Unlocking the Secrets of PoE Switches — A Complete Guide

Updated on Mar 16, 2023

Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches have become a popular solution for businesses looking to provide power and data to devices over a single connection. In this complete guide, we will explain different types of PoE switches, their benefits and applications, and discuss how to select the right PoE switch for your needs.

What is a PoE Switch?

A PoE switch is a device that combines the functionality of a switch and a power source in one. It has multiple Ethernet ports that can be used to connect other devices, such as VoIP phones, wireless access points, and IP cameras. The switch is responsible for providing power to the connected devices, eliminating the need for separate power cables. PoE network switches are often used in network deployments where power outlets are scarce or when the devices are located in hard-to-reach places.

The technology behind PoE switches is known as power over ethernet (PoE). PoE is a technology that enables the transmission of both data and electrical power over Ethernet cables. It uses a combination of a power source and power injectors to send power to connected devices. Power injectors act as a bridge between the power source and the connected devices, and they are responsible for the transmission of both data and power.


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PoE Switch

Types of PoE Switches

When choosing a PoE switch, it is important to understand the different types of PoE network switches available. There are three main types of PoE network switches.

The Unmanaged PoE Switch

A PoE unmanaged switch is easy to use and simple to configure. It can not be modified, managed, or offer any security features. Thus, it is ideal for applications that do not require complex network configurations, e.g., your home or a small network of fewer than 5-10 computers.

The Managed PoE Switch

PoE managed switches provide high levels of network security, control, and management, so they are more complicated and need many configuration procedures. They're ideal for applications that require more control over the network, such as VLANs, QoS, port mirroring, and port security.

The Smart PoE Switch

Smart PoE switches are comparable to managed switches, but with limited capabilities. They allow port configuration and virtual network setup, but don’t support monitoring, or troubleshooting to manage network issues. Smart PoE switches are great for VoIP phones, labs, and small VLANs.

Benefits of Using PoE Switches

Given how PoE switches work, the benefits of PoE switches are obvious.

Simplicity: PoE network switches are also easy to install and configure. Most PoE network switches are plug-and-play devices, so there is no need for complicated wiring or configuration. The switches also come with built-in features such as port mirroring, VLANs, and QoS, which can help to streamline network management.

Cost-Efficiency: Another benefit of PoE switches is their energy efficiency. PoE network switches can be configured to provide the necessary power for each connected device, eliminating the need for an oversized power supply. This helps to reduce energy costs and can result in long-term savings.

Flexibility: Devices powered by PoE are simple to move to areas without power outlets. Thus, PoE switches can be placed in places that are difficult to reach or less close to a power source. Security cameras are one example of this, as power outlets are rarely found above ceilings.

Future application: The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is booming. When PoE switches are incorporated into your network infrastructure, it is guaranteed that it will be able to accommodate the increasing number of devices designed to make use of this technology.

PoE Switch Applications

This rapid expansion of network-connected devices means that PoE technology and PoE switches will grow in importance to most networking infrastructures. While PoE switches have numerous applications, we mainly discuss the three most common application scenarios.

  • VoIP Phones: VoIP phones are PoE devices, with PoE allowing for a single connection to the wall socket and the ability for remote powering down

  • IP Cameras: Security cameras can be connected to PoE switches to enable fast deployment and simple repositioning.

  • Wireless: Many wireless access points are PoE compatible. Thus, PoE switches allow for easy relocation and remote positioning.

  • Smart Home Automation: LED lighting, heating and cooling systems, appliances, voice assistants, and electric car charging stations.

How to Select the Right PoE Switch for Your Needs

When selecting a PoE switch, it is important to consider your application requirements, the features and limitations of the PoE network switch. Of course, the power requirements of connected devices are also important. Some PoE network switches are designed to power devices that require up to 30 watts, and some are even designed to power devices that require up to 60 watts.

Features of PoE Switches to Consider

In addition to the type of switch and power requirements, there are a number of features to consider when selecting a PoE switch. These features include port speed, port count, port types, PoE budget, power savings, and port security.

  • Port speed: Maximum speed a port can achieve. It is important to choose a switch with a port speed that can support the connected devices. The port count is the number of ports available on the switch. It is important to choose a switch with enough ports to accommodate all of the connected devices.

  • Port type: Common port types include RJ45, SFP, and SFP+. It is important to choose a switch with the right port type for connected devices.

  • PoE budget: Maximum amount of power that can be allocated to connected devices. It is important to choose a switch with a PoE budget that can accommodate all of the connected devices.

  • Power savings: Designed to conserve energy by automatically turning off unused ports. This can help to reduce energy costs.

  • Port security: Designed to protect connected devices from unauthorized access.

Limitations of PoE Switches

Nonetheless, there are some limitations to PoE variation that you should be aware of:

  • Restrictions on distance: Typically, PoE switches can transmit over Ethernet up to a distance of up to 100 meters. The 100-meter distance restriction presents a challenge for large campuses, restaurants, and businesses implementing PoE. However, there are still devices like power extenders and powered fiber cables that can be used to extend PoE range.

  • Power: If you require high power over poe networks, you must ensure that the power capacity of your PoE switches meets your requirements due to the power limitation imposed by PoE standards and Wattage.


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FAQs About PoE Switch

Q: PoE+ vs. PoE Switch: How do they differ?

A: Non-PoE switches can only send data to network devices and must provide power to end users via Ethernet. They do not have PoE functions. Users must install midspan power sourcing equipment (PSE), like a PoE injector between the switch and the PD, in order to receive PoE.

This injector or another midspan PSE can add power while simultaneously transmitting data and power to the PD from the cable connected to the non-PoE switch. The injector or another midspan PSE in this scenario also requires a wire to supply power

poe vs. non-poe

PoE switches, on the other hand, offer a great deal more flexibility for users' network cabling. It powers PDs like IP cameras to be introduced in light of where it needs to go. A PoE gigabit switch is also much easier to install. For a PoE switch, only a switch power cable and a network cable connected to the PD are required. Then the PD can be directly plugged into the port of the PoE Gigabit switch, which can transmit data and supply power.


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Q: Do PoE Switches Require Special Cables?

A: No. The Ethernet cables that should be used for PoE network switches primarily depend on the data rate of the PoE port; for instance, Cat3 or better cables can be used for 10/100M; Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 cables are required for 1000M. In the future, Cat6a or higher cables may be required for the installation of 2.5G/5G/10G PoE devices.


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Q: Active vs Passive PoE Switch: Should I Choose Active or Passive PoE Switches?

A: Active PoE network switch complies with standard PoE. On the contrary, passive PoE network switch does not adhere to any IEEE standard. There are many ways that active and passive PoE switches differ from one another, like how the PoE power supply pinout looks and whether or not they support Ethernet.


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Q: Can the PoE Switch be used with a computer or other non-PoE devices? And will a PoE switch harm devices that do not use PoE?

A: The answer is dependent on the kind of PoE network switch you have. Please use an active PoE switch.


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Q: Is it possible to connect two PoE switches?

A: You could, yes. The PSE only supplies PD with power when it determines that the device can handle it. As PSEs, the two PoE switches will only be used for data communications.


Q: What is the maximum transmission distance of PoE? How to extend the transmission distance of PoE?

A: Whether using IEEE 802.3af (PoE) or 802.3at (PoE+), data and power transmission are limited to a distance of 100 meters over Ethernet cables in standard PoE. Media converters and PoE extenders, for example, can extend the range to up to 300 meters if you want to increase the maximum distance.


PoE switches are an effective solution for businesses looking to provide power and data over a single connection. They can simplify installation, reduce clutter, and improve energy efficiency. When selecting a PoE network switch, it is important to consider your application requirements, the power requirements of the connected devices, and the features of the switch. It is also important to consider the cost and long-term cost savings of using a PoE network switch.

If you are looking for a reliable and cost-effective PoE switch, check out FS PoE Switches.

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