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PoE vs PoE+ vs UPoE: What's the best switch to meet your network needs?

POE vs POE+ vs UPoE

If you’re new to networking, you might be wondering what in the world is the difference between PoE, PoE+ and UPoE switches. And, why should I care?

With numerous variations of series, port counts, sizes, and types of switches out there, it’s challenging for the non-technical elite to make sense of it all. So, we’ve rounded up some knowledge and insights to help you understand what a PoE switch is and how the three main versions differ. By the time you finish this post, you’ll be mentally sparring with the best CTO’s out there.

Power-over-Ethernet, often referred to as PoE, is a system used to distribute data and power to a targeted network of devices via safe Ethernet cabling. It uses basic copper cables and a switch to send power to the network. Recently, PoE+ has also become popular by boosting the amount of power that can run through the system. Additionally, UPoE was developed by Cisco to make another jump in power delivery through PoE networks. Use this guide to help you determine which one best meets your needs.

What is PoE?

PoE uses 802.3af, which is the IEEE standard. The 15.4W/port is compatible with Gigabit Ethernet but not with Cisco inline power since its power negotiation process is different. PoE, as a designation, is the first form of power through ethernet lines that was commercially available. It is the base line, and it is often less expensive than its more powerful counterparts.

Where To Use PoE

PoE provides enough power for most wireless access points, surveillance cameras, and IP phones. It is most often used in places where it isn’t sustainable to use universal serial buses or AC power due to inconvenience or expenses. Another benefit of using PoE is that the power transfers over more cable than what USB can handle.

Benefits of Choosing PoE

PoE is the simple choice for those who need an easy setup for basic networking. It uses standard copper Ethernet cables, making it as easy as setting up a regular network. The only special equipment you’ll need is a switch that is PoE-compliant. By powering multiple devices over a single network, you eliminate the need for separate cables and AC/DC converters for each device, which makes the entire system easier to maintain. PoE is flexible in that you can install it anywhere you need to and even move entire systems as your needs change. The system is highly reliable, allowing for constant availability. Finally, using PoE allows you to save money on network installation and energy management.

What Is PoE+?

Like PoE, PoE+ is a method used to transfer power and data over an Ethernet cable. However, as indicated by the plus sign, this Power-over-Ethernet option is more powerful to accommodate changing technology used by businesses. PoE+ uses the standard IEEE802.3at and has a maximum wattage of 25.5W, making it much more accommodating for devices like WLAN access points, VoIP phones. and security or web cameras that offer additional functions such as tilt, pan or zoom capabilities.

When to Use PoE+

Use PoE+ when you need better efficiency. Some of its benefits include optimized power distribution, allocation of dynamic power and better utilization of the power supply. Typically, PoE+ is best for anybody running a business while PoE is sufficient for home networks.

Whether you choose a basic PoE switch and cabling for use in your home office or you need a much more powerful PoE+ setup for your business, these systems are sure to make your space more efficient and easier to use.

What Is UPoE?

We have made it to the third standard in Power over Ethernet. UPoE is another escalation in power distribution. It stands for Universal Power over Ethernet (and is sometimes also called PoE++). UPoE pushes power draw capacity up to 60W, while still working with Cat5e cables. Since this doubles the PoE+ standard, it’s great for power-hungry setups. It was developed by Cisco to open up even more networking options and can help with transitions into larger and/or smarter networks.

When to Use UPoE

UPoE shines when you need more power delivered across your system. Virtual desktop terminals are a great example. The terminals use less power than a dedicated desktop computer, but they use much more than your average networking device.

Building management gateways and compact switches are other common devices that need more power than you can supply with PoE+. UPoE can also power larger strings of low-power divides — giving it a popular place in Internet of Things networks as well.


So, if your eyes glazed over while you were reading all of that technical mumbo jumbo, here’s what you need to remember when your boss asks you about the difference between the different standards of Power over Ethernet. PoE is the simple, basic way of powering networking devices, and it’s used in most home networking setups. PoE+ is more efficient and useful in complex business networking scenarios. UPoE is the weapon of choice for data-heavy, complicated and industrial networks. Feel free to send your boss a link to this article, and slowly walk away if he continues asking additional questions.

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