If history has anything to teach us, it’s that technology markets favor simplicity, lower costs and ease of installation. The most disruptive ideas are those that make our lives easier, and a rapidly evolving technology called Power over Ethernet (PoE) is on course to improve the way firms of all sizes connect the myriad of devices that are part of everyday business life, making it easier to install, manage and upgrade their infrastructure.
PoE runs electrical power over twisted pair Ethernet cables, so the data cabling network is delivering both data communications and electricity to end points. It means a single, cost-effective, power efficient network can run a variety of services and devices.
The PoE 802.3 standard has been able to support up to 30 watts for some time and for many applications, that was sufficient. However, in late 2018, to meet the demands of devices requiring higher power requirements, the PoE standards changed to support up to 55W and 90-100W, including support for multi-gigabit ethernet, 2.5GBASE-T, 5GBASE-T and 10GBASE-T.
Removing the dependence on traditional powered lines means that expanding or changing configurations to support more powered devices becomes fast and simple, even in space-constrained or hard-to-wire environments such as ceilings or atriums.
PoE is already in use with CCTV and surveillance cameras, VoIP phones and WiFi access points, but with the increased power output with the new PoE standards, the range of applications is set to grow. The future will see PoE supporting smart lighting systems, remote help points, building access including intercom, entrance and door locking systems; public address systems and speakers; projectors and video equipment, PoS and self-service kiosks, and of course, smart-home appliances that fit into the broader IoT category.
It will benefit firms with new business models, but it also represents an opportunity for electrical installers to expand the range of services they offer. Unlike a 120/220V power network, PoE does not require qualifications and is safe to handle. With safe and simple installation, requiring minimal training, the broad types of PoE applications means a wide range of installation professionals will be able to offer PoE devices to their clients.
Electricians and installers working with cable and TV, hospitality and venue installations, security specialists and AV professionals will all be able to offer PoE equipment alongside existing services, with the new standards leading to increased demand for high-end PoE devices.
PoE installation jobs will reduce on-site time, while the customer benefits from zero down-time and a quicker return to business-as-usual. Using the same network cables that may already be throughout a premises means a PoE installation may only involve the addition or removal of end-point devices, or changes to how the network is configured.
PoE removes the need for AC/DC adapters that take up space and require local power. Advantages to installers include faster, simpler and safer installation, while end-users benefit from fewer cables, less bulky transformers and other power management devices, with reduced power consumption.
A PoE network is centrally managed from a single router, with back-up available, and remote management means power consumption can be monitored from anywhere, allowing devices to be turned up, down, off or on to maximise energy cost savings.
LED lights, Wi-Fi access points and VoIP phones can be powered down during working hours, security cameras active only when needed. Plus, as PoE is a low-voltage DC alternative to traditional electrical power networks, energy consumption per device goes down.
As a safe, low-voltage technology, PoE is a gateway to an efficient, cost-effective connected world of all kinds of devices and services. The potential ease of installation, space saving, reduced costs, management overheads and power consumption will benefit both you and your customers, while the full potential of this technology has yet to be realised.
This original article was featured in the Electrical Times Magazine UK Find them at @ElectricalTimes on Twitter.