Make Friends With PoE: Building connectivity with standardized power delivery

A guest interacts with the smart mirror inside a bathroom at The Sinclair hotel. | Sinclair Holdings LLC
A guest interacts with the smart mirror inside a bathroom at The Sinclair hotel. | Sinclair Holdings LLC
Published On
Mar 15, 2021

Power over ethernet (PoE) could be your new best friend, especially if you’re expanding a security contracting business with the internet of things (loT), smart cities or industry 4.0 automation products and systems.

As businesses look for increased connectivity between more products and streamlined integrations, PoE allows systems integrators to deliver nearly 100 watts (W) of power over a single cable. Types 1, 2, 3 and 4 of standardized PoE are associated with the amount of power they supply. The latest standard, IEEE 802.3bt, published in January 2019, defines two additional categories of power sourcing equipment (i.e., PoE switch) and power device (i.e., IP cameras) Type 3 (60W) and Type 4 (100W) power variants.

With growing power capabilities, PoE is a fit for a host of applications and devices that require data communications and power, including access control, locks/sensors, intrusion control panels, IP pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, VoIP phones, wireless access points, storage devices, displays/monitors/signage, smart clocks, intercoms, smart LED lighting, point-of-sale kiosks, professional AV equipment, distributed speaker systems, industrial sensors for manufacturing and logistics, occupancy detection, medical devices and more.

PoE brings technology to remote or impossible-to-reach places and the reduced installation footprint gets high marks for green building with enhanced signaling on a single cable. The latest PoE standard with cabling architecture can be scaled out easily, along with the ability to use zone consolidation points to reduce the overall cost of adding or moving network cabling. For example, leveraging horizontal cabling and wireless access points, an array of high-powered PoE ports can serve IP PTZ cameras, lighting, digital signage and LCD displays.

Market boost

Research from Global Market Insights, Selbyville, Del., estimates the PoE market will grow by 2025, with a “surge in the usage of PoE-compatible devices.” The IoT connectivity application segment held a major portion of the PoE market in 2018 and is expected to dominate with a share of more than 30% in 2025, the report stated.

“As the use of IoT technology in manufacturing, retail, healthcare and transportation industry verticals is increasing, the deployment of PoE-enabled switches and routers providing gigabit speed to connected devices will also surge,” according to the research.

PoE in action

New installations leveraging PoE are beginning to proliferate the integrated systems world. Billed as the world’s first all-digital hotel, The Sinclair in Fort Worth, Texas, opened in January 2020 in a historic art deco building. The hotel uses PoE technology to enable in-room amenities such as smart electric mirrors, wallpaper televisions, digital showers and window shades. In-room network occupancy sensing technology using Bluetooth mesh automates and customizes in-room experiences such as lighting, locks and the minibar. The battery-powered backup system replaces the need for a diesel-powered generator.

In another emerging use-case, San Diego’s first PoE project at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center was unveiled in September 2020. The PoE system powers the building’s lighting and routes data to the building’s management system. The project boasts other smart building features, such as asset tracking, remote control of HVAC and access/security systems, data acquisition at the room level and the ability to manage features by smartphone.

Independent testing

As with many new standards, systems integrators are often left questioning what products are vetted and tested to work in accordance with the specification so they can make proper use of increased power delivery.

According to the Ethernet Alliance, Beaverton, Ore., the ethernet ecosystem needed a reliable, independent testing resource to help eliminate market confusion between IEEE 802.3-based solutions and proprietary powering systems, minimize interoperability issues and fuel a positive user experience.

With test procedures based on the IEEE 802.3 PoE specifications, the Ethernet Alliance launched the Gen 2 PoE Certification program that incorporates testing and certification of equipment developed to IEEE 802.3bt types 3 and 4.

Product testing opened to the public in July 2020 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab, Durham, N.H. After undergoing testing procedures, devices are eligible to receive EA Certified 2.0 approval and are added to the organization’s public certified product registry.

PoE is the systems integrator’s answer to integrating more products effectively while increasing connected solutions.

About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer

O’MARA writes about security, life safety and systems integration and is managing director of DLO Communications. She can be reached at dlocommunications@gmail.com or 773.414.3573.

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