The industry’s insatiable appetite for
greater power—and an
increased emphasis on converged system solutions—has
resulted in the release of another
standard for PoE, IEEE 802.3at. Also
referred to as “PoE Plus” or “PoE+,”
it provides enhanced power delivery up
to 30W for more power-hungry products,
such as motorized PTZ network cameras,
Still another emerging option is High-PoE,
which can deliver up to 60W over the same infrastructure by using special midspan injectors to
transmit two separate 30W PoE+ feeds. A midspan
is an intermediary device between a non-PoE-capable
switch and a PoE device. As camera capabilities and functionality continue to increase, this technology will become
more prevalent, and a developing IEEE High-PoE standard
will continue to raise the possibilities and uses of Ethernet for
According to Joseph Holland, co-founder and vice president of
engineering for LifeSafety Power Inc., Mundelein, Ill., PoE continues to grow in popularity and deployment as camera manufacturers
scramble to reduce power consumption needed for motorized domes and
heaters, for example. Power levels and data rates have increased; power
levels will rise further with the standard’s introduction, he said.
This latest higher power implementation of the current standard 802.3at
is due to be released in 2017 or 2018.
“It’s currently in the draft stage, and they are making great progress on
Holland said higher wattages have allowed the support of even higher
it,” Holland said. “It opens the door for new specifications not only in the
security industry but for custom electronics installers, as audio and video
will be able to be powered by PoE.”
High-PoE IEEE 802.3bt will pave the way for devices that require 50W
or more, and the specification is supposed to be able to handle up to
100W, he said.
“An example of one product that requires higher power is CCTV camera
illuminators,” he said. “The new standard will also apply more wholly to
access-control systems as opposed to simply edge devices, such as readers.”
PoE has changed in other ways, ushering in products such as smart managed midspans that allow for more detailed networking functionality and the
ability to proactively address the system solution’s “health” and well being.
The role of midspans and PoE
“Managed midspans have become more popular due to their reporting and
control capabilities,” Holland said.
With simple network management protocol (SNMP), the midspan can
The midspan device provides a method to introduce PoE to the system
notify the network of a problem within the unit or a specific port. Port
control is possible through the management software, which can turn
ports off or on. In some cases, the software also provides the ability to
change port behavior based on power draw or port priorities. SNMP is an
Internet-standard protocol for collecting and organizing information about
managed devices on Internet protocol (IP) networks and remotely access-
ing that information.
exclusive of the network switches, thereby helping to keep heat out of
network data switches and extending their life.
“A midspan that offers full power [802.3af, 15.4W and/or 802.3at,
30W] per port is the best choice for future-proofing your network because, no matter what end device you want to add—more phones with
more functionality, security cameras with advanced functionality, PC
workstations—the power is available,” Holland said.
Ethernet switches are also an important aspect of the total PoE
equation, said Mark Prowten, vice president of sales and marketing for
Ether WAN Systems Inc., Anaheim, Calif.
“The Ethernet switch is the critical link between the cameras, network
video recorders [NVRs] and any computers that need access to video feeds,”
he said. “The Ethernet switch not only provides the data connectivity but
often provides the power to the IP cameras via [PoE].”
According to Prowten, Ethernet switches are the fundamental back-
bone of a LAN.
“The switch is the critical connectivity point for everything that
“These low-cost switches are usually unmanaged, meaning there is
needs to communicate. In other words, the switch creates the LAN,”
he said, adding that, without a switch, there isn’t a LAN. “Comput-
ers, laptops, printers, IP cameras, NVRs, IP phone systems [voice over
IP], Wi-Fi, building infrastructure and access control systems are now
put on the LAN. None of these systems could communicate without
Ethernet switches providing the connectivity. Network connectivity is
everywhere and goes well beyond the security industry. Ethernet is in
every industry and even our homes now.”
Prowten said contractors should steer clear of cheap or low-cost switch-
es because they do not provide the switching bandwidth performance or
enough PoE budget to power all of the cameras reliably.
no option to log into the switch to troubleshoot connectivity or PoE power
issues,” he said.
Ether WAN Systems works closely with its channel partners, dealers,
integrators and end-users to help spec the right products for the application.
“We also provide Ethernet 101, PoE, advanced Ethernet and group
trainings,” Prowten said. “Training can be done face to face at contractor
locations, via Web meeting, or at our HQ facility in Anaheim.”
PoE continues to grow in popularity and will evolve to embrace and
support a wide range of security and other integrated technologies in a
O’MARA is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at 773.414.3573 or