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10 Reasons to Choose PoE for Your Next Commercial Building
Learn why you should try Power over Ethernet.

View of skyrise commercial buildings with sunlight

 

For every commercial building, you want to find the best way to run power. Ordinarily, you’d designate an electrical system that stands independently from other networks and cabling. However, utilizing Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a smart way to supply electrical power through the network cables, typically with a Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a ethernet cable. It runs power right at the same time as it supplies data, making it a win-win for most commercial projects that need to manage multiple cabling systems at once. 


Is Power over Ethernet (PoE) the best choice for your next commercial building? Let’s take a look at the benefits to see if it will work for you.


1. It kills two birds with one stone.  

 

Blue ethernet cables plugged into network system box

 

With PoE, the same Cat5e/Cat6 standard Ethernet cables used for networks also carry electrical power. This eliminates the need for two separate connections. By combining both connections using an Ethernet cable, you only have one to worry about.

 

2. It’s easier, quicker and cheaper


PoE applications can help you cut down on time and cost. You don’t need to worry about installing separate electrical power cabling throughout the building. Because you’re only using one cable to cover multiple things, cost and labor drop significantly. It also works with existing copper telecom infrastructure and is cheaper than fiber. 

 

3. It can go anywhere


With PoE, flexibility is one of the main benefits. Because you aren’t stuck trying to sync up the equipment with outlets on the wall, you have the freedom to set up anywhere. PoE means you can set up devices in remote spots that you normally wouldn’t. You can also move things around easily if you need to reconfigure. As long as you have enough PoE capable devices in the system, you’re good. 

 

4. It expands without hassle


If someone eventually needs to expand the system, it’s much easier with PoE than with the traditional combination of power and network cabling. Because it’s flexible enough to go anywhere and doesn’t require a separate installation, they can add additional PoE enabled devices whenever and (almost) wherever they need to. 

 

5. It’s dependable


Don’t worry about typical electrical problems with PoE. It’s smart enough to protect the building’s equipment from overload. And because it moves the power supply from many wall adapters to one central source, it’s much easier to control and can be backed up with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) at the location of the single network wiring cabinet. 

 

6. It’s powerful


The latest standard of PoE is IEEE 802.3bt. Ratified last year, this standard now allows for up to 100 watts per port/cable. 


Previously, IEEE 802.3at allowed for devices to supply up to 30 watts per port. The first version, IEEE 802.3af maxed out at 15.4 watts per port. There is a little bit of power lost as the cable run gets longer, but you’re still looking at close to these maximums. 


The chart below shows the progression of PoE standards, but bear in mind that adoption to the latest iteration is evolving. 


PoE Standard

Watts per Port/Cable

Common Names

Year

Supported Devices

802.3bt

Type 3 (60W) and Type 4 (100W)

Type 3: 4-pair PoE, 4P PoE, PoE++, UPOE


Type 4: higher-power PoE

2018

TVs, computers, HVAC systems, laptops, video conferencing, building management devices

802.3at

Type 2 (30W)

PoE+, PoE Plus

2009

Surveillance cameras, LCD displays, tablets, biometric sensors, wireless access points with six antennas

802.3af

Type 1 (15.4W)

PoE, 2-pair PoE

2003

VoIP phones, sensors/meters, static surveillance cameras, simple wireless access points

 

7. You can mix and match


Just because you opt for some PoE-capable network switches to build your power supply, doesn’t mean you are limited to only PoE capable devices throughout it. You can also integrate non-PoE devices into the system or network, but they’ll need a traditional power source to run successfully.

 

8. There is plenty of PoE equipment


PoE can power Voice over IP (VoIP), Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and IP surveillance cameras—all called Powered Devices (PDs)—to name a few. PoE supports a wide range of devices, and many more are coming out every day. Devices are typically described as being PoE compatible, which refers to the IEEE 802.3af standard of PoE (not PoE+ or PoE++). 

 

9. It’s optimal for LED lighting

 

LED lighting string coiled on blue background

 

PoE is also becoming the main choice for power that runs to LED lighting. Instead of using a traditional electrical power source, PoE can support LEDs because of their low wattage needs. Since they only use about 15-20 watts of power, PoE can support them without trouble when compared to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that require 13-15 watts. Add PoE lighting to the mix, and the job is easier than ever. 


10. There’s an easy way to manage the cables

 

Black Cablofil wire mesh cable tray in ceiling at cross filled with cables in a data center installation

 

If you do choose to implement PoE, think about how you’ll manage the Ethernet cables in the building. An open system of wire mesh cable tray is ideal for PoE. Designed to support structured cabling, this system has been tested to withstand loads far beyond the average weight. It also allows cable bundles to be spread out in the tray, which provides better organization and heat dissipation. Depending on the amount of power, there are different recommendations for cable bundle sizes. These recommendations help regulate temperature, too. 


Additionally, an open wire mesh system is incredibly easy to set up, move or expand. It runs right to wherever you need it, and it’s easy to install right at the job site. Just a few simple cuts with a regular wire cutter, and an entire system can be designed quickly and without headache.  


How to Get Started with PoE

Two men in suits with hard hats standing in front of windows inside of a sunlit building looking at project plans

 

Deciding if you want to use PoE is completely up to you, but many commercial buildings have found that this hybrid connection is optimal for their needs. It’s able to supply the power they need, but it’s not complicated and isn’t high voltage. 

 

It can also power up LED lighting, which is an energy-efficient way to illuminate commercial spaces like offices and corporate campuses. And as smart devices like automated lighting, shading and HVAC continue to expand into commercial spaces, including offices and hotels, you’ll find that PoE is a perfect fit for this growing category of automation. 

 

If you want to start using PoE on your next commercial building, see if there’s a network administrator assigned to the project. If so, talk to them about using a PoE switch, which is a network switch with PoE built-in. PoE devices connect to this switch as they would to any other switch. It will automatically sense if it can run PoE to the devices, then do so. Another option is to use a PoE injector to add it to non-PoE network links, which will boost networks beyond 100 meters or 300 feet. You could also talk about using a PoE splitter, which patches in to a network connection and taps off PoE power to meet the requirement of the PDs. 

 

If there isn’t a network administrator on the job, that’s okay. Often times the networking is contracted out to a third party or is handled by the tenants of the building. The sooner you can have a conversation on this topic, the better since it will drastically change your electrical requirements. Work with the architect or project manager for your building to start this conversation early and they will be able to work alongside the low voltage contractor to come up with a plan.

 

If you have more questions on PoE applications and how Legrand supports the installations, reach out to your local Legrand representative or check out our “Smart Building” landing page.   

 

ABOUT LEGRAND

Legrand is a global specialist in electrical and network infrastructure solutions. Legrand transforms spaces where people live and work and delivers access to power, light and data to millions of spaces around the world.

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