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Amazing Wires

There’s no doubt about it, networks involve a lot of wires.  Networks need to transmit data, and they need power to do so.  That means a maze of wires and cables to make it all work.  There is a way to reduce some of that through shared cabling (transmitting power and data across the same wire).  Since the approval of IEEE 802.3af: Power over Ethernet (PoE) in 2003 and the subsequent IEEE 802.3at: PoE Plus in 2009, the popularity of doing just that has been growing rapidly. PoE Plus is expected to become the new global standard for power cabling, replacing the AC adapters, sometimes charmingly referred to as “wall warts,” and other power sources that have been the norm. The advantages are numerous, specifically power demand management, minimal wiring, and power surge/brownout protection.  The IEEE is in the process of approving yet another standard, IEEE 802.3az, known as Energy Efficient Ethernet.  The goal of this standard is a reduction in power usage of 50% or more while maintaining compatibility with existing equipment.  When you put all this together with the number of PoE Plus capable devices available in the industrial sector, the opportunities are enormous. PoE Plus is laying the groundwork for eventually fully powering SCADA computer systems (industrial, infrastructure, or facility-based processes) from ports on Ethernet switches.  PoE Plus is sometimes the only viable way of extending power to extended areas of the network.  Devices such as IP phones, security scanners, PA systems, video surveillance cameras, door card readers and the like are already benefitting from the use of PoE Plus.  PoE Plus requires the use of Cat5e, 8 conductor cable over the previous standard of Cat3 which allows more power to be transmitted.  The current maximum power standard is 25.5W.  While some manufacturers have developed products with even more power capability, it is recommended to follow the prescribed standards.  Care must be used when selecting products outside the approved power rating. Falcon Technologies has a wide array of PoE Plus products.  Of particular note is an 8 port switch with POE built into 4 of the ports (Part# SWI-8-100-POE), and an adapter that will provide PoE where there currently isn’t any (Part# DWL-P200).