Data Networking

Get to Know Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Tips in Low-Voltage Environments

Power over Ethernet (PoE) has become a very important standard for businesses. It is a standard that allows for the delivery of both data and power over a single Ethernet cable.

Benjamin Robert

With the increase in smart technology and integrating network connectivity to hardware, Power over Ethernet (PoE) has become a very important standard for businesses. It is a standard that allows for the delivery of both data and power over a single Ethernet cable. It provides a convenient and efficient way to power networked devices without the need for separate power cables or adapters. Low voltage technology, including wireless access points, IP cameras, and VoIP phones, can take advantage of utilizing a single cable for both network and power.

As the demand for low voltage solutions continues to grow, PoE is expected to become even more popular. This is because it offers a number of benefits that can help businesses save money, improve efficiency, and increase security.

Advantages of Using PoE Connections

PoE (Power over Ethernet) connections offer numerous advantages in networking and device deployment. By combining power and data transmission over a single Ethernet cable, it simplifies installation, reduces costs, and provides flexibility in device placement. In a nutshell, there are a few easy to identify benefits to utilizing Power over Ethernet in low voltage applications and projects.

  • Safety: The Power over Ethernet standard adheres industry-standard safety protocols. Devices are designed to operate within specified power limits, preventing overloading and electrical hazards. It also incorporates safeguards such as detection of non-PoE devices and the ability to deliver power only when a compatible device is detected, ensuring safe operation and protection against damage.
  • Simplified installation: It provides flexibility in device placement. Since power is delivered through Ethernet cables, devices can be installed in locations where traditional power sources may not be easily accessible. This flexibility allows for more strategic and efficient deployment of devices, especially in areas where rewiring is impractical or expensive.
    Additionally, power over ethernet networks can be easily expanded or modified without the need for extensive electrical work.
  • Centralized Power Management: It allows for centralized power management and control. Power can be monitored, controlled, and managed at the network switch level. This enables remote power management, including the ability to remotely reset or power cycle devices, monitor power consumption, and schedule power delivery.
    Centralized power management simplifies troubleshooting and enhances operational efficiency.
  • Future-Proofing: As standards continue to evolve, with newer standards offering higher power levels and more flexibility. Implementing it now can future-proof your network infrastructure, ensuring compatibility with upcoming devices that may require higher power. This scalability and compatibility make it a forward-looking solution.
  • Backwards Compatible: Have devices that cannot utilize power over ethernet? Need to have a device only connect for network connectivity? With it implemented, it is fully backwards-compatible with older devices on your network. Non-PoE devices can be connected to an enabled switch or injector without any issues or adverse effects to the hardware.

These benefits make PoE an attractive option for various applications, including IP surveillance systems, wireless networks, VoIP phones, smart lighting, and IoT deployments, among others. It’s important to note that when using power over ethernet, it’s crucial to ensure that the devices connected to the network are compatible with the specific standard being used.

Additionally, the power requirements of the devices should be considered to ensure that the infrastructure can deliver sufficient power.

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A Ubiquiti Network Switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE) built in.
A Ubiquiti Network Switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE) built in.

How Does it Work?

Power over ethernet enables the simultaneous transmission of both power and data over standard Ethernet cables. This eliminates the need for additional power sources near the devices, simplifying installation and reducing clutter.

PoE operates according to IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards, primarily the IEEE 802.3af and IEEE 802.3at standards. These standards define the technical specifications and power limits for devices. In a power over ethernet system, there are two main components: the Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) and the Powered Devices (PD). The PSE provides power to the Ethernet cable, while the PD receives power and uses it to operate the device.

Power over ethernet supports different power levels depending on the specific standard. The original IEEE 802.3af standard, also known as power over ethernet, supports up to 15.4 watts of power per port. The IEEE 802.3at standard, known as PoE+, can deliver up to 30 watts per port. Additionally, there is the newer IEEE 802.3bt standard, or PoE++, which supports higher power levels of up to 60 or 100 watts per port.

It is expected that new standards will continue to be released, and it is important to consider your currently implemented standard when purchasing newer and newer hardware.

It’s important to note that when using power over ethernet, it’s crucial to ensure that the devices connected to the network are compatible with the specific standard being used. Additionally, the power requirements of the devices should be considered to ensure that the infrastructure can deliver sufficient power.

Structured cabling of network cables.
Structured network cables.

How to Implement Power over Ethernet

To implement power over ethernet, you need compatible network equipment. Compatible switches have built-in Power Sourcing Equipment functionality, meaning they can provide power to devices through the network directly. Alternatively, injectors can be used to add capabilities to older switches by injecting power into the Ethernet cable if purchasing a new switch is not an option. In the case of needing separate injectors, one will need to be deployed per port or per device to correctly enable functionality.

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Top Enterprise Switches for PoE

When choosing appropriate PoE hardware, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The number of network ports: How many devices do you need to power? How many network ports do you expect to need? How many ports do you expect to need in the next year?
  • The amount of power per port: How much power does each device need? This will help you understand the standard you will need to implement.
  • The budget: How much are you willing to spend on the hardware?

There are many different network switches that implement power over ethernet, but some of the best brands include:

meraki enterprise switch - Get to Know Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Tips in Low-Voltage Environments
A Cisco Meraki network switch.
aruba enterprise switch - Get to Know Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Tips in Low-Voltage Environments
An Aruba Instant On network switch.
hp enterprise switch - Get to Know Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Tips in Low-Voltage Environments
A Hewlett Packard Enterprise network switch.

Cisco Meraki: Many small and large businesses choose Meraki network switches for any location, topology, or connectivity need because they are easy to deploy, manage, and configure right out of the box. Meraki features, such as cloud-based management, security, and reporting, are included on all network switches available from Cisco Meraki.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Unlock new levels of network performance, reliability, and scalability across data center, campus, and branch with the HPE Comware family of switches and routers. Many of the newer switches available through HP have PoE+ implementation, allowing for higher voltage devices to be powered without issue. Many of HPE switches have a number of features that make it ideal for use in harsh environments, such as dust and water resistance.

Aruba Instant On: The Aruba Instant On switches feature advanced, smart-managed, fixed-configuration Gigabit switches designed for small businesses that are easy-to-deploy and affordable. Using either the Instant On mobile app or the cloud-based web portal, you can quickly set up, monitor and manage the 1930 switch series from anywhere at any time. Up to 30 W PoE power delivery is available out-of-the-box for your devices, like access points, surveillance cameras and VoIP phones.

How to Choose Good Hardware

Once you have considered the specific requirements of your facility, you can start to narrow down your choices. There are many different hardware manufacturers on the market, so you should do some research to find one that has a good reputation and offers the features you need.

Here are some additional tips for choosing good hardware for your environment:

  • Read reviews: Read reviews of different hardware products before you make a purchase. This will help you to get a better idea of the pros and cons of each product.
  • Talk to experts: Speak with experts in low voltage technologies. If you need assistance finding good hardware for your environment, Wolverine Low Voltage can assist with finding hardware within your requirements and budget.
  • Consider your budget: PoE hardware can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Set a budget before you start shopping so that you don’t overspend. It is also important to understand smaller budgets may not meet all your needs, and it is especially important to read reviews and understand the company.

By following these tips, you can choose good hardware for your PoE environment that will meet your needs and budget.

In addition to these factors, businesses can also consider the following:

  • The environment: Where will the hardware be located? If it will be in a harsh environment, you will need to choose hardware that is designed for that environment.
  • The future: How much growth do you expect in your company and network environment? If you expect to add more PoE devices in the future, you will need to choose hardware that can accommodate that growth. Choosing switches with more ports than your current needs may be beneficial.

Getting Started

Wolverine Low Voltage makes installing PoE-enabled network equipment and switches is a straightforward process. We ensure that your network equipment, such as switches or injectors, supports the functionality. If not, we will recommend new hardware or injectors that bring this feature to your facility. Once enabled, we can work with you to determine compatible devices and hardware within your environment to best take advantage of power over ethernet.

We provide professional guidance and assistance in planning, installing, and supporting your project start to finish. If you are thinking of installing outdoor lighting on your property, contact us for a free consultation and find how we can assist.

Get in Touch with Wolverine Low Voltage

Looking to get started with a project? Contact us with details and we will follow up shortly.


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