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PoE lighting is here: Time to get acquainted

October 22, 2021 | By Carol Everett Oliver

Without line-voltage connections, PoE light fixtures and sensors can be more easily added, reconfigured and upgraded.

Photo: © phonlamaiphoto / Adobe Stock

October 22, 2021 – From commercial office and data centre employees to retail shoppers and hospital patients, building occupants are demanding a more customizable, comfortable, and smart building experience. Smart and connected LED-based lighting (PoE, power-over-Ethernet) is a key part of the picture.

Powering light through the data IP network using Category cable instead of 120V electrical wiring is creating a superspreader of PoE technology throughout all buildings and outdoor applications.

Building owners and managers are realizing that the implementation of a PoE lighting system provides several inherent benefits:

• Installation savings through low-voltage cabling, versus electrical products and installation.
• On average, LEDs promise 70% greater savings than fluorescent or HID lamps.
• Ability to be monitored and scheduled through an integrated management system.


Without line-voltage connections, PoE light fixtures and sensors can be more easily added, reconfigured and upgraded.

Safety ratings & architecture

With the ratification of IEEE P802.3bt, which recognizes 60W (Type 3) and 90W (Type 4) of power to run over twisted-pair cabling, there is growing concern of excessive heat build-up due to the additional current running through the cable. UL created a certification for limited power (LP) circuit cables, which includes a test procedure for determining the number of amps a conductor can safely accommodate.

Ultimately, it is best to refer to the CE Code and/or consult your authority having jurisdiction for more specific interpretations.

PoE lighting systems contain multiple components connected through Ethernet cabling:

• The power supply for the lighting system (the PoE switch) provides the required voltage.
• LED luminaires (e.g. troffers).
• Wall controllers and ceiling sensors. The wall controllers are switches, and are usually directly connected to the sensors, which sense occupancy, daylight or ambient temperature.

Two industry standards provide well-defined guidelines for the design, planning and installation of PoE LED lighting systems as an integral part of an intelligent building infrastructure: TIA-862-B-2016 and ANSI/BICSI-007-2020.

These two documents complement each other in the IP cable installation planning of intelligent building applications. Specific content in the TIA standard provides guidelines for cabling types, topology, design and installation best practices and test procedures.

The BICSI standard leverages TIA requirements, but gets granular with best practices for planning spaces, topology and media selection for the specific building applications—including a detailed chapter on LED lighting. It also recognizes that, in many instances, the cabling infrastructure and selection of the horizontal cabling may vary, as it may encompass other building systems running over IP. In addition, it recognizes that some systems may require cabling other than balanced twisted-pair or optical fiber.

Depending on the cabling requirements of the lighting manufacturer, the horizontal cable can run in a star topology from the telecom room (TR) directly to the lighting (a.k.a. point-to-point) However, some lighting manufacturers incorporate a node (or a gateway device) where the Ethernet cable runs from the switch (either an endspan in the TR or a midspan within the horizontal run or housed in a zone enclosure) to the node to maximize the usage of each port.

From the node, the cable can either be a twisted-pair construction or even a multi-conductor cable, such as an 18-ga, 2-conductor cable (18/2), which can be daisy-chained (a.k.a. tree topology).

Spreading the light

According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global PoE LED lighting market will rise from a value of 192.3 million units in 2018 to 544.8 million units by the end of 2026. This presents great opportunity for those who embrace a new way of powering our lights.

Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, DCDC, ESS, is the principal of CEO Communications, an ICT consulting firm focused on marketing, industry training and presentations. She is the first female president-elect for BICSI (2020-2022), and will serve as president in 2022. She possesses over 25 years of experience in the industry, and has worked for various cable and connectivity manufacturers. She also chairs the BICSI Intelligent Building standards subcommittee.

This feature—plus more great content—appears in the October 2021 edition of Electrical Business Magazine. Even more back issues are located in our Digital Archive.

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