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LC Connector vs SC Connector—What’s the difference?

Optical connectors are used for connection between network devices at data centers and the connection of fiber optic cable to equipment on customer premises (e.g. FTTH). There are many different fiber optic connectors. These optical connectors establish connections between different networking devices at data centers.
Among the various types of fiber connectors, LC and SC are two of the most commonly used connectors. SC vs LC: what’s the difference and which one is better? If you still have no answer yet. You may find some clues here.

What Is LC Connector?

LC or Lucent Connector is a smaller one as compared to the others. It features a 1.25mm ferrule of ceramic material. It was named after its inventor. You can use this connector for Singlemode fiber cables. This particular connector was a modern replacement for the SC connector but it was not effective. It has a latch-style lock system. The applications of this connector are in datacoms and high-density patch applications. Its smaller size makes it ideal for smaller places and densely populated panels.

What Is SC Connector?

Developed by the laboratories at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in the mid-eighties, the SC connector was one of the first connectors to hit the market following the advent of ceramic ferrules. Sometimes referred to as the “square connector” the SC has a push-pull coupling end face with a spring loaded ceramic ferrule. Initially intended for Gigabit Ethernet networking, it was standardized into the telecommunications specification TIA-568-A in 1991 and slowly grew in popularity as manufacturing costs came down. Due to its excellent performance, it dominated fiber optics for over a decade with only the ST competing with it. Thirty years on, it remains the second most common connector for polarization maintaining applications. The SC is ideally suited for datacoms and telecoms applications including point to point and passive optical networking.

LC vs SC: How They Differ From Each Other

Name Mating Cycles Ferrule Size Typical Insertion Loss(dB) IEC Specification Cost Ease of use Application Features
LC 500 1.25mm Ceramic 0.25-0.5 61754-20 $$ ●●●● High density, Cost effective,Field fit
SC 100 2.5mm Ceramic 0.25-0.5 61754-4 $$ ●●●●● Mainstream, Reliable, Fast deployment, Field fit
After having a basic understanding of both LC and SC connectors, you may ask what are the differences and what do they mean to your implementation? The table below gives an overview of strengths and weaknesses. And generally speaking, the difference between LC and SC fiber optic connectors lies in the size, the handling, and the connector history, which will be discussed respectively in the following text.

Magnitude

This is one of the basic differences between these two connectors. The SC connector has a ferrule of 2.5mm while the LC features a 1.25mm ferrule which is exactly half the size of the SC connector. Because of the smaller size, LC is more commonly used in offices and data centers where there are clusters of Fiber Optic Cables and space for making connections is limited.

Size

LC is half the size of SC. One SC adapter is the same size as a duplex LC adapter. Therefore LC is more and more common in central offices where packing density (number of connections per area) is an important cost factor.

Design

SC comes with a push-pull lock system while LC has a latched-style locking system. LCs have an innovative style and that is why their demand is higher.

Handling:

SC is a true “push-pull-connector” and LC is a “latched connector”, although there are very innovative, real “push-pull-LCs” available which have the same handling capabilities as SC.

The History of Connector

The LC is the “younger” connector of the two, SC is wider spread around the world but LC is catching up. Both connectors have the same insertion loss and return loss capabilities. Generally, it depends where in the network you want to use the connector, no matter SC or LC, or even the other different kinds of connectors.

Lifespan

As mentioned earlier, LCs are relatively new connectors. SC connectors are widely in use all across the world, but LCs are also catching up. The insertion loss (the loss of signal or data packets) and return loss (measurement of the amount of light that is reflected back toward the source) capabilities are the same for these two fiber optic connectors. Both connectors have a design that provides great speed and durable connections.

Conclusion

Present and future communication technology demand fast, efficient and safe performance in the data communication process. Large and complex databases all interconnected must be able to receive and transmit data without outside interference. Both SC and LC are designed to achieve such a kind of transmission. As for the question “SC vs LC: what’s the difference and which one is better?”, you just need to keep three basic points in mind:
  • SC has a larger connector housing and a larger 2.5mm ferrule.
  • LC has a smaller connector housing and a smaller 1.25mm ferrule.
  • SC used to be all the rage, but now it’s LC. You can fit more interfaces on line-cards, panels, etc with an LC connector.

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