A network switch is a useful device that provides data transmission for connected network devices. There are a variety of styles, sizes, and types of network switches available. There are two main types: normal and industrial. Normal and industrial switches can vary in working temperature, Installation method, and application, etc. It is essential to choose the switch for your needs.
A normal switch is the most common switch type. It can be used in our daily life. A normal switch is often an edge switch/access switch in the access layer of the enterprise network. Or in cases where network topology is not involved, such as small office and home environments, normal switches may be used solely to connect end devices. It is the most common switch type that can be used in general environments.
As the name indicates, an industrial switch is a switch that is used for industrial applications. It's designed for harsh conditions and environments, which means the shell and inner structure of it have to be different than the normal switch. And its service life will be longer. Learn more about industrial switch in this article: What Is Industrial Switch?
There are several differences between industrial switches and normal switches. They are mainly reflected in the function and performance below, and this is the reason why industrial switches are needed.
Industrial switches generally use integrated metal shells, and fanless design to dissipate heat. Normal switches generally use plastic or metal shells, and use a fan to dissipate heat. The outer casing material of industrial switches has to be sturdy enough to resist vibration and shock. Take FS industrial switches as examples. These switches use robust IP30 and IP40 aluminum metal enclosure for use in industrial environments. It is also because of the fanless integrated design that makes the industrial switches dust resistant, which is very suitable for use in deserts, and other dusty environments.
Figure1: Industrial vs normal switch
Industrial Ethernet switches can better adapt to poor climate conditions, including temperature, humidity, and so on. Industrial Ethernet has a wide operating temperature range of -40~75℃, it's designed for high availability over long periods, and the operating temperature of a normal switch is only 0~50℃. Due to the different applicable temperature and components material, normal switches may have a shorter lifetime of 3-5 years, industrial Ethernet switches may be kept working for 10 years or more.
Figure2: Industrial switch working temperature
Because the normal switches are mostly used in homes and enterprises, the security requirements for the environment are not too high, the usual installation methods are desktop and rack installation. There are various ways often used when installing industrial switches, including rack, flat desktop, wall-mounted, and DIN rail-mounted installation. Generally, industrial switches use the DIN-rail installation, which is vibration and shock resistant, making them ideal for most industrial applications.
The power supply is a very important part of industrial switches. Power failures generally account for more than 35% of the equipment failure rate. To avoid the trouble of power failure, the industrial Ethernet switch generally supplies a dual power supply backup. while most normal switches in the market usually support a single power supply, which can only meet the basic requirements, it's not suitable for industrial environments.
Industrial network switches are built to work in harsh conditions such as manufacturing, transport, maritime, oil & gas, and mining. They are designed for high availability over long periods because downtime costs in industrial environments are often considerable.
Figure3: Industrial vs normal switch applications
Industrial and normal switches are not essentially different. But for the special needs of industrial applications, industrial switches have adopted some measures suitable for industrial applications. If you need a switch for industrial use, then you can choose the industrial switch, but if you just want to use it at home or in your office, go with the normal one.