PoE (Power over Ethernet) vs PoE+ (Power over Ethernet Plus) vs UPoE (Universal Power over Ethernet)
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PoE (Power over Ethernet) vs PoE+ (Power over Ethernet Plus) vs UPoE (Universal Power over Ethernet)

In the world of networking, the need for power and data transmission over the same cables can be a real headache for network administrators. That’s where Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology comes in. The ability to power network devices through Ethernet cables has revolutionized the way network devices are deployed and managed. However, with the evolution of technology, we now have PoE+ and UPoE. This article aims to provide an in-depth comparison and analysis of these technologies, including their applications and installation.

What is Power over Ethernet (PoE)?

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a technology that enables electrical power to be sent down Ethernet cables to network devices. This technology was first introduced in 2003 and since then has been widely adopted in various network devices such as wireless access points, VoIP phones, and IP cameras.

One of the main advantages of PoE is that it eliminates the need for separate power cables, which can simplify installation and reduce costs. Additionally, PoE can provide power to devices in locations where electrical outlets may not be readily available, such as in outdoor environments or in areas with limited access to power sources. However, it is important to note that not all network devices are compatible with PoE, and it is important to check device specifications before implementing PoE technology.

Understanding the Basics of PoE+ (Power over Ethernet Plus)

PoE+ is an improvement on the original PoE technology and is also known as IEEE 802.3at. PoE+ provides more power than PoE, which means it can support a wider range of network devices that require higher power. The maximum power output for PoE+ is up to 30 watts, whereas PoE can only provide up to 15.4 watts.

One of the benefits of PoE+ is that it allows for longer cable runs, up to 100 meters, without experiencing a significant drop in power. This makes it ideal for powering devices in remote locations, such as security cameras or wireless access points. Additionally, PoE+ is backward compatible with PoE devices, so it can be used with existing infrastructure. However, it is important to note that not all network devices are compatible with PoE+ and may require a separate power source.

What is Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE)?

Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE) is an extension of PoE+ technology that enables network devices that require even more power to be supported. This technology was introduced in 2012 and can deliver up to 60 watts of power. UPoE is becoming increasingly popular in devices such as IP video conferencing systems and virtual desktop infrastructure endpoints.

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One of the key benefits of UPoE is that it allows for greater flexibility in network design. With UPoE, devices can be placed in locations where power outlets are not readily available, without the need for additional electrical wiring. This can save time and money during installation and also allows for more creative placement of devices.

Another advantage of UPoE is that it can help to reduce energy costs. By using UPoE to power devices, organizations can reduce the number of power supplies needed, which can lead to lower energy consumption and cost savings. Additionally, UPoE can help to reduce the amount of e-waste generated, as fewer power supplies are needed to power devices.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of PoE

PoE technology has several advantages, including simplified deployment and reduced cost. With PoE, network devices don’t require power outlets, which simplifies the cabling process. It also eliminates the costs of installing separate electrical circuits for each device. PoE also makes it easier to relocate or add devices without the need for professional electricians. On the downside, PoE has a power output limitation of 15.4 watts, making it unsuitable for devices that require higher power.

Another advantage of PoE is that it provides centralized power management, allowing network administrators to monitor and control power usage across all connected devices. This can lead to significant energy savings and reduce the overall carbon footprint of a network. Additionally, PoE can provide backup power to critical devices during power outages, ensuring uninterrupted network connectivity.

However, PoE also has some limitations. For example, it may not be compatible with all network devices, and some devices may require additional hardware to support PoE. Additionally, PoE introduces a single point of failure, as a power outage or failure in the PoE switch can cause all connected devices to lose power. Finally, PoE may not be suitable for outdoor or harsh environments, as the cabling and connectors may not be able to withstand extreme temperatures or weather conditions.

PoE vs PoE+ vs UPoE: Which One to Choose?

Choosing the right technology depends on the power requirements of network devices. PoE is suitable for low-power devices such as VoIP phones, wireless access points, and small video surveillance cameras. For devices such as PTZ cameras, thin clients, and larger video conferencing equipment, PoE+ is a good choice. For devices that require even more power, such as virtual desktop infrastructure endpoints, UPoE is the way to go.

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How Does Power over Ethernet Work?

PoE enables power to be supplied to a device using the same copper data cabling used for network communication. The power is supplied by the Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE), either a switch or midspan. This power is denoted as Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC) and is supplied in pairs over Ethernet wires. The powered device (PD), such as a network camera or access point, then receives power through its Ethernet socket. The PD detects the presence of the power supply from the PSE and then enables the Ethernet connection to work.

Key Differences between PoE, PoE+ and UPoE

The key differences between PoE, PoE+ and UPoE are the amount of power they can provide. PoE provides up to 15.4 watts, PoE+ provides up to 30 watts, and UPoE provides up to 60 watts. Another difference is that PoE and PoE+ use two pairs of wires in the Ethernet cable, while UPoE uses all four pairs. UPoE also requires a different type of switch capable of delivering the additional power output.

What are the Applications of Power over Ethernet?

Power over Ethernet technology is used in a vast array of network devices, including VoIP phones, wireless access points, IP cameras, and switches. It’s also used in applications such as digital signage, building automation, and lighting. Wireless access points are a widely used application for PoE technology, as it simplifies installation and eliminates the need for power outlets.

Common Misconceptions about PoE, PoE+ and UPoE

One misconception about PoE technology is that it’s not safe. However, PoE is designed to be safe, with measures in place to prevent damage to network devices. Another misconception is that PoE requires expensive switches, but most modern switches support PoE technology. Finally, UPoE is often confused with PoE+, but it requires a different type of switch capable of delivering the additional power output.

The Future of Power over Ethernet Technology

The future of Power over Ethernet technology looks bright, with new applications and increased adoption expected. The development of the PoE standard is ongoing, with IEEE 802.3bt, which introduces new power levels, expected to be ratified soon. This update is expected to provide greater power delivery capabilities, further expanding the range of devices and applications that can use PoE technology.

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How to Install and Configure a PoE Network

Installing and configuring a PoE network requires specialized knowledge and experience. The first step is to choose the right equipment, including switches, patch cords, cables, and powered devices. After selecting the equipment, it’s essential to verify its compatibility with PoE technology. Configuration requires a full understanding of switch configuration, including VLAN creation, PoE settings, and Quality of Service (QoS). Additionally, proper cabling is critical to ensure power delivery and minimize signal loss.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with PoE, PoE+ and UPoE Networks

Some common issues that can arise with PoE, PoE+, and UPoE networks include power supply problems, Ethernet connectivity issues, and compatibility problems. Properly configuring the switch and powered devices is essential, and checking the power supply output is necessary to ensure stable operation. Troubleshooting connectivity issues can be aided using network analyzers and pinout testers. Compatibility issues can be resolved by selecting equipment with matching standards and updating firmware and drivers.

Comparing the Costs of Implementing PoE, PoE+ and UPoE Solutions

Comparing the costs of implementing PoE, PoE+ and UPoE solutions is dependent on the application and the power requirement of network devices. PoE offers cost savings by eliminating separate electrical cabling for devices requiring low power. PoE+ and UPoE increase power delivery, enabling larger devices to be installed, but the costs associated with switches, powered devices, and cabling increase. The cost of implementing PoE solutions has decreased significantly over the years, making it more affordable for smaller installations.

The Impact of Power over Ethernet on Energy Efficiency in Building Automation Systems

Power over Ethernet has a significant impact on energy efficiency in building automation systems. PoE technology allows for smart lighting, HVAC, and security devices to be powered over Ethernet cabling, improving energy efficiency and cost savings. Building automation systems incorporating PoE technology can also be integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT), further enhancing their functionality.


Power over Ethernet, PoE+, and UPoE technology provide efficient solutions for delivering power to network devices. The technology has evolved over the years to support devices requiring higher power output, expanding the range of applications of PoE technology. Choosing the right technology depends on the power requirements of network devices, and careful consideration should be given to equipment selection, installation, and configuration.