Driving Security to News Heights

Providing safe, steady power, along with data to networked endpoint devices

According to a 2022 study conducted by Ponemon Institute, the average U.S. enterprise manages approximately 135,000 endpoint devices. Given that most, if not all of these devices require dependable power to maintain functionality, the need to deliver reliable power efficiently to devices, which is critical to building safety, security and comfort have never been higher.

Consider, no doubt, many of these endpoint devices are tied to video surveillance, access control, fire alarm and intrusion alarm systems that rely on power to perform critical life-saving functions. Moreover, the need to leverage network infrastructure to support physical security solutions has driven network infrastructure architects to ensure that their network designs are robust enough to provide for these important devices to operate on the facility’s planned infrastructure. The result is a growing requirement to provide safe, steady power along with data to an ever-increasing number of networked endpoint devices.

Power over Ethernet can be used in the deployment of a wide range of network-enabled security-related devices and systems. By leveraging IEEE standards for power delivery and data transmission over a single cable, PoE opened a world of possibilities in terms of system design and installation practices. With the introduction of the latest IEEE standard to accommodate even higher-powered network devices, the possibilities of expanding building security ecosystems to traditionally non-network devices raise the benefits offered by standard PoE to another level. 802.3bt PoE is a game-changer for System Designers as it allows for the use of more types of security devices and delivers further lowering the TCO of critical systems in ways not previously possible.

What is 802.3bt?
Also known as 4PPoE or 4-Pair PoE, 802.3bt PoE is the latest IEEE standard that specifies how power delivery to edge devices using all four pairs of wires found in standard Ethernet cables. By using all four pairs of conductors, this standard allows power-sourcing equipment to provide up to 90W of power per port, a substantial increase in power over previous IEEE PoE standards. 802.3bt also supports multiple PoE classes (up to Class 8) and is backward compatible for use with older PoE devices. In short, 802.3bt PoE power sourcing equipment can deliver power to even more devices, including multi-sensor IP PTZ cameras, intercom systems, door locks and access control hardware.

Benefits of 802.3bt
The 802.3bt standard builds upon the advantages of using PoE to power network devices by also allowing the use of PoE to support systems that previously required high-voltage AC power. For instance, traditional power supplies require a high voltage input that in turn, delivers a low voltage output. Low voltage powers access control hardware, door locks and ancillary devices. A licensed electrician must provide high voltage for traditional power supplies. However, with the introduction of the 802.3bt standard, a PoE-driven power supply may be used which effectively allows System Integrators to deploy critical systems utilizing low-voltage installation methods and techniques, where not possible previously. Using a PoE-driven power supply can obviate the need for high voltage and eliminate or greatly reduce the costs associated with and safety concerns surrounding traditional high-voltage installations.

Because the 802.3bt PoE standard requires compatible power sourcing equipment to provide 90W of power per port, 802.3bt inherently supports more devices and creates new opportunities to leverage PoE to the benefit of security professionals and the end customers they serve.

Enhanced Versatility
Power over Ethernet simplifies the installation and relocation of endpoint devices and provides more flexibility for system upgrades and expansions. The new 802.3bt standard goes further by exponentially increasing the number of deployed devices. By using power sourcing equipment that is 802.3bt compatible, it becomes possible to use a PoE-driven power supply to distribute both 12VDC and 24VDC power to access control system devices or any system installations that require a combination of 12- and 24-volt DC for operation.

PoE devices that demand more power are continually coming to market. For example, infra-red and white light LED illuminators, outdoor IP cameras with integral heaters and blowers, and some wireless access points require up to 90W for operation.

Time and Cost Efficiencies
Running a single low-voltage cable to provide both power and data connections is more beneficial than running two separate cables and/or requiring a high-voltage connection. By using multi-purpose CAT6E or higher cabling to deliver power to field devices, wire runs can leverage the same cable trays & wire paths as network cabling. High-voltage installations require single-purpose cabling and require conduit runs with added cost for dedicated electrical panel circuits.

The costs of a certified electrician, additional cabling, conduits, potential permits and added install time quickly add up. You can achieve lower TCO when using 802.3bt to power critical system devices.

Safety
PoE power is safer than high voltage. Reducing the need for high-voltage vastly improves safety for field technicians on installation, as well as future service and maintenance. Eliminating the need for high voltage delivered to access control, and power integration enclosures may remove the need for regulatory safety precautions such as lockout tag-out.

A key safety benefit of the IEEE PoE standard is that there is no voltage present on the cable from the power source until it plugs into a device that requires PoE power to operate. Simply unplugging the Ethernet cable from the PoE-driven power supply is completely safe. Furthermore, some multi-port 802.3bt compliant power injectors carry a UL294 listing for access control, ensuring safe operation in applications that require free egress during emergencies, and compliance in jurisdictions that require the listing. The IEEE PoE standard protects network equipment from improper or incorrect installation by communicating with powered devices to ensure that the specific device power requirements and prevents the PSE from providing too much or too little power.

Implementing 802.3bt
The benefits of implementing IEEE 802.3bt PoE vastly expands the IoT ecosystem, lowers installation labor costs, improves the TCO of critical systems and opens the potential for managed security services platforms which can significantly improve system up-time and overall safety and security of people and assets.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2022 issue of Security Today.

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