Enhance Performance, Productivity and Well-being with Human-Centric PoE LED Lighting

Power over Ethernet (PoE) makes it easier and more cost efficient to power all the “things” that make up Internet of Things and smart buildings. Why? Because, with PoE, powering these devices doesn’t require a power connection and a data connection. Through a single category cable, both power and data can be delivered to a device.

Prior to PoE, these systems may have been able to come together over one IP network for improved control and monitoring, but they still required separate data and electrical connections, as well as proximity to electrical outlets.

Over the past few years, PoE power levels have been increasing – starting at 15W and growing to 30W and 60W. Today, itp’s possible to deliver 100W of power plus data over a single cable. PoE standards are also changing to support higher power levels. IEEE 802.3bt, which is currently under development, calls for 4-pair power delivery to improve efficiency and support complex devices. It also calls for two power variants: Type 3 (60W) and Type 4 (100W).

These higher wattages allow devices like point-of-sale registers, digital signage displays and PTZ surveillance cameras to take advantage of PoE. LED lighting systems can also now connect to the network via a PoE cable.

Connecting LED lighting systems to the network via PoE offers many benefits. Each fixture can utilize a standard RJ45 connector and have its own IP address for individual monitoring and control. Through integrated sensors, LED fixtures transform into smart lighting systems that collect data on occupancy, temperature, daylight, etc. and make changes in lighting levels accordingly.

Who Benefits from PoE LED Lighting?

Although any facility can be a candidate for PoE LED lighting, healthcare facilities are noticing major improvements due to the impact it has on staff productivity and patient care and recovery.

PoE LED lighting offers a human-centric approach to lighting, recognizing that lighting can positively or negatively impact people. Lighting conditions can either disrupt or sync our circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. A human-centric approach to lighting means that it can be controlled to enhance performance, productivity and well-being.

In healthcare facilities, for example, fluorescent fixtures can be replaced with PoE LED fixtures that can be dimmed, color tuned and set to specific schedules. This not only improves sleep patterns for patients, decreases falls and reduces disruptive behavior (such as agitation or anger), but also lowers energy costs.

Installation and Deployment Challenges

There are certain challenges to keep in mind when deploying PoE LED lighting. For example, selecting the right option to power your LED lighting through the Ethernet network – either through centralized PoE, distributed/in-ceiling switches or a gateway – is crucial to ensuring that the system functions as expected and offers all promised benefits.

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Network Cables; How Cable Temperature Impacts Cable Reach

There is nothing more disheartening than making a big investment in something that promises to deliver what you require – only to find out once it is too late that it is not performing according to expectations. What happened? Is the product not adequate? Or is it not being utilised correctly?

Cable Performance Expectations

This scenario holds true with category cable investments as well. A cable that can not fulfil its 100 m channel reach (even though it is marketed as a 100 m cable) can derail network projects, increase costs, cause unplanned downtime and call for lots of troubleshooting (especially if the problem is not obvious right away).

High cable temperatures are sometimes to blame for cables that don’t perform up to the promised 100 m. Cables are rated to transmit data over a certain distance up to a certain temperature. When the cable heats up beyond that point, resistance and insertion loss increase; as a result, the channel reach of the cable often needs to be de-rated in order to perform as needed to transmit data.

Many factors cause cable temperatures to rise:

  • Cables installed above operational network equipment
  • Power being transmitted through bundled cabling
  • Uncontrolled ambient temperatures
  • Using the wrong category cabling for the job
  • Routing of cables near sources of heat

In Power over Ethernet (PoE) cables – which are becoming increasingly popular to support digital buildings and IoT – as power levels increase, so does the current level running through the cable. The amount of heat generated within the cable increases as well. Bundling makes temperatures rise even more; the heat generated by the current passing through the inner cables can’t escape. As temperatures rise, so does cable insertion loss, as pictured below.

Testing the Impacts of Cable Temperature on Reach

To assess this theory, I created a model to test temperature characteristics of different cables. Each cable was placed in an environmental chamber to measure insertion loss with cable temperature change. Data was generated for each cable; changes in insertion loss were recorded as the temperature changed.

The information gathered from these tests was combined with connector and patch cord insertion loss levels in the model below to determine the maximum length that a typical channel could reach while maintaining compliance with channel insertion loss.

This model represents a full 100 m channel with 10 m of patch cords and an initial permanent link length of 90 m. I assumed that the connectors and patch cords were in a controlled environment (at room temperature, and insertion loss is always the same). Permanent links were assumed to be at a higher temperature of 60 degrees C (the same assumption used in ANSI/TIA TSB-184-A, where the ambient temperature is 45 degrees C and temperature rise due to PoE current and cable bundling is 15 degrees C).

Using the data from these tests, I was able to reach the full 100 m length with Belden’s 10GXS, a Category 6A cable. I then modeled Category 6 and Category 5e cables from Belden at that temperature, and wasn’t able to reach the full 100 m. Why? Because the insertion loss of the cable at this temperature exceeded the insertion loss performance requirement.

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Easy, Cost-Effective Way to Add Power with Industrial PoE Injectors

PoE Injectors can appease the growing power demands of energy-hungry devices in applications like physical security, transportation and automation – all in one device.

  • High-efficiency, low-waste power
  • Plug-and-play installation
  • Up to 240W of power from 8 ports

For recently developed or retrofit applications in need of maximum power without device limitations, these Power over Ethernet (PoE) injectors supply a high port count and up to 240 W of power.

PoE injectors join Hirschmann’s family of products built with industrial-grade housings and specific features to provide reliable power for industrial applications. They are the easiest and most cost-effective way to add high PoE power to both new and existing applications.


  • Choose between active (integrated power supply) or passive (standalone module) devices for increased flexibility, depending on your needs.
  • Supports up to 240 W across 8 ports without load sharing, ensuring maximum power output. Each port can provide the maximum output power of 30 W.
  • Simple plug-and-play capability and compact size saves time and space while automatically detecting connected devices.


  • Benefit from up to 8 available ports that deliver 30 W of power each
  • Enable PoE communication with a high number of devices using just one PoE Injector
  • Save costs with an all-in-one-solution and an efficient transfer of power (less wasted power) of >95 percent
  • Use in extreme environmental conditions, including wide temperature ranges (-45 °C to +85 °C for injector, -25 °C to +70 °C for injector plus power supply)
  • Install quickly and easily with automatic device detection and classification (IEEE 802.3at)
  • Meet important industry standards
    – Safety of Industrial Control Equipment: EN 60950-1, EN 61131-2, UL 60950
    – Transportation: EN 50121-4

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Cabling Demands for Digital Buildings

2017 to be the year of the digital building, and there has certainly been progress in this direction as predicted. In fact, according to Deloitte, sensor deployment in commercial buildings could potentially grow by 79% between 2015 and 2020.

Support for Internet of Things (IoT) is growing, bringing standalone building systems onto one platform. As all these systems and devices are being connected on a single IP network, they can be integrated to gather data, make automatic adjustments and provide intelligence and analytics for informed decision-making to reduce operating costs and energy use, increase occupant satisfaction, improve safety and reduce time spent on troubleshooting and maintenance.

In some cases, existing infrastructure are already being put to the test due to cloud adoption. As augmented and virtual reality move into the workplace – whether office settings, hospitals, hospitality environments or educational institutions – and more devices join the network, demands placed on infrastructure will become more intense. (And even though this newer technology is not widely deployed yet – check back in a few years.)

What demands do these digital buildings place on cabling infrastructure? A well-designed, high-performance cabling infrastructure is what brings IoT and digital buildings to life. All of the data (and power, in most cases) required for these devices and applications is traveling via the network’s category cabling. Without it, devices wouldn’t be able to communicate to each other, gather and relay important information or be controlled and adjusted remotely.

As digital buildings take over, it’s important to keep in mind the demands they place on a structured cabling system.

Demand No. 1: More Power Needs

Digital building cabling will need to support Power over Ethernet (PoE). This cabling technology safely transmits power and data over a single standard network cable, allowing devices – cameras, lighting systems, wireless access points, etc. – to be deployed anywhere. This allows remote control and data collection on one infrastructure. As device complexity continues to increase, the amount of power these devices need also increases (up to 100W in some cases). Outdated cabling systems won’t be able to safely and successfully carry this power level.


Demand No. 2: Increased Temperatures

Running more power inside a network cable can increase the cable’s internal temperature. When cables get hotter, insertion loss increases. This can cause unplanned downtime and may ultimately damage the cable, hurting its long-term performance.

If cables are tightly packed in trays and pathways, temperatures could rise even more because they can’t dissipate. When a cable’s temperature exceeds the recommended level, it may need to be de-rated – which means it won’t reach the full length promised.

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IP-Based Systems and PoE in Digital Buildings

Digital buildings, smart buildings, intelligent buildings, connected buildings – no matter what you name them, the sentiment is the same: A building with devices and systems that are designed to collect and share data to run as efficiently as possible without human intervention.

IP-based systems – also known as networked systems – are what make this idea possible. These systems use Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate with each other through IP addresses and data packets. All types of building devices can be IP-based:

  • Access control
  • AV systems
  • Building controls/HVAC
  • Digital signage
  • Fire/life safety systems
  • LED lighting
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Voice/data systems
  • Wireless access points (WAPs)

To function, an IP-based system needs access to power and data. When deployed in digital buildings, they offer many benefits:

Simple Scalability

Only need 15 surveillance cameras today? Then that’s all you need to install. If you decide you need more devices, the system can quickly and easily be expanded. If you decide that you need fewer devices, they are easy to uninstall. The system doesn’t require you to install a certain number at a time.

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Why PoE Demands Cat 6A Cable

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is ideal for supplying a variety of networking, AV and computing devices without the need for an outlet or adapter. It also reduces the amount of building material required to power and connect a device to a network by allowing a single cable to provide both services.

No longer confined solely to VoIP phones and security cameras, powered devices are increasingly calling for PoE connections; and these devices are requiring higher power levels. Wireless access points, digital signage, videoconferencing systems and laptops all require an increasing amount of power running through their cables. In fact, a new PoE standard, IEEE 802.3bt, supports up to 100 W of power per cable.

However, higher power levels running through a cable can cause performance issues by making the cable hotter; and when the cable gets hotter, insertion loss increases. This increases the chance of a business experiencing productivity-draining downtime and may also damage the cable itself.

The type of cabling selected can make a major difference in terms of how heat inside the cable is managed, as well as how it impacts performance. Category 5e and Category 6 cable can be used to support PoE devices, but Category 6A is preferable for a number of reasons.

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