Power over Ethernet – what are the benefits? | ECA

Power over Ethernet – what are the benefits? | ECA

Shahid Khan, ECA Technical Manager, explains why contractors should take advantage of the considerable benefits of Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology.

The rapid digitisation of industry, smart buildings, data centres, and energy grids offers businesses huge potential to turn data into business opportunity.

By the end of 2018, there were an estimated 22 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices in use around the world, while Industrial IoT (connected devices in factories, warehouses etc.) is expected to add an astonishing £10.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Two in one
For the electrotechnical sector, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology offers a number of benefits. PoE means passing electrical power through an Ethernet cable alongside data. Devices which are PoE capable can therefore be connected to both a power source and a network through a single cable.

With IoT networks predicted to grow exponentially, power and data infrastructures will become increasingly complex. Clients will very soon need a solution that converges both power and data, which is why PoE will most likely shape the network ecosystem of tomorrow.

To thrive in this new environment, electrical designers and installers will need to have a solid grasp of the frameworks, lexicons, protocols and regulations surrounding PoE and IoT networks.

Poised to do more
Although PoE has been around for some time, until recently the technology was only capable of powering small devices with a low power demand of 15.4 to 30W, such as keypads, telephones, or alarm systems.

However, the last few years have seen PoE technology develop to such an extent that one cable can provide up to a 100W of power as well as high-speed data exchange, extending the reach of PoE to computers, televisions, high-power wireless networks, LED lighting, and more.

Eventually, PoE is set not only to underpin the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), but it may go on to encompass the industrial, commercial and domestic sectors.

Progress with PoE is continual. Manufacturers are now producing PoE systems that minimise power losses across the length of the power chain, from conversion at the PoE power sourcing equipment (PSE) output, through to delivery to the powered device (PD), and conversion back to the various required voltages.

Furthermore, significant efficiency (and cost) savings are possible when PoE is used on IoT networks in Building Energy Management Systems – a key consideration for building managers and electricians alike.

More (DC) power to you
The electrotechnical JPEL/64 BSI Committee continues to work for the inclusion of DC power over IT cables for Part 7 of the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671). ECA is closely involved in this work, and we will update members as we make progress in this increasingly important arena.

To make the most of this emerging market, however, contractors should ensure they’re in a position to advise clients on how to effectively utilise PoE in their buildings.

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