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How to deliver networking to hard-to-get locations using Power over Ethernet (PoE)

Power over Ethernet

Ever wondered how you’re going to deploy networking equipment to a specific area in your business? Perhaps it’s an outdoor location, or maybe you’re struggling for power sockets. Either way, Power over Ethernet has your back.

This “does what it says on the tin” technology enables you to use network equipment almost anywhere. Instead of relying on batteries to keep your devices running, PoE makes it possible to deliver both a network connection and a reliable supply of power through a standard Ethernet cable.

Thanks to the fact Ethernet cables can be up to 100 metres in length, you can see how PoE can make a real difference, and if has plenty of practical uses. Deploying equipment outdoors is the obvious solution: you could deploy a network security camera to monitor the front entrance to your office, or extend your Wi-Fi network to the roof terrace. But it has uses elsewhere too – why take up more power sockets than you need when a single PoE switch could supply both power and a network connection to all the VoIP phones in your office?

The network connection also enables PoE equipment to be controlled remotely, so you can reset it or power it down without leaving your desk. It’s also a safe, tested option: you can mix and match standard network equipment with PoE devices without damaging either, and the technology delivers power intelligently to avoid overloading (or underpowering) your devices.

What you’ll need

You’ll need a specialist PoE network switch to deliver the required power and connection to your networked equipment. Two-such models are the ASUS GP-105 and the ASUS GP-108. The GP-105 is a five-port solution, with four ports supporting PoE; all eight of the GP-108’s Gigabit Ethernet ports supports PoE.

Both switches support the two major PoE standards: 802.3af and 802.3at (also known as PoE+). These determine the maximum amount of power that can be delivered through a Cat cable: both ports can supply up to 30W per port, although there is a cap on the total amount available: 80W on the five-port model, and 130W on the GP-108.

Power over Ethernet

Don’t worry though, because a handy series of LEDs on the front lets you see how much power you have remaining. The GP-108 also prioritises power by port, so that you ensure critical devices (like your security camera) will always get the juice they need regardless of other power demands – just plug them into a higher priority port.

Installation made easy

You’ll also need to source network equipment specifically designed to support PoE – search for the item type (such as “security camera”) in conjunction with PoE or the 802.3af and 802.3at terms to help track them down.

When you select your equipment, make sure it comes with the appropriate safety standards such as IPX6 or IP67 if you plan to deploy it outdoors. You’ll want to see what mounting equipment is supplied with it, and don’t forget to plan a safe path for the cable to travel from your switch to the device in question. Once your cable is connected between the two, you’re done as far as hardware configuration is concerned – simply consult the manual that came with your network device to get it up and running.

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