I was just a youngster when I found out there was more to a building than roof, walls and floors. The wires hidden in the walls, and the mechanicals that kept the house comfortable opened a world of wonder for me. A switch here made a light turn on over there, the heater ignited with a blast of hot air at just the right time to keep us warm. It was all magic to young me. All the magic made me wonder what it would be like when I grew up.
Now my career is all about the magic of buildings – from design to construction to maintenance and keeping buildings up to date. To be honest, I’m seeing things that I couldn’t have imagined as a youngster eager to use a hammer and nails.
Who could have foreseen the magic of power over Ethernet (POE)? POE relies on a single cable that provides both power and data. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But think of phones you can plug into a single internet connection and place a call anywhere all over the world. Place a security camera right where you need it without having to install or connect to a power box. Or have the full access control terminal at each point of entry no matter how far from access to building power. In fact, if you’re ready, we can give you WLAN access points and a range of POE powered-devices anywhere you can reach with an Ethernet cable.
There’s More To POE Than Just Because We Can
I’m pragmatic and don’t believe in doing something just because we can, even if it brings a magic feel to the building. So I look at the advantages of any ‘improvements’. Well POE didn’t disappoint me. We found POE offered cost and time savings to our customers. We could eliminate the expense of installing power cable and we could locate network cables almost anywhere. Customers enjoy the ability to think about the functionality, take away the tether of an electrical outlet and place IP cameras or wireless access points where they are most needed not just where the power outlets are.
I know what you’re thinking, we’re getting out of hand putting Ethernet cables everywhere for power and data. It’s just a benefit of the technology that POE delivery is intelligent. Network equipment is protected from overload, underpowering and incorrect installation. We’ve found with POE you can still have reliable operation of your technology and network. POE power comes from a central universally compatible source which has more integrity than a collection of distributed wall adaptors. Because it’s a central system you can back it up by uninterruptible power supply. And just to make it even more versatile POE is scalable. Centrally supplied power means installation and distribution of network connections is both simple and effective.
The Other Side Of The Story
There’s always another side of the story to consider, some say POE has compatibility issues. Early on this may have been a criticism, as people didn’t understand the technology or how to implement POE. I’m sure the incompatibility caused some excitement in some buildings. But today we’ve got standards (IEEE 802.3af) for POE equipment and procedures.
Some of the early issues with POE came with the inexperience of those designing, planning and installing systems. Those who didn’t follow careful design rules were reminded by their mis-designed systems that electricity obeys strict rules. Those who don’t follow those rules are quickly and sharply reminded to get with the program. If you work with a professional, like CESG, you’ll get the benefits of systems designed to meet IEEE 802.3af standards. What once might have been a cutting edge system has been improved to become an easy to design, implement and use Ethernet system with enhanced capabilities. The stories about a 5 watt camera going into a 15 watt injector does not release 10 watts of wild power into the ozone are just untrue. You see the fallacy, A 5 watt camera draws only 5 watts of power regardless of what is available via Ethernet.
One of the delays that POE had in getting more established was the myth that special wiring was required. Not so. The same cable you use in regular LANs are also suitable for POE-enabled LANs.
Upgrade Or Add POE To Your Network
Adding POE to your network is straightforward, and there are two routes you can choose: A POE switch is a network switch that has Power over Ethernet injection built-in. Simply connect other network devices to the switch as normal, and the switch will detect whether they are POE-compatible and enable power automatically.
POE switches are available to suit all applications, from low-cost unmanaged edge switcheswith a few ports, up to complex multi-port rack-mounted units with sophisticated management. A midspan (or POE injector) is used to add POE capability to regular non-POE network links. Midspans can be used to upgrade existing LAN installations to POE, and provide a versatile solution where fewer POE ports are required. Upgrading each network connection to POE is as simple as patching it through the midspan, and as with POE switches, power injection is controlled and automatic.
Midspans are available as multi-port rack-mounted units or low-cost single-port injectors.It is also possible to upgrade powered devices, such as IP cameras, to POE by using a POE splitter. The POE splitter is patched in to the camera’s network connection, and taps off the POE power, which it converts into a lower voltage suitable for the camera.