Is Your Network Cabling Ready for Next-Gen PoE?

November 19, 2015 / General, Standard and Certification, Industrial Networks

IEEE 802.3bt continues to specify higher power levels to be delivered along cabling that was traditionally designed for purely data distribution, presenting exciting possibilities for the future, however PoE is only part of today’s bigger picture regarding how we are transmitting power.

Applications such as LED lighting are becoming commonplace, providing both illumination and the ability to actively manage the workplace to achieve benefits far beyond the obvious energy efficiency of the bulbs. These applications are often designed to work with IEEE protocols, but increasingly manufacturers of these systems are creating custom specifications for power delivery, which in some cases totally remove any data requirements.

Other forms of DC Power distribution are also gaining in popularity as large numbers of these devices we use all require DC power. Phones, laptops, monitors and many other devices all function on DC and require separate power supplies, each using resources to manufacture and each reducing energy efficiency as they transform AC to DC.

Standards and codes of practice are emerging, for example the recent IET “Code of Practice for Low and Extra Low Direct Current Power Distribution in Buildings”, that cover the installation of systems that deliver DC power that utilize both telecommunications and other types of cabling. This blurring of the traditional demarcation between data and power has many standards groups starting to address new uses and propose possibilities for installations where DC distribution is a significant portion and in some cases totally replace AC systems. The work is not limited to telecommunication groups but has a great impact for those responsible for the wiring regulations, as AC, DC, and PoE all play a part in power distribution.

The IEEE 802.3bt project has highlighted the importance of the new parameters such as “Resistance Unbalance Between Pairs”, which has been adopted by both TIA and ISO cabling standards, and which were not traditionally specified or measured during installations. Such rapidly developing standards, applications and requirements make it all the more important that the end user ask questions related to the intended use of their system and to ensure that the installed cabling system is qualified to support their needs.