Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology has become indispensable to modern networks, providing a streamlined network design and implementation solution. PoE was conceived in the late 90s and seen as a way to repurpose existing copper (in office buildings) that was initially installed for phone lines. Of course, PoE technologies have significantly improved over the years, evolving into what we know today, with applications in almost every industry.

However, as businesses increasingly rely on PoE to power devices such as IP cameras, access points, and IoT devices, it becomes crucial that companies make informed decisions when deciding to purchase or transition PoE technology.

What Is Power over Ethernet (PoE)?

PoE technology enables both power and data to be transmitted over a single Ethernet cable, eliminating the need for separate power cables. The added efficiency simplifies installations and reduces costs. Two primary components make up a PoE system:

  • Powered Device (PD) refers to any device receiving data and power over a single Ethernet cable. Examples of PDs include IP cameras, VoIP phones, and wireless access points.
  • Powered Sourcing Equipment (PSE) is the device that injects power into the Ethernet cable. Both PoE switches and PoE injectors are types of PSEs.

What are the 4 PoE Types?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) defines four main types of PoE standards. These standards specify how much power can be delivered over Ethernet cables to power-connected devices. The four PoE types are:

  • Type 1 — IEEE 802.3af (PoE): Provides up to 15.4 watts of power per port and is suitable for low-power devices like IP cameras, VoIP phones, and basic wireless access points.
  • Type 2 — IEEE 802.3at (PoE+): Provides an increased power output of up to 30 watts per port. This standard caters to more power-hungry devices like high-performance IP cameras and advanced wireless access points.
  • Type 3 — IEEE 802.3bt: This type delivers up to 60 watts of power, accommodating devices with substantial power requirements, such as pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras and advanced displays.
  • Type 4 — IEEE 802.3bt (PoE++): This type provides the highest level of PoE power delivery, providing up to 100 watts per port. Type 4 has been designed for high-power devices, including videoconferencing systems and other equipment with significant power demands.

PoE Types

These PoE types offer a spectrum of power options, allowing businesses to choose the most suitable standard for their specific networking and device requirements.

What Standard Is Used for PoE IT Networking Technology?

The primary IEEE standard used for PoE IT networking technology is IEEE 802.3af (PoE). This standard, ratified in 2003, marked the inception of PoE technology. It delivers up to 15.4 watts of power to connected devices, integrating low-power devices like IP cameras, VoIP phones, and wireless access points into the same Ethernet network.

The IEEE 802.3af standard specifies the protocols for PSEs, which supply power, and PDs, which receive power. As networking requirements evolve, subsequent standards will likely be introduced to accommodate higher power needs and support a broader range of devices.

What Is PoE Compliant?

A device or piece of equipment that is “PoE compliant” means that it adheres to the standards and specifications set forth by the IEEE for PoE technology. PoE compliance ensures the device will receive data and electrical power over a single Ethernet cable.

PoE-compliant devices include IP cameras, VoIP phones, wireless access points, and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These devices can receive power and data over the same Ethernet cable, simplifying installation and reducing the need for separate power sources. It is essential to ensure that PSEs and PDs are PoE-compliant and compatible to guarantee a reliable and efficient PoE network.

What to Consider When Purchasing PoE Technology

When purchasing PoE technology, consider the following:

1. Power Requirements & Budget

Before diving into PoE technology purchases, networkers must understand the power requirements of the devices they are connecting. Different devices have different power needs, so selecting the appropriate PoE standard is crucial. Choose a suitable PoE standard to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

Carefully evaluate the power budget of your PoE switch or injector to ensure that it can accommodate the total power requirements of all connected devices simultaneously. Overspending on a high-power PoE solution when lower-power alternatives can suffice may lead to unnecessary expenses, while underestimating power needs could result in underpowered devices. Finding the right balance between power requirements and budget is crucial for cost-effective and efficient PoE implementation.Power Management for PoE Networking

2. Network Design and Infrastructure

Efficient PoE deployment is contingent upon a well-thought-out network design and robust infrastructure. Consider the following factors to ensure your network can effectively support PoE technology:

  • Cable Quality and Length: Ensure your Ethernet cables meet or exceed the specifications required for your PoE standard. Additionally, be mindful of cable length limitations, as distances over 100m or 329 feet will lose strength unless boosted by a PoE extender.

PoE Extender Application Diagram

  • Network Switches: Invest in high-quality PoE switches capable of delivering consistent power to connected devices. Verify that the switch supports the PoE standard required by your devices and has adequate power budgeting capabilities.
  • PSE Devices: Select PSE devices that align with your network’s power requirements and ensure compatibility with the devices they will be powering.

3. Future-Proofing and Scalability

PoE technology evolves alongside the increasing demands of modern networks. When making PoE technology purchases, consider the future needs of your organization. Opt for PoE+ or PoE++ switches if your current or future devices require higher power levels. Choose managed PoE switches that offer remote monitoring and troubleshooting. These proactive steps help ensure that your PoE infrastructure can adapt to emerging technologies and expansion requirements without frequent upgrades.

The Economic Advantages of PoE in Industries

PoE technology has revolutionized how industries adopt digital solutions by providing various devices with a cost-effective and efficient power source. Here are several ways PoE is helping industries go digital economically:

  • Simplified Infrastructure: PoE eliminates the need for separate power cables, reducing installation costs and complexity. Delivering power and data over a single Ethernet cable streamlines infrastructure requirements, making deploying and maintaining digital devices and systems more manageable and cost-effective.
  • Flexibility in Device Placement: PoE enables industries to deploy digital devices in locations where power outlets are not readily available. This flexibility in device placement eliminates the need for expensive electrical work and enables organizations to optimize their facility layouts without being constrained by power sources.
  • Scalability and Easy Expansion: PoE facilitates scalable and modular deployments, allowing industries to add or relocate devices as needed without extensive rewiring. This flexibility significantly reduces installation time and the costs associated with expanding or reconfiguring your digital infrastructure.


When preparing to purchase PoE technology, remember that the simplicity and support of advanced workplace PDs help ensure an optimal end-user experience while making the job of IT administrators easier.

  • Remote installations are super easy.
  • Power outlets are not required to run remote cameras, display screens, or wireless access points.
  • PDs are becoming more sophisticated, and applications are becoming more feature-laden.
  • PoE technology is a cost-effective solution that will expand your network requirements.

Learn more about PoE technology at Versa Technology, a leading global PoE company committed to creating equipment that reflects the changing networking demands of enterprises and small businesses.