Integrated Systems: The Power Equation and PoE

New day dawning—and it’s all good

Many in the security industry are waiting with baited breath to hear what really is developing with the new Power over Ethernet (PoE) Plus Standard, slated for ratification sometime in 2009 (although some hint that date may change). Others express little concern as to when the PoE Plus Standard will be available but instead choose to focus on its benefits and how to leverage the technology for their users. Some believe there is a debate raging over PoE and others still are creating their own standards instead of abiding by the one that already exists. Still, there are others who do think PoE is pretty black and white—that the technology that allows users to leverage the existing network and now, accomplish more functions than ever, PTZ for cameras, etc. says it all. We’ve gone straight to the experts on this topic to give you the answers you need to know.

Is there something beyond PoE Plus?

Power over Ethernet, defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as standard 802.3af has been around since about 2003. Most recently, there has been a lot of buzz in the industry about the new PoE Plus Standard, which is supposed to provide up to 30 watts more power to each network device, up from the 12.95 and 15 Watt range that many PoE devices are using right now. The goal is to provide greater power for surveillance applications using cameras supporting PTZ, access control systems and more. At the recent ISC West show in Las Vegas, some were already speculating that the ratification of the new PoE Plus standard may end up being pushed back a year. Although there has been no formal announcement from IEEE announcing such a delay, some in the industry are not brokenhearted over the news.

“Right now, IP is viewed as more favorable in the industry than PoE,” said Alan Forman, president of Altronix, Brooklyn, N.Y. “We want to be there when it [PoE] is small so that we have time to help develop the products. And when PoE really does take off, we’re going to be ready for it.”

Some even speculate that it won’t stop there--that there will be a standard that offers even more power beyond that of PoE Plus. Increasing technological developments including card readers and door keypads, temperature and pressure sensors that are IP equipped and driven from a PoE connection will become more present into 2010, according to Bob Martin, manager of Marketing and Business Development, EtherWAN Systems, Anaheim, Calif.

What causes the misconception?

There is no denying that PoE is crucial—you need power for video on the network. Yet, it is not uncommon for the majority of manufacturers or PoE product developers to forgo the general standards when it comes to PoE. For many in the industry right now, this just adds to the confusion, causing many to misunderstand what benefits the technology offers as well as all the application possibilities.

According to Paul Koebbe, strategic sales executive-Security, Henkels & McCoy (H&M) Networks, Maryland Heights, Mo., there is confusion over PoE versus power over copper. “The folks who are running analog video over unshielded twisted pair (UTP), companies which are putting the transceivers out there that allow us to run analog video over structured cabling, are frequently putting power on that cabling as well. There is a bit of misconception in the industry that this is PoE--and in reality, it’s not,” explained Koebbe. “PoE follows a very defined set of rules that occur as the device powers itself up. One of the things that people see is power coming over that RJ45 jack in structured cabling and they automatically assume that it’s PoE, but it’s not.”

Standards are established so there is a common base to work from. But according to Joe Burke, president and CEO, Quasar Technologies, Kennesaw, Ga., the problem with those standards is that they aren’t always consistent with the requirements of the application.

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