Enabling a single cable to provide both data connection and electrical power to low voltage systems is not a new idea. Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology has in fact been around for decades. But recent advances coupled with LED lighting are now exploding its potential.
While early PoE systems could only support 7.5W of power, they’ve since evolved to handle up to 60W. With today’s more efficient LEDs requiring only 30-35W, PoE can take the place of traditional Class 1 AC wiring for qualified applications. In facilities that already have multiple WAPs and CAT 5 cabling over thousands of square feet, powering new or expanding systems via existing infrastructure offers tremendous value.
In a nutshell, PoE not only extends sufficient power to low voltage appliances like security cameras and dimmers, but each LED fixture also becomes a standard RJ-45 connector plug & play device—with its own specific IP address. If sensors are added, these LEDs transform to smart hubs and become part of the overall IT network. They can then efficiently gather and report details on things even beyond lighting, like humidity, temperature and generic room-occupancy, providing an overall view for management staff. In some scenarios, LEDs can essentially become a li-fi system replacing traditional wi-fi, even delivering targeted information to nearby smartphones (see IIoT article).
On the construction side, structured cables like CAT 5 are considered Class 2, which is under 60 volts and less of a shock or startle hazard than Class 1 wiring. According to IEEE 802.3 standards, Class 2 installations don’t require licensed electricians, conduit or metal cladding. PoE’s more efficient power usage, quicker , safer, simpler installations, lower labor costs and smart-compatibility make a real impact to the bottom line.
Of course there are limits such as power and efficiency loss when high powered appliances are run at the end of long cable spans. But when used right the benefits far outweigh these issues. According to industry experts, facilities can expect a minimum of 15% savings in total cost of ownership over a 10-year period when using LED lights, controls and PoE together. On top of all this, PoE offers a perfect fit for the IoT (Internet of Things).
If you’re interested in maximizing PoE technology, contact structured cabling experts that provide value added solutions to your industry.