PoE: What is Power over Ethernet?

Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet, or PoE for short, is a feature that allows electrical power to be carried by network cables over an existing data connection. This means that network cables can pass electricity through them. For this to happen, a Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cable is needed. The job of this cable is to connect two devices together for the local network, as well as for internet network and file sharing. The company Cisco is credited with pioneering the PoE movement, when in 2000 they came up with the first ever successful system. There are many reasons for PoE’s rise to prominence, with the expansion of technology obviously a major factor.

Advantages of Power over Ethernet

Many devices are capable of PoE, including VoIP phones and network cables, and it harbours several advantages, especially over the traditional system which would include a separate power and LAN cable. The PoE systems are often described as cost efficient, as they eliminate the need for a fully qualified electrician to install. A traditional system would usually require a trained professional to install, which would be costly and less time efficient. One twisted pair cable delivers data and power to devices, as opposed to multiple leads. This means it is easy to implement, and fewer wires means less hassle.

The wires can also be moved and changed with ease, with their responsive nature making them simple to move and reconnect. They respond and adapt to the changing environment, eliminating the need for a network to be brought-down while changing them.

Disadvantages of Power over Ethernet

However, like all innovations, Power over Ethernet can be tarnished with a few issues. The distance of transmission, which is effectively how far the cable can spread, is reasonably short. This is due to the Ethernet cable standards, which limit the length to 100 metres. This is without considering badly made cables, and interference along the way from electrical noise. This impacts the usage of PoE, as it cannot be spread over huge distances.

A PoE Ethernet Extender can extend the reach up to 1,200 metres, which adds a significant expansion to the original length. This helps places like shopping centres and campuses centralise their control over the area. A shopping centre will benefit from centralised control as it would make things easier to command, as opposed to separate cables, where control would be difficult to maintain.

Smart Homes – a product of PoE’s success

A ‘smart home’ is described as a home equipped with lighting, heating and electronic devices that can be controlled by a smartphone or computer. Much like how campuses can centralise all their operations through PoE, the smart home is able to do the same. Everything can be controlled in its own way.

The PoE system is also accredited with helping families communicate. Systems such as virtual assistants can help large families through conveying messages and connecting appliances together. For example, several devices such as the Amazon Echo can offer a range of different services while in a PoE smart home, from ordering food when you’re running low to lowering lights when asked. This is extremely useful for a large family who can gain a helping hand through a stylishly designed system.

Finally, having a smart home means the overall carbon footprint can be reduced, as copper can be repurposed from old systems. This can only mean good for the future, with resources actively being re-used due to lack of need.

Interested in PoE?

Why not check out our website to see the Ideal PoE Pro Data Cable and Power-Over-Ethernet Verifier? Launched in 2019, this exciting new product is extremely useful for testing PoE systems and can help you verify power-over-ethernet systems. The product comes with a range of accessories than can be seen on our website and it solves the most common PoE pain-points. It is extremely easy to use and minimises your risk of incorrect readings.