44 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | JUN. 15 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
> FOCUS THE POWER OF POE
“There’s a minimum of 15 percent savings in total cost of
ownership over a 10-year period utilizing LED lighting, controls and PoE, a number that can be greater depending on the
type of system it’s being compared to as well as how you use
the lights—e.g., whether you install a control at every fixture,”
Goodman said that, through PoE, contractors will also benefit from a far less-complex installation process, especially in
areas where fixtures are difficult to access.
“You can pull these cables more easily because you only
need to pull a single wire, and the use of PoE may also simplify
the permit process because this falls under IT wiring,” he said.
At the same time, experts are quick to note the limitations of PoE as it relates to eligible appliances like lighting.
Among those, “PoE has limits as to the amount of power it
can transmit, which are generally never met by Class 1 wiring,” Savage said.
Sekinger said that other issues with PoE today involve
“efficiency losses in delivering power to the fixture, though
the savings PoE drives more than offset this concern and technological advancements are helping PoE to become even more
efficient while reducing line losses.”
Still, Kruse agrees that this downside currently renders PoE
less suitable for certain applications.
“Running a high-powered application such as a fluorescent
fixture at the end of a 300-foot-long cable results in a noticeable loss of power and efficiency,” Kruse said. “For shorter runs
where you have access to nearby IT cabinets or where you want
individual control over low-voltage lights like LEDs, however,
PoE makes sense.”
According to Sekinger, the compatibility of components
currently represents another issue that contractors have to
contend with when evaluating the feasability of PoE.
“PoE requires compatible nodes or drivers that sit on the
fixture or are mounted separately, and some fixtures are outside
of the bandwidth of PoE drivers today,” Sekinger said.
Among the group’s recommendations, Filanc urges contractors to follow local wiring codes to ensure that they’re not
putting an excessive load on the Ethernet cable and creating a
fire hazard, while Savage feels that contractors need to gravitate
toward UL-listed systems and not assume that “low-voltage”
always means intrinsically safe.
A bright future
Those considerations notwithstanding, industry experts say that
the future looks bright for PoE when applied properly.
“It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, but a matter of
when, and we encourage contractors to familiarize themselves
with PoE and get involved with projects that involve this platform,” Sekinger said.
In addition to several large data-component and lighting
manufacturers promoting PoE (such as Philips Lighting), there
are a few startups making LED fixtures for PoE sources.
“At Nextek, we’ve powered PoE injector-type power supplies from our system in addition to holding some relevant
patents in this area based on our tenure and experience in the
DC-power-systems space,” Savage said. “PoE is a fact of life
that’s becoming increasingly pervasive. Many electrical contractors already have ‘low-voltage’ divisions to capture this
business, and I believe we’ll see more and more of this.”
Many believe PoE will only grow in popularity.
“From a technological standpoint, the more PoE is adopted,
the more companies will develop products for it,” Kruse said of
the bright R&D horizon for this platform.
Goodman also voiced his agreement.
“While PoE is a completely different architecture, it
represents a phenomenal opportunity for the existing and
established lighting channel of agents, specifiers, contractors
and distributors, as well as some new IT players, to expand their
market basket of tools,” he said. “We urge them to embrace it.”
“With the growing demand to retrofit commercial buildings,
PoE technology will be helpful, and we’re not just talking about
better lighting or AC, but about full-building automation,” he
said. “For buildings containing multiple floors with multipurpose uses, building owners and contractors should look
at the data infrastructure and consider the use of PoE from a
cost and value-engineering perspective as it applies to systems
like VoIP, security cameras with pan-tilt-zoom capability, LED
lighting, and other wireless access points. If facilities need or
use these technologies, PoE can be a great option and a technology that really extends a contractor’s reach.
“With today’s systems requiring so many appliances, it’s
the perfect time for electrical contractors to consider a PoE
upgrade to ensure that their customer’s building is ready for
the 21st century,” Filanc said.
For more information on PoE, join the ‘Intelligent
Lighting Network’ on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/groups/
Intelligent-Lighting-Network-4390496/about or visit the
EMerge Alliance at www.emergealliance.org.
BLO OM is a 20-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products
industry. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“With today’s systems requiring
so many appliances, it’s the
perfect time for electrical
contractors to consider a PoE
upgrade to ensure that their
customer’s building is
ready for the 21st century.”
—Jim Filanc, Southern Contracting Co.