Everything You Need To Know About PoE (Power over Ethernet) Technology

Most hosted or cloud-based communications systems require Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality.

What is PoE?

Power over Ethernet technology enables network cables to carry electrical power. Many network devices today (such as printers, security cameras, or computers) require two cables – one to connect the device to the network, and one to connect it to electrical power.

A device that is PoE-enabled requires only one cable that acts as both the network connection and the power connection.

Where is PoE Used?

PoE is most commonly used with:

  • Hosted phone systems – With PoE, phones can have a single connection to an electrical wall socket and can be powered down remotely.
  • Security/surveillance cameras – PoE enables fast deployment and easy repositioning.
  • Wireless networks – PoE functionality enhances the wireless network by providing data and electricity over the same ethernet cable, and greatly simplifies installation.

Why Use PoE?

There are significant advantages to adding PoE to your system installation. Here are 5:

  1. Flexibility – Devices can be placed where you want them rather than being dependent on where electrical power cables are installed. Combining PoE with wireless technology makes a nearly cable-free environment possible.
  2. Protection – PoE technology protects network equipment from overload, underpowering, or incorrect installation.
  3. Reliability – Because PoE power comes from a central source (rather than a collection of distributed wall adapters) and is separate from the data signal, there is no interference. It can be backed up by an uninterruptible power supply. Disabling or resetting devices is easy.
  4. Save Time & Costs – Less cabling means less time and cost for installation. A qualified electrician is not required to fit network cables.
  5. Scalability – Installation and distribution of additional network connections is simple because power is already available on the existing network.

How to Add PoE to Your Network

A common method for adding PoE to your network requires a PoE switch. A PoE switch is a network switch that detects PoE-compatible devices and enables PoE power automatically. Simply connect your PoE switch to a power connection, then connect your network devices to the PoE. All of your devices will receive power and network data via the PoE switch.

Managed vs. Unmanaged PoE Switches

There are two main types of PoE switches: managed and unmanaged. Both are useful and serve a purpose, but there are differences in price and functionality.

Unmanaged

Considerably less costly than managed PoE switches, unmanaged PoE switches simply allow you to provide power and network signaling to your PoE-enabled devices. Unmanaged switches are very easy to use (simply plug-and-play), but are quite limited in functionality.

Managed

Managed PoE switches do cost more than their unmanaged counterparts, but their functionality is more robust. These devices allow you to configure and manage your local network, giving you the ability to control and prioritize traffic. They also give you a greater capacity to troubleshoot remotely.

A managed PoE switch is the recommended choice for hosted phone solutions.

To learn more about PoE, to find out which PoE-integrated devices are available, or to discuss the possibility of an upgrade for your system, contact a UnitedCloud specialist.