Individuals are usually acquainted with electronic multimeters which could measure voltage, current and resistance. An Optical Power Meter looks and works like a multimeter. It consists of a display unit as well as a calibrated sensor to appraise the light power transmitted in optical fibers.
Optical power meters are broadly utilized in the fiber optic communication industry. It always will come in 2 types: desktop type and handheld type.
The desktop type has greater resolution and is also usually employed in R&D applications in the lab, fiber optic components and systems manufacturing floors.
The Handheld type has lower resolution and can be purchased in a handy handheld footprint for quick field use. Therefore it is regularly utilized by fiber optic cabling technicians in datacom, telecom and CATV network maintenance.
In the handheld optical power market, the most common wavelengths are 850nm, 1300nm, 1310nm and 1550nm. 850nm and 1300nm are for multimode applications. 1310nm and 1550nm are for single mode applications.
It is advisable to choose Fiber Identifier which can be calibrated for those four wavelengths to obtain the most out of your cash. To help you cover both multimode and single mode network applications.
Power meters are calibrated using a traceable calibration standard such as an NIST standard. NIST laboratories provide measurements and standards for U.S. industry.
The optical detector within a handheld optical power meter is mainly responsible for converting light energy into electronic volt hence the circuit board from the instrument can measure it accordingly. The kind of detector determines wavelength range and its particular dynamic range.
Silicon type detectors can sense 350nm to 1100nm wavelength light. Germanium detectors can sense 750nm to 1800nm. The most famous InGaAs detectors can measure 850nm to 1650 nm.
An optical power meter’s dynamic range spec notifys you what light power range it may effectively and correctly measure.
When we discuss light power, we usually use the unit dBm. As being a reference, 1mW light energy is identified as dBm. So a 2mW light energy can be defined in dBm as 10*log10(2mW/1mW) = 3. dBm. And 55devbpky is defined in dBm as 10*log10(.5mW/1mW) = -3. dBm.
So Fiber Optic Light Source with -50~ 3dBm dynamic range actually can measure light energy from .0001mW to 2mW.
The handheld power meter industry is crowded with Agilent, Anritsu, EXFO, Noyes and several other less known famous brands. But this type of product is pretty mature and often you may safely check around.