Industrial Power over Ethernet
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Frequently Asked Questions about Industrial PoE
What is the difference between PoE, PoE+, and PoE++?
PoE (power over Ethernet) is a reliable technology that delivers power and data over a single Ethernet cable for LANs. PoE comes in three strengths:
- PoE: This technology was first defined in 2003 by the IEEE 802.3af standard. When functioning as a PSE, a PoE switch can support a maximum power consumption of up to 15.4W per PoE port and has a voltage range between 44V and 57V.
- PoE+: This technology is an upgrade of the IEEE 802.3at standard and was published in 2009. PoE+ supports devices that have higher power consumption. A PoE+ switch delivers up to 25.5W for a PD with a voltage range from 50V to 57V.
- PoE++: To provide even more power, PoE+ was upgraded to PoE++ (IEEE 802.3bt) in 2018. This technology has two classification types: Type 3 and Type 4. Type 3 uses two or all four twisted pairs in a copper cable. Type 4 delivers power over four twisted pairs in an Ethernet cable. A PoE++ switch delivers up to 60W on each port under Type 3 or up to 100W under Type 4.
Can a PoE switch be used as a regular switch?
Yes, it happens all the time. PoE will only send power if a device requests it. If PoE is not asked for, the PoE switch will function just like a regular switch.
What is a PoE splitter?
PoE splitters are used in conjunction with PoE switches and PoE injectors. A splitter separates power from data, feeding it into a separate input. This technology can be used with both legacy and low-power devices. A PoE splitter enables a non-PoE device to be upgraded to PoE.
What is the difference between a PoE switch and a regular switch?
The primary difference between a PoE switch and a regular switch is access to Power over Ethernet, as a regular switch is not PoE-enabled. However, a regular switch can be made PoE compliant by connecting it to a PoE injector or PoE splitter.
Networks located in environments that are not climate-controlled need hardened equipment that can survive challenges such as wide temperature variations, moisture, dust, dirt, other foreign substances, etc. In addition, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology offers both data connection and electrical power to powered devices (PDs) through just one cable. The industrial network, which includes a PoE switch, extender, injector, and surge protector, is a crucial component of any smoothly running harsh environment network. The goal of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide to Industrial PoE networking components.
What is PoE?
Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology is a networking protocol defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.3af (PoE), 802.3at (PoE+), and 802.3bt (PoE++) standards. This technology sends 10/100/1000 megabits per second (Mbps) of data and 15/30/60 watts (W) of power budget over Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet cables for a maximum distance of 100 meters (m).
A PoE device has the PoE function built into it. PoE-capable devices come in different categories: power sourcing equipment (PSE), powered devices (PDs), or in some cases, both. The device that supplies the power is the PSE, while the device that receives the power is the PD. In most cases, PSEs are either network switches or PoE injectors that are used with non-PoE switches.
One of the benefits of PoE is the simplicity of installation. The services of an electrician are not required as both data and power transmit to devices using one Ethernet cable: Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6A. Cables used in a server room may be Cat7 and beyond, as the speeds for certain processes may need to be extremely fast.
Here are some noteworthy statistics:
- There will be 41 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices by the year 2027.
- Every second, another 127 devices are connected to the internet.
- Companies will invest up to $1.1 trillion in IoT by 2023.
That is a lot of devices—many of which are powered by PoE. Here is a list of the primary devices that currently use power from the Ethernet:
Low Watt PoE Devices
- VoIP phones: These devices utilize the internet to provide telephone service instead of the standard pair of direct copper wires.
- Internet Protocol (IP) cameras: These digital video cameras are similar to webcams; they transmit and receive data over a network or the internet.
- Wireless access point (WAP): This networking device creates a wireless local area network (WLAN) that allows Wi-Fi devices to connect to a wired network, enabling remote connectivity.
- Thin Clients: These devices are computers that have no localized hard drive. Instead, they work by being remotely connected to a centralized server.
- Audio devices: Many amplifiers can use a PoE/PoE+ switch to generate the power needed to drive a speaker. A PoE-enabled speaker can cover more significant areas and overcome higher ambient noise levels than standard speakers.
- Remote computer terminals: PoE-enabled computers significantly reduce the need for electrical outlets because power is delivered over a single Ethernet cable.
High Watt PoE Devices
- TVs: The latest PoE standard (IEEE 802.3bt-Type 4) can power some energy-efficient SMART TVs.
- Computer monitors: An example of these devices is the panel PC, which is now becoming standard for checking-in to medical facilities, leisure facilities, activity centers, and Airbnb properties.
What is industrial PoE?
Industrial PoE is similar to standard PoE technology. The primary difference between the two is that industrial PoE devices have hardened casings designed to protect them from things like moisture and dirt that can corrode interior parts, leading to functionality difficulties or the destruction of the device altogether.
Industrial PoE vs. Regular PoE
The electronic components of an integrated circuit board (PCB) are not designed for harsh environments. Regular PoE devices work well in clean, climate-controlled surroundings such as an office.
But what happens to these devices when they are exposed to freezing temperatures? What if they are exposed to the rain? Or what if they live on a dirty factory floor?
This is where industrial-grade PoE equipment comes into the picture. Hardened industrial PoE devices are designed to deal with extreme heat, acute cold, water, dust, and dirt—and they are vital to rugged environments. To prevent network failure, every component in an industrial PoE device is designed and tested to ensure it can handle demanding environments. For example, industrial PoE switches meet International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards and are often designed to meet Ingress Protection Code (IP code) IP 30 or IP 67 standards.
What type of Industrial PoE equipment should I buy?
The Industrial PoE Switch
Techopedia defines “switch” as follows:
A switch, in the context of networking, is a high-speed device that receives incoming data packets and redirects them to their destination on a local area network (LAN). . . Essentially, switches are the traffic cops of a simple local area network. Switching establishes the trajectory for the frames as the data units and how the data moves from one area of a network to another.1
There are two basic types of industrial PoE switches: unmanaged and managed. Deciding which of these is best suited for your specific needs and budget can be a bit confusing. So, here is some information that will help you cut through some of the complexity.
What is an unmanaged industrial PoE switch?
Unmanaged industrial PoE switches are basic, plug-and-play devices with no remote configuration, management, or monitoring options. These switches have a built-in Quality of Service (QoS) service to ensure they work well and have basic security measures, such as a lockable port cover to ensure the device is not tampered with. However, an unmanaged industrial PoE switch is never recommended for networks that handle sensitive information as these are basic, no-frills devices.
What is a managed industrial PoE switch?
A managed industrial PoE switch provides the most comprehensive levels of management, configuration, and security available. These devices have features such as user traffic prioritization, network partitioning, connecting to different types of networks, and traffic monitoring. Managed PoE switches provide QoS that is far beyond any offered by an unmanaged industrial PoE switch.
Security measures include:
- Private virtual local area networks (VLANS)
- Secure management (through SCP, Web-based Authentication, Radius/TACAS AAA, etc.)
- Control Plane Policing (CoPP)
- Rich support for 802.1x
Layer 2 vs. Layer 3 PoE Switch
The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model is used to describe a network system’s functions. There are seven layers that help us visualize how networks operate. This article will concentrate on the Data Link Layer (Layer 2) and the Network Layer (Layer 3). When choosing an industrial PoE switch, you will need to select a Layer 2 model or a Layer 3 model.
The difference between these two layers has to do with their routing functions.
Layer 2 PoE switches use a device’s Media Access Control (MAC) address to decide where to forward frames. This is known as static routing.
Layer 3 switches can do static and dynamic routing, as they have both MAC address and Internal Protocol (IP) routing tables. In addition, this switch operates intra-VLAN communication and packets routing between different VLANS.
When deciding which Layer type to choose, it is important to consider these key factors:
- Forwarding (throughput) rate
- Backbone bandwidth
- Number of VLANs
- MAC memory
It should be noted that Layer 3 routing protocol is becoming more critical in industrial networks.
Additional Factors to Consider When Choosing an Industrial PoE Switch
How many ports do I need?
The number of ports on a switch can vary from 4-port models to 54-port models. When purchasing an industrial PoE switch, it is wise not only to consider your present needs but also to anticipate your future needs. You will need a switch with enough wired RJ45 connections for each internet connection, with a few more available for the future. In general, 4-port and 8-port models will work for a home network, while the 24-port and 45-port models are sufficient for a business, data center, or industrial environment..
How much speed will my Industrial PoE switch provide?
PoE switches come in four speed categories:
- Fast Ethernet: 10/100 Mbps
- Gigabit Ethernet: 10/100/1000 Mbps
- Ten Gigabit: 10/100/1000/10000 Mbps
- 40/100 Gbps
Speed is everything. For most industrial settings and other enterprises, the use of Gigabit Ethernet or higher is the way to go.
What about power consumption?
It is vital to estimate the amount of power it will take to operate all your PDs before searching for an industrial PoE switch, as their total power consumption must not exceed the maximum power supply of the PoE switch.
For example: If you purchase a 4-port PoE switch that complies with IEEE 802.3at/af standard, the switch will have a power budget of 60W. Therefore this switch can simultaneously connect four 15W devices (4x 15W=60W)—OR—two 30W devices (2x30W=60W).
Do I have to worry about PoE compatibility?
All PoE switches do not work with all PDs. You must ensure that you purchase a switch that will work with your devices. Here’s what to look for:
- Be sure the PoE switch supports the same PoE standard required by your PDs. For example, if your PDs use the PoE+ standard, then your PoE switch must be PoE+, too.
- Confirm that the power supply modes of the switch and the PD are the same. If a PD is designed for PoE mode A, but the PoE switch you are looking at is designed for mode B, they will not work together.
- Make sure your PDs are not locked into working only with PSEs produced by a specific manufacturer.
What type of redundancy will I need for my network?
Here’s the question: Should I buy one 16-port PoE switch or go with two 8-port models?
To make this decision, you need to evaluate things like the urgency of uptime, network management, space availability, and, of course, your budget. If these variables are not prohibitive, then the best choice will usually be to purchase the two 8-port models.
Generally speaking, redundancy improves reliability. It’s simple: If you have a single switch and it experiences a failure, your whole network goes down. If you have two switches and one experiences problems, only half of your network goes down.
Redundancy is always an important consideration, especially if you manage sensitive personal or financial data.
What level of technical support will I need?
Determining the amount of technical support you will need after your purchase is vital. With some purchases, there will be a limited window of time allotted for configuring or troubleshooting. And in some cases, no technical support will be offered at all.
You may even need to be prepared for the fact that it will be necessary to contract with an outside support team to get the help you require. Settling this aspect of your purchase will save time, money, and frustration in the long run.
A Short Word About Cables
We recommend using Ethernet cables that use oxygen-free wire as they offer less power and signal loss. The maximum transmission length between a PoE switch and a PD is 100m (328 ft.). The further the distance between the devices, the weaker the signal gets. Should you need a longer transmission distance, a PoE extender is the answer. More about this later.
Why We Recommend That Your Network Needs an Industrial Managed PoE Switch
We strongly recommend the use of a managed industrial PoE switch over an unmanaged switch. Simply put: A managed switch is always the best solution. Here’s why:
- Industrial managed switches have port security that can disable ports and prevent unauthorized access. This greatly minimizes the threat of a virus and prevents unauthorized users from wreaking havoc on your network.
- Industrial managed switches have redundancy which protects a network should a connection or cable fail by providing an alternative traffic path for data. The feature helps prevent costly downtime.
- Another feature of a managed industrial PoE switch is QoS. This function enables the prioritization of local area network (LAN) traffic, ensuring that the most important data gets through. This allows for consistent network performance by preventing other network traffic from causing a malfunction.
- Managed industrial PoE switches can create private VLANs that allow the segmentation and isolation of network traffic. This feature dramatically improves network performance and is an additional security measure as well.
- Managed industrial PoE switches use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to monitor network services’ traffic and performance—even remotely if desired. This allows for quick problem detection and repair.
The Industrial PoE Injector
An industrial PoE injector exists to add PoE functionality to non-PoE switches to work with PoE devices. It can be used to send data using up to 100W of PoE to connected devices where there is no AC or DC power available. Devices like security cameras and Wireless Access Points (WAPS) are often found in areas with no electrical wiring, such as exterior walls, ceilings, light posts, pipelines, and kiosks. The hardened casing connects industrial fiber in harsh environments. These devices deploy quickly and are easy to maintain, allowing power management for 802.3bt PoE. Similar to industrial PoE switches, industrial PoE injectors come in two types: unmanaged and managed.
The Industrial PoE Extender
Many networks span large distances, such as hotels, shopping malls, academic campuses, sports venues, etc. Connectivity in these types of settings can be a challenge and often call for hardened PoE devices.
The basic distance limit for twisted-pair Ethernet is 100m (328 ft). Just as the name suggests, industrial PoE extenders extend and supply up to 30W of PoE to connected devices using standard Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables up to 3km (1.9 miles) and are hardened to protect them from rugged environments.
The Industrial PoE Surge Protector
Here is how Techopedia defines a surge protector:
A surge protector is an electrical device that is used to protect equipment against power surges and voltage spikes while blocking voltage over a safe threshold (approximately 120V). When a threshold is over 120V, a surge protector shorts to ground voltage or blocks the voltage. Without a surge protector, anything higher than 120V can create component issues, such as permanent damage, reduced lifespan of internal devices, burned wires, and data loss.2
PoE equipment that is mounted outdoors is a risk for high-voltage surge events. These PoE devices act as lightning rods. As the voltage passes through the copper Ethernet cables, it can be dangerous to both equipment and personnel. For this reason, industrial-hardened PoE surge protectors are vital risk-reducing equipment.
The best solution for outdoor devices is to employ two inline surge protectors for each device. One surge protector should be installed near your switch or router. This protects against voltage entering your building and damaging inside equipment. The other surge protector needs to be hardened equipment that is placed near your outside device to protect it.