Power over Ethernet (PoE) offers convenience, flexibility, and enhanced management capabilities by enabling power to be delivered over the same CAT5 cabling as data. This technology is especially useful for powering IP telephones, wireless LAN access points, cameras with pan tilt and zoom (PTZ), remote Ethernet switches, embedded computers, thin clients and LCDs.
The original IEEE 802.3af-2003 PoE standard provides up to 15.4 W of DC power (minimum 44 V DC and 350 mA) supplied to each device. The IEEE standard for PoE requires Category 5 cable or higher (can operate with category 3 cable for low power levels).
The updated IEEE 802.3at-2009 PoE standard also known as PoE+ or PoE plus, provides up to 25.5 W of power.
Although 2009 standard prohibits a powered device from using all four pairs for power, some vendors have announced products that claim to be compatible with the 802.3at standard and offer up to 51 W of power over a single cable by utilizing all four pairs in the Category 5 cable. The trend for power demands seem to be up.
Compliance to Power-over-Ethernet safety standards is critical when moving beyond 60W (EE Times)and Compliance with POE safety standards is critical when moving beyond 60W (EDN) articles tells that the current generation of standards-based technology enables up to 60 watts of power to be delivered over four pairs of cabling, which also improves efficiency when compared to earlier two-pair solutions. Compliance with POE safety standards is critical when moving beyond 60W.
As the industry moves toward delivering even more power over the CAT5-or-better cabling infrastructure, system designers and network administrators alike, need to understand various emerging technology options. Some new options can bring expensive and cumbersome deployment complications and, potentially, safety risks.
Some manufacturers have touted their own 100W-per-port solutions or even 200W/port solutions that are not safe. The use of a standard Ethernet-cabling infrastructure for a single port delivering greater than 100W is simply not safe under the NEC standard. The only safe approach for powering devices over Ethernet cabling is to follow IEEE802.3at-2009 specifications. Moving beyond the LPS requirement (sub-100W/port LPS requirement of IEC 60950-1:2011) to greater-than-100W/port implementations requires that the cables be protected with special flame-resistant conduit. A metal enclosure is required if the total PD load is greater than 100W for information data equipment, or greater than 15W for TV and audio equipment.
One standardized 100W solution is one used by HDBaseT Alliance. HDBaseT Alliance is develops 100W power specifications for products that transport uncompressed, high-bandwidth multimedia content, 100BaseT Ethernet, power, and various control signals through a single LAN cable. The key differences between the HDBaseT-powering approach and those from other independent manufacturers pursuing higher power levels are that it:
- Complies with the section 33.7.1 of the IEEE802.3at-2009 standard, which mandates that all PSEs conform to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60950-1:2001 specifications including classification as a Limited Power Source (LPS) carrying no more than 100 volt-ampere (VA) – or 100W – per port without the need for special over-current protection devices, and
- Performs Powered Device (PD) detection followed by PD classification to determine a PD’s consumed power level prior to its ignition.
In a typical HDBaseT implementation, the PSE is installed and powered by a 50 to 57-volt DC power supply, and all PDs receive power directly over the HDBaseT link across all four pairs of CAT5-or-better cables. Additionally, core PoE technology has been enhanced for HDBaseT to use a 1 amp current for every two cabling pairs, 3-event classification to identify compliant PSEs, and identify the cable length/resistance (draw more power when required not exceeding 100W, rather than assuming a worst-case cabling infrastructure at all times). This enables HDBaseT technology to transfer of up to 100W of continuous DC power, per port, from one side of the HDBaseT link to the other.
HDBaseT’s ability to deliver up to 100W of power (over 100m, via a single LAN cable, without any additional power source) is actually very nicely aligned with trends in energy usage and demand. The power level is more than adequate for supporting today’s typical 40-inch LED TV, which requires 70W of power. It is expected that both LCD and LED TV monitors will soon be averaging approximately one watt of power consumption per inch of screen size. Regardless of screen size EnergyStar™ 6.0 is targeting a cap of 85 W for all screen sizes.
PoE continues to evolve and offer an even wider variety of high-value power-delivery and management capabilities.