Have you ever used the Internet of Things (IoT)? Chances are that you have, whether or not you realize it. Every time you swipe a name badge or use a home voice-activated controller, you’re using smart technology.

In recent years, smart tech has grown roots in every area of our lives. Doctors’ offices now use digital blood pressure and scanning equipment. Your office might even use a smart thermostat to optimize its energy use.

However, only about half of the world’s population regularly uses the internet and smart devices. Many people who live in remote areas still lack access to electricity.

That’s where Power over Ethernet (PoE) comes in. This emergent technology may have the power to get the entire world online.

Harnessing the potential of Power over Ethernet

PoE allows ethernet cables to carry electrical power. You can connect them to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, security cameras, and even Bluetooth access points, eliminating the need for separate power sources.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has described two sets of standards for PoE power supply.

The first standard, 802.3af-2003, describes a power supply of 15 W with a net output of 12.95 W due to attrition along the cable network. The second standard, 802.3at, indicates a power output of 25 W or more along a cable 5a or 6 network.

One of the best things about Power over Ethernet is that it enables you to install a new network without having to undertake a major re-wiring project.

PoE devices are classified on a scale from one to four, with four having the highest power output. Class four power sources, sometimes referred to as PoE+, are not backward-compatible with earlier devices.

If you’re planning a network expansion or installation, talk to your contractor about the types of power sources you’ll need.

Home and business applications of PoE

We have not yet begun to explore all of the industrial, residential, and medical applications of PoE, but it’s already disrupting each of those fields. Here is a short list of current PoE applications and a few projects that are still in development.

Home and office automation

One benefit of Power over Ethernet is that your home and office will no longer need unsightly power cords. Moreover, the risk of fire from ethernet cables is negligible, since PoE systems run voltages below the shock threshold.

One of the most common uses for PoE technology right now is thermostat automation. Smart thermostats have the ability to learn our heating and cooling preferences. They can also be programmed to save electricity or to go into sleep mode when we’re away. Smart thermostats aren’t a new technology, but they’re much more responsive than ever, and can keep track of more information.

Other potential uses for Power over Ethernet include retinal scanners, security cameras that use facial recognition technology, and smart kitchen appliances. One day soon, your refrigerator may be able to scan its own contents, create a shopping list, and order groceries online.

Enterprise-scale robotics

The industrial sector has a lot of use for Power over Ethernet technology. New large-scale robotic programming means that robotic workers are here to stay. PoE allows these machines to self-diagnose at more than just a basic level. Robotic workers can monitor their work environment and prevent industrial accidents before they occur.

PoE technology also allows companies to scale their operations quite easily; when you don’t have to install new electrical wiring, doubling or tripling your robotic workforce is a breeze.

Smart thermostats are also relevant for businesses that need to streamline their operating expenses.

Finally, new scanning technology makes rapid prototyping and stress testing possible. Being able to relocate labs or do tests in the field is vital for streamlining industrial innovation.

Rural network installation

Perhaps the most exciting application of PoE is rural networking. Even in remote areas of the world that don’t have electricity, it’s possible to either hardwire ethernet cables or connect to a local ethernet hub wirelessly.

More than one billion people still lack access to electricity, and rural internet connectivity remains near the top of our collective priority list. PoE goes a long way towards addressing this issue by greatly reducing the infrastructural costs needed to set up and power internet-connected devices.

As PoE continues its integration into our high-tech, modern lifestyle, it will also revolutionize pre-industrial societies’ connections to, and communication with, the outside world.

Digital electricity: a close competitor?

Instead of using standard copper wires, digital electricity uses small-gauge copper wires to move pulses of electricity over long distances. Many people find digital electricity attractive because of the higher power levels it is capable of delivering (in excess of what is allowed by PoE systems).

While digital electricity has seen some success in large venues like airports and sports arenas, it doesn’t have the same market traction as Power over Ethernet—and unfortunately, it can be a fire hazard. It does have a feedback system that detects power surges and shuts them down, but it’s not as safe as PoE systems, according to the National Electric Code. The NEC notes that properly installed PoE systems do not pose a fire hazard.

Sometimes, contractors try to save money by using cheap aluminum wires, but it’s best to stick with copper, and to use 5a and 6 cable. Copper is twice as conductive as aluminum, and does not expand as much when heated.

In response to the need to send data and power over longer distances, Remee Wire & Cable has introduced a new product offering called Activate™ Powered Cable Solutions, which includes Category PoE cables, plus Hybrid copper & fiber cables that allow data and power to reach extended distances, well beyond the limits of Poe.

Do you need a custom PoE solution?

Smart technology isn’t just for luxury homes. You can buy smart appliances that will update themselves regularly, use smart watches to time your workouts, and even power your home with solar roofing tiles.

Over time, the price of smart tech will continue to decrease, and demand is anticipated to hold steady. The IoT industry, according to some optimistic estimates, could climb to more than $6 trillion in the next five to eight years. The IoT may be a recent development, but it’s definitely here to stay. 

If you would like to learn more about Power over Ethernet, we encourage you to contact us online. We respond to requests within 24 to 48 hours, and we will always answer all of your questions. 

We’re happy to offer product samples and generate projected timelines for your installation or expansion project. With our 96% on-time delivery rate and 97% error-free manufacturing record, we’re confident that you’ll love the results.