The Advantages of PoE: What You Should Know

By Tony Messerschmidt

It’s no secret that more devices are connecting to networks every day. According to Statista research, 26.7 billion devices are connected to our networks already – with another 3 billion more expected in the next year alone.

When each of these connected devices needs a power and data connection, things can get messy quickly. This need to bring power and data to each device also impacts where they can be placed (in most cases, they need to be close to electrical outlets).

Take, for example, a surveillance camera. If you install an IP-enabled camera inside a building, it will need a data connection to communicate with video recording and display equipment hardware. This connection will also help it “talk” to other network-connected devices (access control, for example) to share data and make adjustments accordingly. The camera will also need a power connection to obtain electricity to allow the camera to function.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology can make these power and data connections faster and easier. The primary advantage of PoE is the fact that it delivers data and power over one category cable (like Category 6A, for example).

Every PoE network requires:

  • PoE Ethernet switch ports attached to a network
  • PoE cables and patch cords
  • PoE-enabled devices (cameras, phones, wireless access points – whatever you want to connect)

The network is wired up as normal and the equipment takes care of power delivery. It enables category cables to carry electrical power without requiring a separate power connection – which cuts cabling needs in half.

There are several other advantages of PoE, too, which include:

1. Cost Savings

Because you only need one connection, material costs are lower. There’s no need for traditional electrical work, separate wires/cables, etc.

2. No Electricians Required

These cables can be installed by systems integrators – no electricians are necessary, which reduces installation and labor costs. This also decreases work hazards. PoE cable installs faster because no metal cladding or conduit are involved. It can also be rerouted easily and safely.

3. More Flexibility

Because you’re no longer tethered to the location of your electrical outlets, you can place your surveillance cameras, wireless access points, digital signage displays, or VoIP phones wherever you want – even if there’s no outlet in sight.

Because no electrical wiring is involved, devices connected to the PoE cable can be moved quickly and reconnected – with no need to call an electrician.

4. Better Data & Control

Because devices receive power and data through one cable and are connected to the network (as a result of the data connection), they can be monitored, managed, and controlled remotely.

5. Central Backup

Because PoE power comes from a central source (instead of distributed wall adapters), you can choose to use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to provide backup power services in the event of a power outage.

The Capabilities of PoE

The advantages of PoE were first seen with VoIP phones (due in part to the low wattage levels that PoE provided at the time, which was around 15W). Now, however, IEEE 802.3bt – the 100W PoE standard – allows you to connect POS machines, digital signage, LED lighting, and other devices that require higher power wattages.

This new standard states that Category 5e cable or higher is needed to support PoE – it’s crucial that high-performance cable is used for 100W PoE installations to achieve thermal and power efficiency. High-performance cables also allow for less power dissipation, ensuring that more of the power in the cable actually gets to the device. This not only improves efficiency but also helps keep cable bundle temperatures lower.

Want to learn more about implementing PoE to cut down on costs? We can help!

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