First, what is Power over Ethernet? PoE is a platform used in wired Ethernet LAN where the electrical current passes through the data cables to provide power for each device connected to the network, such as security cameras, wireless access point, or VoIP phones. These are the same cables used to send and receive data. So instead of having another cable for power, only use the network cables used to connect the device to the Ethernet network.
A PoE IP security camera therefore requires only one connection to be made instead of the customary two connections to the network and to the power source. This helps the setup process be easier. Since you are going to connect your security camera to the network anyway, why not just use the network cables?
What do you need to take advantage of PoE?
What are the requirements to use PoE? A PoE injector. This device connects to your router and plugs into a power outlet. Networked security cameras using CAT-5, CAT-5e or CAT-6 network cables connect to a PoE injector. Ensure that the distance of the camera and the PoE injector are no more than 300 feet. Ensure the PoE switch has enough ports for your security cameras and other devices that you may connect to it.
Take note that not all IP cameras are PoE enabled. PoE IP cameras have a special power switch that can harness the power sent over the network cables. If you don’t have a PoE IP camera, the setup can be used to connect your cameras to the network, but an alternate power source would be needed for your non-PoE enabled security camera. A PoE splitter is another option to make your security camera PoE-enabled.
There are two types of PoE systems available now: PoE and PoE+. PoE makes use of the standard IEEE 802.3 af and can power most IP cameras with up to 15 watts of electricity coursing through the cables. On the other hand, POE+ adheres to the IEEE 802.3 at standards and can power devices up to 30 watts, which makes it perfect for those using high power cameras, such as PTZs (which have their own heaters and fans).
Why use PoE IP security cameras?
Consider PoE security cameras to help you take advantage of these benefits:
- Save time and costs: Save time and money by eliminating the need to lay down electrical power cables, which can only be done with a licensed electrician. Aside from that, anybody can lay down network cables and these may be located just about anywhere.
- Flexibility: Because you do not have to ensure that your security cameras are placed near electrical outlets, freely choose where to put these, especially in areas where they are needed the most. If you find that your placement is not perfect, the cameras can easily be repositioned as well.
- Reliability: You have one central power source when you work with PoE, instead of using different adapters plugged into different power sources. What’s more, use an uninterruptible power supply to help ensure that your security cameras stay on even during a power outage.
- Safety: PoE is designed to deliver power intelligently, helping ensure that just the right amount of power gets to your devices, neither overloading nor under-powering them. Some more cutting-edged PoE have fault protection systems that automatically shut off the power supply when it senses a short circuit or excessive current.
- Scalability: If you need to add more security cameras, easily do so with a PoE enabled camera. Just add more network connections and you’re good to go.
- Easily maintained: PoE systems are managed through Simple Network Management Protocol, where it can easily reset or disable PoE devices.
Another advantage that a PoE IP security camera has over security cameras that PoE ensures your camera is always connected and there is less risk of interference. What’s more, direct connections to the network can mean faster transmission of recorded video files than when wireless connections are used.
Potential problems of using PoE for your security cameras
Some of the potential downsides that you should consider before using PoE for your security cameras are the following:
- Check the power consumption rating of your camera. 802.3 af PoE systems can provide a maximum of 15.4 watts of power. While that is enough to power most security cameras, it may not be enough to power a network PTZ camera. Bypass this issue by getting an 802.3 at POE+ switch, but that costs significantly more, and you would still need to make sure it will provide enough power especially when using multiple cameras.
- One neck to choke. As much as having everything centralized has its advantages, it also means having a centralized risk. All of your PoE cameras are connected to a single PoE switch and I f something should go wrong with that switch, that means all of your PoE security cameras are taken offline and would stop working.
- High equipment cost. It may be more expensive to deploy security cameras using PoE as your power source.
- Voltage drops when running power over longer cables. As a general rule, only run your network cables up to 300 feet or around 90 meters. That may lessen the flexibility benefits of PoE enabled IP security cameras, but this will avoid voltage drop and ensure that your devices work correctly.