Going the Distance

Increasing Your Power Over the Network

Networked devices have made all the difference in giving security and communication systems far more ubiquity, capabilities, and performance than anyone could have dreamed of when the IP was invented in 1974. By the late 1980s, IP standards had improved to the point that devices could be reliably connected over distances up to 328 feet using Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables – and these cables could also carry power in the form of PoE (Power Over Ethernet), allowing for cost-efficient system installations with only a minimal need for electricians. To really deliver on the promises of the rapidly developing network technologies, however, fast and reliable connectivity was needed that could span even greater distances.

Today, the combination of upgraded PoE standards that allow for increased power levels and composite cables that include both copper conductors and fiber optics has revolutionized the breadth of potential system deployments while delivering higher performance and controlling installation costs.

KEY ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES T

his revolution in networked security and communication system deployment distances depends on the combined effect of three key technologies:

Increased power over network cabling. The first PoE standard (802.3af) only provided for up to 12.95 watts of useable power at the end of a 328-foot cable run, but it was a breakthrough that allowed for “single cable installations” of networked devices. The newest IEEE PoE standard (802.3bt) increases the maximum power to 90 watts over standard network cabling, supporting the use of higher-powered devices, and importantly, greater distances to the powered devices.

The higher wattage available in the newest PoE standard also means that a single cable connection can provide enough power to energize a remote power source to support one or more networked devices. New solutions like Tango from Altronix delivers 12VDC and 24VDC simultaneously to power access control and security devices from any 802.3bt PoE Source using a CAT-6 or higher cable. This provides tremendous savings by leveraging lowvoltage installation methods, eliminating the need for an electrician and dedicated conduit and wire runs.

EXTENDED DATA TRANSMISSION DISTANCES WITH FIBER

To break through the 328-foot limitation for UTP data transmission, manufacturers turned to fiber optic cables. Optical fibers are ideal for high bandwidth distributed systems because of their extensive data-carrying capabilities and low losses that allow for transmission distances measured in meters/kilometers. As an added benefit, fiber cable systems are immune to some of the issues that plague copper transmission systems.

COMPOSITE CABLES

Every networked device requires both power and IP data connectivity. Composite copper/fiber cables are an elegant solution that maximizes connectivity options and future use potential while minimizing installation costs and complexity. A wide range of standard and custom types are available to meet specific current needs while often including extra unused (“dark”) fiber conductors (either single-mode or multi-mode) to provide for future growth or evolving technologies.

New data transmission solutions like Altronix’s new NetWay Spectrum Fiber/Ethernet Solutions take fiber and power to a new level. These units can be deployed with conventional single or multi-mode fiber, as well as composite cable that combines fiber with power to simultaneously deliver both, power and data.

APPLYING THE BENEFITS OF EXTENDED INFRASTRUCTURE

In this example, a large sports facility wants to add video surveillance to improve security awareness of activities over a larger area, such as the public plazas between the parking areas and the facility entrances. This system will be separate from the existing surveillance system that covers the internal areas, and will have backup power to ensure continuous operation.

Providing surveillance around the outside of a large sports facility poses a challenge for traditional category Ethernet cabling such as CAT 6 because of the long transmission distances. The longstanding alternative, providing power at multiple locations in the system, along with backup power, would significantly raise the project costs.

PLANNING REMOTE POE+ AND IP INSTALLATIONS

To plan an installation that takes advantage of these new power and connectivity methods, system designers will need to account for these basic parameters.

1. Number and location of planned remote devices. 2. Aggregate PoE requirements for all devices to be centrally powered. 3. Cabling plan – “ring” or point to point. 4. Distance(s) from head-end power to remote IP/PoE switch(es). 5. Environmental Requirements for outdoor devices - waterproof/ dust tight- IP66 rated. 6. If central powered, selection of power supply output (wattage). 7. Number of SFP modules and connections required. 8. Connection to existing IPU. 9. Power backup requirements.

When these factors are collected, designers can make use of available design tools to calculate the required wire gauges and other design elements.

New power and data transmission solutions are available to extend the distance and capacities of all types of cabling infrastructure. These new remote power sources, power controllers, power distribution modules, and other devices support the latest power and communication protocols.

This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Security Today.

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