How to Select PoE Cables
PoE is an amazing way to make networks more efficient. By cutting power cables and the infrastructure needed to run them, you can really save a lot of money on parts of your network.
On top of that, modern PoE equipment is powerful, easy to manage (if that’s your preference), and full of potential. With a little bit of planning, you can use PoE to improve what your network can handle while saving money at the same time.
If that sounds like a nice goal, then there are a few tips that can help you strategize around PoE a little better.
Start With Power Consumption
This is the obvious place to start. You’re looking into PoE in order to power endpoint devices without having to source independent power supplies and cables for them. That’s the whole point.
So, the first thing to consider is the power consumption of those endpoint devices. PoE comes in several different ratings, including PoE+ and High PoE. Look at the wattage available for each PoE device and ensure that it can sufficiently power your endpoint equipment. That’s the first huddle, and once it is cleared, you can consider the other important facets of your decision.
Think About Heat
Increases in power consumption usually lead to increases in heat generation. When you use PoE to power more devices, you’re adding heat to the overall system.
You need to ensure that your PoE designs are up to the task. Each PoE cable should have a temperature rating. Obviously, you need cables that can handle your heat expectations.
Beyond that, you need to estimate how much heat your PoE additions will dump into the overall system. If you’re already pushing heat management limits, you’ll need to tread carefully.
When it comes to anticipating heat generation from PoE setups, there’s an easy rule to follow. The conductor size dictates heat efficiency. Larger conductor sizes in the cable have less resistance, and that leads to less heat generation.
Put another way, the higher the number after Cat (e.g. Cat5, Cat6, Cat6, etc.), the less heat that will be generated for the same wattage.
Consider Your Data Needs
Once you sort out power needs, you can think about data as well. PoE is baked on Ethernet architecture, but modern Ethernet can be very fast. Even if you need multi-gigabit speeds, you can get there with PoE.
Granted, you’ll have to pay premium prices to run PoE at very high speeds, but it is a real option.
Naturally, if you don’t need so much speed, you can save a ton of money on devices and cabling by minimizing how far you go over your bandwidth requirements. Thinking this way, you can balance any futureproofing against your current projected budget and adjust your investment as you see fit.
Plan for Deployment
One of the reasons to invest in PoE is that it makes network design and management a little easier. But, not all devices are designed around the same types of management, and that’s important to consider.
Really think about your design and what it will take to deploy it. Labor costs are a significant portion of this investment. If you can get labor costs down, you might free up space in the budget for more advanced hardware.
Conversely, if your labor costs are going to be too high, you can look into pre-configured or plug-n-play devices. The money they save on labor could lower your overall upgrade costs.
The point is that there are a lot of ways to go about this, and you really need to run the numbers — including labor — to optimize your investment.
Run the Costs
All of the tips until now have referenced overall costs in some way. It’s because price really is the bottom line. You should run a proper cost analysis on your PoE plans before you pull the trigger. Leveraged correctly, PoE investments will save you money while improving your network capabilities.
If you don’t take the time to do the math, it’s easy to overspend and lose money.
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- Cisco Catalyst Switches Product Guide
- Basics of Network Switches
- What are the Differences between Cisco 3650 and 3750X Switches?
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