Re-Imagining Low-Voltage Power Distribution


In my work activities, I often feel constrained by conventional expectations, similar to the idea depicted above in this cartoon. The so-called “Real World” factors limiting our ability to implement outside-the-box thinking… but for one morning, I am going to throw that barrier away and bring you into the realm of the possible, when RE-IMAGINED…

Delivering Low-Voltage Power Via Network Cabling

Power-over-ethernet (PoE) is a technology that was first commercially deployed not quite 15 years ago. At the time, it was very limited in application and very few saw the real potential. I just recently returned from the Fall Bicsi ( Conference in San Antonio and discovered that potential realized.

Lab research and testing has proven that CAT 6a 23 ga. cabling is capable of delivering up to 140 Watts of power AND IP data, without dangerous radiant heat levels, or data loss. A new cable category with an associated UL listing has been released called Limited Power Cable (marked: CMP-LP). This cable is listed with options based on temperature and amp ratings. Why should you care? Re-imagine the future of IoT (click – Internet of Things) appliances and their application…

Powering IP Addressable Devices with Ultimate Flexibility

Devices capable of being powered by up to 140 Watts would include:

  • Laptop Computers
  • HD Displays & TV’s
  • LED Lighting
  • Phones
  • Thermostats
  • Speakers & Microphones
  • Security Cameras & Access Devices
  • Intelligent IP Controllers
  • WiFi (& other tech) Data Access Points
  • IP Relays & Switches
  • Small Electro-Mechanical Motors & Solenoids
  • You get the idea…

How would using PoE to power these devices make a difference in your life?


All Electronics Connected Via IP Data

Think of the flexibility of powering devices by cable, rather than electrical outlets… IP Addressable devices could be moved anywhere on a whim (click – Web of Things) and controlled from personal devices (i.e. watches, smart phones, tablets). Automating remote access to your network security, lighting controls, heating & cooling controls, access & video security devices, intercoms… think even more granular… your stereo & home theater, alarm clock, etc.

PoE Impacts Carbon Footprint & Sustainable Energy Solutions

If you have any concerns about fossil fuel depletion, global warming, or just resource management and cost… think PoE! If any of you live in a neighborhood where the local electrical utility has started installing intelligent meters… you should be aware of the energy savings of MANAGED power distribution.

Transformers & Power Loss

Every building in the U.S. currently uses un-managed step-down transformers to change power from The Electrical Grid to usable low-voltage current for small devices. These transformers deliver as little as 2% efficiency, in terms of power consumption versus actual use. They draw grid power continuously, lose up to 20% of the current upon conversion and dissipate large amounts of heat in the process. Additional air conditioning capacity is required to account for transformer heat-gain in warm climate areas.

PoE is MANAGED Power Distribution!

By definition, PoE switches offer cost-effective power management. These appliances can utilize software to auto-negotiate voltage levels and deliver power only when required in the specific amounts needed for each use. Many PoE appliances are up to 98% efficient in terms of overall current utilization.

PoE Compatibility with Sustainable Energy Generation

The sustainability goal for many buildings being designed today has been to lower dependence on The Grid. It is very common for buildings to be constructed with Solar and Wind generation options to lower dependence on power utilities and reduce operating costs. Alternative sustainable energy sources must produce power in a Direct Current (DC) format. This power is then typically converted to Alternating Current (AC) for use in building power distribution. That conversion causes the loss of up to 20% of the power originally generated! If the architectural & engineering community is to design with efficient sustainable energy strategies, they must consider including DC Mini-Grid solutions. This would allow direct utilization of DC power produced by sustainable power generation sources. PoE is a DC format power distribution technology – eliminating the need for power conversion.

Barriers to PoE Adoption

Only recently have modern building codes begun to address formalizing PoE technology as acceptable power distribution. The next issuance of the National Electrical Code (2017 NEC) will codify PoE solutions and define them as Class 2 & 3 circuits. Electrical engineers will have to stamp design documents with PoE solutions soon and building code officials will be required to familiarize themselves with this new technology. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has already begun defining PoE circuits as part of their scope of work. Classifying PoE as Class 2 circuits (or greater)  will cause state contractor licensing boards to begin requiring low-voltage licensing for trade contractors installing PoE solutions. Electrical, cabling and low-voltage contractors are jockeying to include this new power distribution technology in their scopes of work.

What Will Personal Device Automation Look Like in the Future?

The definition of “Smart Home” will change with the advent of this technology. There will be an explosion of “Internet of Things” (IOT) devices in the home and personal electronic devices will control them all. Others, with imaginations much more active than mine, will have to build that vision for the future. My mind is unable to fathom that reality 10-15 years from now. Rest assured, we will all be struggling to re-learn new ways of interacting with our devices and ultimately even our communities. This enhanced connectivity will allow real-time TWO-WAY communication via web-connected devices. I don’t know about you, but I just decided to spend only an extra $20/month to purchase an additional 1 TB/s of bandwidth from my internet service provider (ISP). Unlimited data pipe to my house and all of these future devices!

If you would like to discuss this, or other security topics, please contact him via LinkedIn. Also, take a look at his LinkedIn Discussion Board Security Convergence, or his Twitter feed @DLIPTech.

This site is maintained by Douglas Levin, PSP, AHC, LEED AP. It is intended to be my personal professional blog. The content reflects my personal opinions and observations regarding the Physical Security Systems industry and Technology Sectors. The opinions expressed herein reflect my personal viewpoint/ideas and do not in any way represent the position of any other person, organization or company.

About Doug Levin

Doug is a certified (PSP, AHC, LEED AP), experienced business development professional with a focus on the physical security industry. With a diverse background that includes delivering products & services through multiple channels (manufacturing, distribution, specialty & general contracting), he brings a broad industry perspective that adds greater value for his clients. Having decades of experience with sales engineering and design-build of low-voltage automated systems, he also offers a strong emphasis on technical knowledge and consulting services. His career has included responsibility for: profit & loss, operations and sales management with front-line experience in estimating, sales/marketing, project management and developing security design documents & spec writing.
This entry was posted in Power Distribution, Technology, Technology Convergence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s