Change Language: English Region: Americas

Why use a PoE Smart Building Infrastructure

Smart buildings integrate and combine data from multiple sources, to deliver a detailed and effective view of how a building is used and to enable better informed decision making.

PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology enables power to be supplied along the same cables that carry data, to provide safe, low-voltage DC power to IoT sensors and devices. It’s flexible, cost-effective, and future-ready, making it the ideal infrastructure for smart buildings.

Established technology, future-ready

Invented in 1973 and standardized in 1980, Ethernet has come to dominate the market for data connectivity. Early innovations to transmit power and data over the same cabling were developed by Cisco to support WLAN access points and VoIP phones. The first IEEE Standards describing Power over Ethernet were released in 2003, and the latest IEEE 802.3bt-2018 Standard  – also known as PoE++ or 4PPoE – introduces two new power types: Type 3 (51W) and Type 4 (71.3W). The potential for these connections has not been fully explored as the power requirements for many devices has continued to decrease. It’s fair to assume that PoE will continue to evolve and develop into areas we cannot currently imagine.

Low barrier to entry

The adoption of new technologies is expensive, complicated, and prone to bugs. With PoE, although there are continual ongoing improvements, the technology itself is not new. Most organizations already use some form of infrastructure based on twisted-pair cabling and PoE based infrastructures can easily be altered and expanded. Smart building installations can be built out gradually to spread the costs over time or offset costs against savings.

Cost effective installation

Due to its delivery of low voltage power, PoE is cost effective to install and modify. It doesn’t need to be handled by electrical professionals, eliminating the need for additional safety precautions, insulation and conduits required of high voltage power. It’s also possible for in-house departments to manage moves, adds and changes such as taking out devices when a room is repurposed can be carried out with a minimum of disruption.

Easy to install into hard-to-reach locations

The flexibility of PoE means it’s relatively easy to install devices in hard to reach or hard to safely service locations: high ceilings, outdoors, on rooftop antennae. Cables, connectors, and outlets are available in different IP ratings to service the environment they will be installed in. Wireless devices can be easily integrated into a PoE network using wireless gateways. These self-powered sensors and devices can be effortlessly positioned and re-positioned as required.

Flexible and upgradable

With a PoE-based smart building system, changes can be made relatively quickly and potentially by in-house teams, enabling occupants to move into new spaces with a minimum of disruption. Older PoE and Ethernet networks can easily be upgraded using a power injector to move from one power level to another, or from unpowered Ethernet to PoE. PoE supports legacy and unpowered devices on the same network. Legacy and low powered devices like IP cameras can be connected and powered using a PoE splitter. This flexibility ensures the implementation is adaptable and cost effective: you can install only what you know you need at that time, and upgrade and expand as requirements or possibilities come to light.

Integrate multiple systems on a single platform

Smart buildings are at their most powerful when they integrate information and control multiple systems into a single dynamic platform. This integration enables facilities, IT teams, management and other teams to get a holistic, 360° view of a building.

IP convergence has already brought telephony, computing and AV onto the same infrastructure. Converging building automation onto the same platform is a logical step. With so many data networks built around this infrastructure and so many devices already available, it’s highly likely that future developments will also center around it.

With IEEE 802.3bt, PoE has the potential to power a wider range of devices. Devices such as large screen TVs, electronic point of sales, window blinds and even mechanical stand-sit desks can be powered from a single cable connection. In addition, a PoE infrastructure enables easy monitoring of power usage and status of the network hardware itself.


A PoE smart building infrastructure provides all the benefits of being cost effective, safe and scalable to transform real estate into an intelligence-generating platform, supporting both today and tomorrow’s requirements.

Download the white paper

Why PoE is the ideal infrastructure for Smart Buildings white paper can be downloaded here