An Introduction to PoE Cameras

If you’ve been exploring the different options out there for security cameras, you’ve likely heard of the Power-Over-Ethernet, or PoE. This connection method is surveillance cameras is a convenient, easy and reliable way to connect and power entire surveillance systems at a low cost and works with a variety of different cameras. Here’s what you need to know about PoE cameras, so you can decide if they are right for your security system.

PoE Diagram

What is Power-over-Ethernet?

Simply put, power-over-Ethernet security cameras use ethernet cables that carry both network and video signals as well the electricity to power the camera. While most security cameras require more than one connection to function completely – both a power connection and a cable connecting to the main video network. PoE does away this, allowing the camera to receive its power from the ethernet network cable alone.

In most cases, a regular ethernet cable will not be enough, however, and PoE usually requires a Cat5E or Cat6 cable – both of which are readily available and can be supplied by virtually any systems integrator or installer.

Why Use PoE Cameras?

The main reason to opt for PoE surveillance cameras is ease installation as well as cost. The less structured cabling you must purchase and install throughout your building, the cheaper installation and total cost can be. There’s no need to connect the camera to any additional cables; simply plug in the Cat5E or Cat6 cable and you’re up and running. It’s that simple. This simplicity makes maintenance much easier and less cost-prohibitive, as well, as there is only one cable to maintain or replace when necessary.

PoE cameras provide IP cameras with much more flexibility than regular cameras, as well, since the lack of power cabling lets you place them virtually anywhere the Ethernet cable runs and allows them to be easily moved and repositioned when needed. Want to install some cameras in a room with drop ceilings? No problem; PoE will let you do it.

They’re also very scalable, thanks to the power being hosted right on the network, allowing you to customize and adapt the system to fit virtually any needs.

PoE cameras can also be controlled and maintained easily via Simple Network Management Protocol (SMNP), which allows you to control them, shut them down, reset, etc, remotely. They’re easy to use and capable of virtually anything that other IP camera systems are, ensuring you can use them for virtually anything.

Are PoE Cameras Safe?

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to have the power for your cameras running through their network connections (for both you and the camera), you’re not alone. But modern PoE cameras and networks are advanced enough to intelligently protect themselves and safeguard against power overloads, underloads and even mishaps brought on by incorrect installation, able to shut themselves down in such events.

PoE devices and systems are also intelligent to transmit power through ethernet cables only when connected to PoE devices, avoiding overloading and frying regular, non-PoE cameras accidentally. And, as all PoE devices are generally connected to a single central PoE switch, the system can cut power to all IP cameras at once if the network experiences any problems.

Is PoE Reliable?

Simply put, yes. As mentioned, with PoE power is distributed by a single, centralized source, as opposed to coming from various wall adapters and other hookups throughout the building. It is also possible to back up PoE systems with a power supply that cannot be interrupted.

Is PoE Reliable?

How Much PoE is necessary?

Most PoE devices use 30 watts of power, which is what a general PoE cable can provide. As cameras become more advanced, however, or if you’re using more-capable PTZ cameras, you’ll find you need more and more power. In this case, you may need to use a PoE injector, which connects to the power supply and injects extra power over the ethernet cable, transmitting data back and forth without being detected. PoE injectors can even allow you to add PoE capability to devices and networks that otherwise do not provide power.

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