To PoE, or not to PoE, that is the question! If the great English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare were alive today, we’re sure this would be his question!
So, what does PoE mean, and how does PoE relate to lighting? PoE stands for Power over Ethernet. This technology provides the means of delivering electrical power and network data to transmit concurrently on a single twisted-pair ethernet cable. PoE typically includes two main items, powered devices (PDs) and power sourcing equipment (PSE). Examples of PoE devices are IP phones (VoIP), IP security cameras, and Wireless Access Points (WAP). With the introduction of PoE lighting, a lighting fixture using a standard ethernet cable can draw power from PoE switches and communicate data, thus eliminating the need for separate electrical wires. Each lighting fixture is assigned a unique IP address for two-way communications with the building’s Building Management System (BMS). PoE technology can bring networking and controlling capabilities to LED systems that AC main power cannot provide.
Because PoE lighting uses ethernet cables, it can be an excellent solution for many indoor applications such as offices, data centers, hospitals, and schools. Below are a host of energy savings and controlling solutions PoE lighting can provide.
- Controlling fixtures individually.
- Eliminates all the high voltage circuit alignment above the ceiling and any associated metal conduits required to run high voltage wiring.
- Eliminates the need for a Certified Electrician for fixture installation or running network cables since LEDs are inherently low-voltage DC devices.
- Fixtures can be located wherever they are needed and repositioned or replaced without shutting power off to the space.
- Internet of Things (IoT) allows the ability to collect devices’ data and see trends to help maximize energy savings while optimizing the space and increasing productivity. Sensors can also indicate occupied spaces during emergencies, allowing rescue workers to find trapped occupants!
- More and more fixtures are designed to be compatible with PoE, improving design options.
- Adjust lighting level requirements as room functions change. For instance, a room that was once a science lab is now turned into a classroom. On a working surface, a science lab would require an average of 100-foot candles; however, a classroom requires 40-foot candles. A PoE lighting system provides the flexibility to lower the foot candles to meet the new lighting requirements for the room without the need to purchase new fixtures.
- Illuminate emergency pathways in the event of an emergency.
- Circadian rhythm optimization helps to mimic natural light indoors by programming a fixture’s lamp to change the color temperature and reducing blue light wavelengths during evening hours.
On the flip side, there are other considerations one must consider when considering PoE lighting. For instance, security concerns (network hacking), equipment cost (proprietary systems), training & certifications, equipment upkeep, cable distance, maximum power load of switches, IT space, and/or lumen requirements.
Ultimately, it’s the client we design for, and we need to listen to them, understand what they need, and help guide them toward a lighting control system that exceeds their expectations.
Please reach out if you need help with your next Lighting Design. We can also help with your AV/Technology System or Acoustical Design needs!