Using Power over Ethernet to support connected devices

One of the wonders of modern networks is Power over Ethernet, sometimes simply referred to as PoE or PoE +, depending on the version of the standard used. PoE devices are powered by the same Ethernet cable that they use for networking. For IT pros, that means not having to worry about running hundreds of power cables through every corner of a workspace. A single power cord attached to a PoE hub can support all devices that connect to it through their network cables.

The problem with PoE is that while it works great for low power machines, some better performing devices can get a bit greedy. For example, a stationary webcam used for distance learning might only need a few watts of power to run continuously, but another camera that automatically adjusts, focuses, and swings towards the speakers needs much more to drive its engines. Maybe it doesn’t consume its maximum power all the time, but it will definitely do so in bursts.

Since most PoE hubs only have one power cord, this means that the amount of additional power that can be supplied to connected devices is limited. If you don’t manage your PoE, some devices will shut down or perform poorly due to inefficient or unreliable power.

The SonicWall SWS12 switch solves this problem by adding deep power management to the suite of standard network configuration options. This is a good thing. The switch can deliver up to 130 watts of power spread over 10 ports, and each port can deliver up to 30 watts of power. So if you try to get all the ports to work at full power, something will not work.

MORE ABOUT EDTECH: Read our full review of the SonicWall SWS12 Switch.

There are different ways to manage PoE devices through the switch port settings. The easiest way is to simply assign a priority level to each device, ranging from critical on high to high, medium and low. The switch will attempt to keep critical devices powered on at all times, reducing or shutting off power to lower priority devices as needed.

You can also regulate the power given to individual ports by giving them a maximum power limit of between zero and 30 watts. That way, with just a little math, you can make sure you never hit the 130-watt limit in the first place.

PoE is a great tool, especially for small offices or classrooms where using a lot of cables is difficult or impractical. The SonicWall SWS12 can help maintain power whether you have just a few PoE devices connected or one docked in each port.


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