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Useful Tips for Selecting PoE Cables

January 18, 2017

Power over Ethernet (PoE) stands for a proven method of delivering DC power over the same twisted pair cabling used for LAN data transmission. PoE technology allows a single PoE network cable to provide the required communication and electrical power to a variety of devices. In order to realize an effective and reliable network transmission, the selection of proper PoE cable is of great significance. This article will give you some guidance for your Ethernet cables selections in PoE deployment.

Power Over Ethernet Standards and Applications

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards for Power over Ethernet are 802.3af, 802.3at, and 802.3bt, the detailed features are presented as follows:

  • IEEE 802.3af-2003 (Type 1 PoE): The first PoE standard. It provides up to 15.4W power at voltage range from 44.0-57.0V. In a PoE design, power is delivered over two of the four twisted pairs of Cat3 cable or better.

  • IEEE 802.3at-2009 (Type 2 PoE+): The upgraded version of the previous PoE standard. The power delivery is up to 30W at the voltage range from 50-57V. It transmits power over two of the four cabling pairs of Cat5 cable or better. Backwards compatible to PoE.

  • IEEE 802.3at-2018 (Type 3 & Type 4 PoE++): The newest version with two branches. PoE++ enables the maximum power delivery by PSE to reach 60W for Type 3 and 100W for Type 4. Both of the supported cables are Cat5 cables or better.

PoE technology with explosive growth rates has been widely adopted in various devices and applications—PoE IP surveillance cameras, PoE-enabled Voice over IP (VoIP) phones, Wireless Access Points (WAPs), IP PoE based lighting, Point-of-Sale (PoS) etc. However, without the right choice of cabling and network design, PoE can't realize the maximum utilization or even some connectivity issues will arise. Cabling standards bodies are working to expand the potential of PoE while addressing safety and performance issues. Consequently, picking proper Power over Ethernet cable is crucial.

Ethernet Cables Used in PoE Applications

PoE Cable Selection Considering Factors

Due to the high delivered power, close attention should be paid when picking Power over Ethernet cables. Choosing the right cable is the key to the network quality and reliability. What should be taken into considerations when choosing PoE network cables? There are several factors that need to be considered when selecting the cable type used for PoE applications.

PoE Cable Selection

Conductor Size

Conductor resistance (DCR) in PoE applications results in heat generation in the cable. Typically, Cat6 and Cat7 have larger conductor size than Cat5e patch cable. Cables with a larger conductor size can reduce more conductor resistances. Generally speaking, the heat generated in the cable will be reduced with the same ratio of the conductor resistance reduction. Cat6 cables tend to have about 80% of the DCR of Cat5e, thus only about 80% of the heat generation. The larger conductor size of the cable, the better.

Cable Structure

Cable construction is also a factor causing the temperature rise of a cable. Copper cable can be divided into UTP (unshielded twisted pair cable) and STP (shielded twisted pair cable) two types based on cable structure. Usually, cables with metallic or foil shields are proved to dissipate more heats than UTP cables. Higher heat dissipation leads cooler cable. When using Cat6 F/UTP cable, more than 40% heat can be dissipated compared to Cat6 UTP. If allowed, picking Cat7 S/FTP cable with a foil shield around each pair can dissipate more heats than Cat6 and Cat6 F/UTP.

Cable Temperature

The previous two factors will affect the cable temperature to some degree. Cables with high temperature ratings allow for a higher amount of power to be dissipated. Typical temperature ratings for cables are 60°C, 75°C and 90°C. If the temperature of a cable rises, the electrical performance will be degraded. And it's not good for the cable's physical performance and longevity. Normally Speaking, shielded cables are less likely to be affected by temperature than UTP cables.

Cable Materials

When selecting PoE network cables, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Copper clad aluminum vs. pure copper cables, the former use aluminum instead of copper wire. Some people may choose the copper clad aluminum cable (CCA cable) on account of the tight budget, which may lead to network issues from using inferior materials to transmit the signal. The CCA cables have much higher DC resistance than copper cables. If the resistance is not compensated, the voltage drop will be greater for any channel length. Longer lengths will exceed TIA's channel DCR requirements, limiting the voltage available to the device. Higher resistance causes radiant heat to build up faster, and this may cause damage to the device. 100% copper network cabling is a safer and reliable choice for PoE applications.

Power Consumption

The amount of power that the PoE device requires for operation can't be ignored when selecting PoE cables. The power requirement will dictate which IEEE standard to follow and what the minimum category cabling to be used. Although each standard regulates a minimum category of cabling, other factors are important to be considered including voltage drop and heat dissipation. Voltage drop determines how much of the supplied power reaches the receiving device. The energy that is lost over the length of the cable transforms to heat and is referred to as heat dissipation. Excessive heat build-up can cause an increase in attenuation as well as premature aging of the cabling jacket.

Data Transmission Requirements

Another factor to consider is the data transmission requirement (e.g., 1000BASE-T, 10GBASE-T) of the device(s) being utilized. Devices such as megapixel IP cameras may require higher grade PoE cables in order to deliver the video signal as well as the required power.

Installation Configuration

The last factor is the cable installation configuration which has a large effect on the heat dissipation ability. Heat will be kept within the cable as high thermal resistance and high conductor temperature occur with large cable bundles or other installation factors. The larger the cable bundle size, the higher the temperature, no matter what cable category and construction structure.

Here provides several specific installing tips for PoE cabling:

  • Get well-prepared before deploying, and never just wing it.

  • Check your network devices to verify that they are PoE compliance.

  • Make use of different media in the whole cabling design.

  • Do not run cable near devices that generate electrostatic.

  • The PoE cable installation is not a one-and-done, please prepare for the future upgrades.

  • Think about your budget for the whole cabling installation, and find a cost-effective solution that is bang for the buck.

Find a Trustworthy PoE Cable Supplier

Base on the abovementioned introduction and analysis, when choosing PoE Ethernet cables, the conductor size, cable structure, cable temperature ratings, power consumption, data transmission should be considered meticulously before conducting the final installation. Here comes the selection of the network cable provider. High-quality and high-reliability PoE cables are what a qualified supplier should offer.

FS, as a reliable third-party supplier, encompasses a wide range of high-quality Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a and Cat7 PoE cable with shielded or unshielded type. All of the Ethernet patch cables have experienced strict Fluke testings including Fluke patch cord test, Fluke channel test, Fluke permanent link test to guarantee high performance. FS Assured Program for Ethernet Cables offers more detailed info of FS's PoE Ethernet cables.


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