate the instrument into their software. There are very few High Speed Multi-Channel OPM manufacturers in the world, proudly OptoTest is one of the top manufacturers of this world-class equipment.