The manner in which security systems are connected continues to rapidly evolve as the market transitions from analog to IP systems. In particular, power over Ethernet (PoE) and IP-over-coax connectivity solutions offer new ways for security dealers and integrators to operate more efficiently and lower their costs.
Let’s delve into some of the ways these new solutions are also enabling dealers and integrators to bid more competitively on more jobs, as well as providing new prospects to help them grow their businesses.
PoE Boosts Efficiency, Lowers Costs
First used for voice-over-IP telephones, PoE technology provides power safely to network devices through the same Cat-5 or higher cable that transmits Ethernet data. In security and surveillance systems, power up to 15.4W and 25.5W can be supplied to network cameras and other devices using the IEEE 802.3af (15.4W) and IEEE802.3 at (30W) standard.
Using PoE eliminates the need to purchase and install additional cable to provide power to devices. They also don’t have to use localized power, which can be even more expensive. PoE on the same cable with IP data lessens the probability of having video ground loop issues common with analog installations.
Many dealers/integrators already understand and deploy PoE solutions. However, one common problem is that some existing PoE switches do not provide sufficient power due to the power requirements of the end-point devices. Even nonsecurity devices, such as newer, feature-packed IP telephones, may draw more power than might be supplied by a PoE switch. In such cases, a new switch is needed or a PoE midspan can solve the problem, as well as provide a potential new base of nonsecurity customers to help dealers/integrators expand their businesses. For dealers/integrators that already have business in the voice-over-IP arena, new midspan PoE devices are an opportunity to upsell a more robust and dependable power supply to meet the higher power needs of newer IP telephones.
Security dealers/integrators looking to expand into data communications and access control, or are already serving those markets, will find many useful ways to implement PoE midspans to better serve the changing power needs of today’s latest PoE devices. Knowledge about PoE midspan devices can ease any dealer/integrator’s expansion into other markets that also use these products. In fact, the experience dealers/integrators gain working in the IP video surveillance market can be leveraged to capitalize on new opportunities in other business product categories. For example, many access control systems are transitioning to IP controllers that employ PoE.
The newer IEEE 802.3at standard known as PoE+ can supply up to 25.5W to power pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras, infrared (IR) illuminators, heaters and blowers, magnetic locks and other devices. PoE+ devices require power supplies that are PoE+. If you plug a PoE+ device into a standard PoE switch or PoE midspan, the device will not operate.
A “handshake” between PoE or PoE+ devices and the power source confirms the required standard before power is supplied to the device. A PoE standard with still higher power is on the horizon that will provide 60+ watts using all four wire pairs in the cable versus the traditional two.
PoE midspans simplify power management and ensure system functionality. Other advantages include scalability and flexibility (such as cascading for longer distances), and the ability to easily match the power requirements for an edge device. They also ensure that power remains intact even if a network connection is lost. For example, many IP cameras now can record images on an SD card as a backup in the event of a lost network connection, but the feature doesn’t work if the camera’s power supply is interrupted. With PoE midspans, cameras can still be operational.
In addition, deploying managed midspans with remote access via an IP address is another avenue dealers/integrators have when installing, troubleshooting and servicing systems. These midspans allow technicians to ascertain how much power each end-point device is drawing, their maximum power draw and total power consumption, as well as the total maximum power consumption of all the devices connected to the midspan.
Remote accessibility of the midspan ensures installers that they will never exceed the maximum output of the power supply. Managed midspans also provide tools for finding possible power problems with installed devices. Managed midspans have the ability of automatically shutting down power to a port in the event a faulty device is pulling too much power or if there is a short.
This simple feature allows service technicians to quickly diagnose and resolve problems that could otherwise take hours or even days. In the event a device just needs a simple reboot, remote access also allows installers to perform those functions without sending a technician to the job site. These remote features allow the system setup process, service and maintenance to be much more efficient relative to the deployment of manpower in the field.