How Does a PoE Switch Work?

Published on Updated on April 23, 2024

All modern industrial devices use long cables for power transmission. With these devices demanding more power, the use of cables is increasing, and creating more complexities. This is where power over ethernet (PoE) technology makes a difference. It assures higher power transmission with a lesser number of cables than other contemporary technologies. Like any other technology, the PoE is administered through various devices such as PoE switches. What are PoE switches and how do they work? This post answers everything you want to know about these devices.

What is a POE Switch?

PoE is a special networking feature, which allows network cables to carry both - electrical current and data to a device at the same time. Although data and current are transmitted using the same cable, they use a different set of wires.  This technology governs the working of any networking equipment, and helps ensure the interoperability between different devices connected in a network.

PoE devices comprise power sourcing equipment (PSE) and powered devices (PD). PSE is a device that transmits power, and PoE switches are PSEs. The devices that receive power are known as PDs.

PoE Switch

PoE Switches and their Working Explained

A power over ethernet (PoE) switch configuration is easy to understand, owing to its simple construction. The switch features several ethernet ports to ensure consistent power supply and network communications to devices connected to it. These switches may be operated in any of the following configurations:

  • Mode A Configuration: In this configuration, the switch delivers power and data through the same wire.
  • Mode B Configuration: In this configuration, the switch delivers power and data through different wires.

Most industrial PoE switches feature 5 or 8 ports, whereas non-industrial PoE switches may have 8, 24 or 48 ports. These switches are classified into two types – managed and unmanaged switches.


Three Reasons to Consider PoE Switches for Your Industrial Applications

These switches have gained immense popularity in recent years, owing to the following benefits that they offer.

  • Reliability: Unlike other traditional power distribution sources, the PoE switches consolidate the power distribution on a single source. These switches are universally compatible and can be used to reset or disable devices. Additionally, these switches can be equipped with an uninterrupted power supply.
  • Flexibility: The PoE switch requires no additional cables, because it transmits data and power through the ethernet cable. The devices connected to the switch can be easily repositioned to a new location as per the requirement. The powerful combination of wireless technology and PoE creates a cable-free environment, which assures hassle-free working of devices connected to them.
  • Cost-efficient: The PoE switch reduces the need for additional electrical power cabling, as in other traditional technologies. These switches can be easily fitted anywhere, and they require no expert intervention for installation. All these assure significant savings in terms of installation costs, maintenance costs, and human efforts.

Three Key Applications of Industrial PoE Switches

Owing to the above-discussed advantages, PoE switches are used in various applications. The following are three key applications:

  • IP Cameras: Most networked surveillance cameras used in offices and industrial locations are PoE-driven. These camera systems receive power and data from PoE switches. Nowadays, it has become mandatory to use these switches to ensure the safety of people and surroundings. PoE switches manufactured by VERSITRON allow a user to extend their IP Camera signaling over fiber optic cable for enhanced security and distance extension.
  • Wireless Networks: PoE switches have contributed to the growth of wireless networks. They help avoid huge installation costs associated with access points and controllers to a great extent. Bluetooth Apps, RFID readers, and Wifi devices are devices that utilize wireless networks for their functioning. These devices can be easily relocated to a new site depending on use.
  • VoIP Phones: This PoE application utilizes a single connection to the wall socket. PoE switches have contributed to the increasing use of VoIP phones for business communication.

How to Use a PoE Switch

Utilizing a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch effectively in industrial environments requires attention to detail and a clear understanding of its capabilities. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to make the most out of your PoE switch:

Initial Setup and Installation

  • Begin by selecting an appropriate location for your PoE switch, ensuring proper ventilation and accessibility.
  • Connect the switch to a power source and the network using Ethernet cables.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to power on the switch and initialize its settings.

Configuration Options and Settings

  • Access the switch's management interface using a web browser or dedicated software provided by the manufacturer.
  • Configure network settings such as IP addressing, VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks), and Quality of Service (QoS) parameters to optimize network performance.
  • Set up PoE settings including power allocation per port, priority settings for powered devices, and scheduling for power delivery if supported.

Connecting and Managing Devices

  • Connect your powered devices (PDs) such as IP cameras, wireless access points, and VoIP phones to the PoE switch using Ethernet cables.
  • Ensure that the devices are compatible with PoE standards and properly configure their network settings if necessary.
  • Use the switch's management interface to monitor device status, manage port configurations, and troubleshoot connectivity issues.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • If any powered devices fail to receive power or experience connectivity issues, check the Ethernet cables for proper connection and integrity.
  • Verify that the PoE switch is providing sufficient power to the connected devices and adjust power settings if needed.
  • Monitor network traffic and performance using diagnostic tools available in the switch's management interface to identify and address any potential bottlenecks or issues.

Safety Precautions and Maintenance

  • Regularly inspect the PoE switch and connected devices for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Ensure that the switch is kept in a clean and dust-free environment to prevent overheating and performance degradation.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations for firmware updates and maintenance procedures to keep the switch operating smoothly and securely.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively deploy and manage a PoE switch in your industrial environment, maximizing its capabilities and ensuring reliable power and data transmission to your connected devices.

After understanding how the PoE switch operates and its increasing use in various industrial applications, it is important to source them from a reliable manufacturer and supplier. VERSITRON is a leading manufacturer and provider of industrial PoE switches in different configurations. These switches can support ethernet, fast ethernet, as well as gigabit ethernet applications over fiber for enhanced and secure communication links.

Frequently Asked Questions About "how does a POE switch work"?

PoE switches utilize a technology that allows them to send power and data over the same Ethernet cable. They achieve this by using separate wire pairs within the Ethernet cable: one pair for power transmission and another pair for data transmission. This enables the switch to deliver power to compatible devices, such as IP cameras or VoIP phones, while simultaneously facilitating data communication between those devices and the network.

  • Mode A and Mode B are two different methods of delivering power and data over Ethernet cables in PoE systems.
  • In Mode A configuration, both power and data are transmitted over the same wire pairs within the Ethernet cable.
  • In Mode B configuration, power and data are transmitted over separate wire pairs within the Ethernet cable.
  • The choice between Mode A and Mode B configurations may depend on factors such as compatibility with existing infrastructure and adherence to industry standards.
  • Yes, a PoE switch can supply power to non-PoE devices, but it's essential to ensure compatibility and safety.
  • Non-PoE devices can receive power from a PoE switch using a PoE splitter or injector. A PoE splitter separates power and data from the Ethernet cable and delivers power to the non-PoE device through a separate power cable.

However, it's crucial to verify the power requirements and compatibility of the non-PoE device with the PoE switch to avoid damage or malfunction.

Rich Tull

Rich Tull
R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron, a leading technology company specializing in data communication and networking solutions. With expertise in Guiding network switches and media converters, R.W. Tull has played a pivotal role in driving Versitron's success. His deep understanding of these technologies has enabled the company to provide innovative and reliable solutions to clients. As a visionary leader, He ensures that Versitron remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering cutting-edge networking solutions that enhance data communication efficiency.
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