Power over Ethernet, or PoE as it is also referred to, is the technology that conveys data and electric current on Ethernet cables at the same time. Power over Ethernet has made the cabling needs for network devices a lot simpler and is therefore being used far and wide, to provide both data and electric power needs for low power devices.
How does Power over Ethernet work?
The majority of Ethernet cables are made with four pairs of wires, but normally only use two pairs. PoE takes advantage of this and adapts the two extra pairs of wires to use as conductors to transport power.
Ethernet cables labelled “Category 5” or more, are safe to use as Power of Ethernet cables because the wires inside these cables have been wrapped separately to transport power and data without the possibility of the one interfering with the other.
Which devices use Power over Ethernet?
With PoE continuing to become a preferred technology being used by manufacturers, the list of devices that use this technology is growing.
Right now, the three main applications include:
IP Cameras – these are digital video cameras that send images through an IP network. Being flexible, PoE is perfect for surveillance cameras that must be relocated and installed quickly.
Wireless networking – Bluetooth access points, Wi-Fi access points, and RFID readers can all use Power over Ethernet technology to allow access in remote areas.
VoIP phones – this is a phone that transmits, and places calls over an IP network. A Power over Ethernet enabled VoIP phone can be powered off remotely, and only needs one wall socket.
If used correctly, Power over Ethernet technology can do a lot more and can be used in other devices too, including digital signage, clocks, access control, encoders, entry and access badging systems, decoders, Public View Monitors (PVMs), lighting, and many other types of devices.
PoE standards are more advanced these days and can now support a network speed of around 10 gigs and allow them to receive more watts. As new standards are released, the manufacturers of PoE are staying ahead by enhancing and upgrading cameras to use each new technology in the best possible way.
What are the benefits of PoE?
There are several advantages to any network where Power over Ethernet is available, such as:
Reduced installation expenses – PoE, with its single cable delivering data and power at the same time, means that installation costs are significantly less than what it costs for conventional wiring. Since it does not have to be connected to mains power, Power over Ethernet enables outdoor installation without having to install electrical infrastructure, like power points, at every endpoint.
PoE injectors and splitters can also be used to re-purpose legacy systems – like phone systems, without new electrical infrastructure having to be installed.
Flexibility – being plug and play, PoE allows devices to be easily adapted to changing environments, and devices can be added or removed from the network without any interruption. Since the device isn’t plugged into an electrical socket, there is more flexibility to install devices, as well as the freedom to use them wherever they are needed the most.
Safety – Power over Ethernet does not use multiple sockets and adaptors during installation, but instead, provides power from just one source, making the installation process simple, straightforward, and a lot safer. There is also a reduced risk of electrical overload, potential damage to equipment, as well as power outages, with this stable source of power from just one outlet.
Scalability – because re-purposing legacy systems provide so much flexibility, and does not depend on plug sockets, installing and distributing new network connections are made easy and straightforward. In addition to this, PoE networks can also be enhanced to include more devices in other locations or rooms.
Increased data gathering capabilities – Power over Ethernet is perfect for collecting data. For instance, any facilities that use analytics software can estimate whether the place they are managing is being used and if LED lighting and HVAC components should be switched off or on.
A few years ago, when Wi-Fi was not available, people were hugely impressed with how one cable connection could allow them to browse the internet and find online data of all sorts. Over the years, the number of cables was reduced, with people now having access to the internet with just one connection.
Then along came Power over Ethernet. As this technology evolves, manufacturers are working constantly to upgrade its supporting structure to stay ahead. The latest PoE standard supports sufficient power to power a laptop, and later, an entire desktop system!
With so many benefits and PoE being constantly upgraded, there is little doubt that this technology is here to stay!