PoE Switch vs non-PoE switch – What is the difference?

Technology in the networking industry is always advancing. Businesses need to be on the cutting edge of system implementation to stay ahead. There are two main types of network switches: non-PoE switch and PoE switch. By using a PoE switch, your business is well equipped for the future and gives itself the best chance at continual growth and expansion.

What is a Power over Ethernet (PoE) Switch? Where Can You Use It?

A PoE switch, or Power over Ethernet switch, helps lay down the Ethernet cable and provides both power and data to the edge device such as PoE IP camera, PoE access point, PoE VoIP phone. Currently, you can find all kinds of switches that apply the PoE technology in different ports 4, 8, 16, 24 port PoE switches, and 48 port PoE switches.

PoE Switch vs Non-PoE Switch: The Key Differences

The biggest difference between power over Ethernet (PoE) switch and a non-power over Ethernet (non-PoE) switch is the power. A PoE switch not only supplies the network (data) but also power. The non-PoE switch only provides data exchange.

You can deploy a standard PoE switch to the network and attach both PoE and non-PoE devices to the switch. We emphasize the standard PoE switch here because we will need to rule out the passive PoE switch. It is not safe to connect non-PoE devices such as PC computers to a passive PoE switch. The standard PoE switch complies with IEEE802.3 specifications. It will initial the power handshaking to the edge device before it decides to send the power. If the PoE switch didn’t receive the correct feedback from your edge device such as a PC computer, the standard PoE switch only will provide data exchange on that specific PoE port.

Actually, you also can use the PoE injector to turn the non-PoE switch to be PoE compatible. The PoE injector can add power to the Ethernet cable and send it to the edge as well as the data.

In other words, you can consider the PoE switch as the non-PoE switch plus the power source which complies with IEEE802.3af/at/bt specification to manage the powering process.

Benefits of PoE Switches

PoE Switches automatically know how much power each device needs and supply only that, which results in less energy wastage. This will save your company money in the long run, as it is more efficient than regular switches.

There are other benefits to using PoE switches:

  • They use a single cable, so it’s easy to create a network.
  • You can expand your network even if power is problematic.
  • It is easy to maintain and monitor remotely.
  • You don’t need an electrician to wire the switch.
  • The total cost is lower to use PoE switches than traditional switches when it works with the PoE devices.
  • PoE switches manage energy more efficiently, saving money.

With the rise of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, PoE switches will future-proof your business, enabling you to have more devices on your network while optimizing usage.

Types of PoE Switches?

Managed PoE Switch: This is the most advanced option because it offers a high level of control and management as well as full security. It’s found in data centers and enterprise networks.

Unmanaged PoE Switch: This is typically used at the home or in a small business without an I.T team, and it’s hard to use and not cost-effective for large teams with sensitive data.

Web Smart PoE Switch: This option offers access through the Internet to manage ports and virtual networks and doesn’t require highly-trained staff to use. Though it has security features, it doesn’t have a variety of functions like a managed switch.

What Should I Pick?

Unmanaged switches are a good choice if you don’t have any IT knowledge or someone to personally set up your network. They require no configuration and can be used right out of the box.

Managed switches require a high understanding of networking and are usually used in production networks by professionals.

What Are the Disadvantages of PoE Switches?

PoE switches can transmit up to 100 meters over Ethernet, which may not extend as far as people would like in large campuses, restaurants, and enterprises. However, there are still solutions to extend PoE range—devices such as PoE extenders or powered fiber optical solutions.

Devices that use the IEEE 802.af standard is limited to 15.4W, while IEEE 802.at devices can supply up to 25.5W. If you need PoE devices to power over 30W of power, make sure your PoE switch has enough wattage for your specific needs. The new PoE standard IEEE802.3bt can supply up to 71W by using all 4 twisted pairs to send the power.

One of the hidden costs of PoE switches is the increased cost of the hardware. As I mentioned before, the typical Power over Ethernet switch costs more than its non-PoE switch. That’s because PoE switches include a power supply. However, system cost will be lower after you consider the power adapters, separately cable and wiring jobs in the field.

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