New switch targets Power over Ethernet energy losses

The Ernst and Young tower is the latest example of the real estate business starting to get behind the lighting industry's turn towards smart fixtures, however the new building did not feature PoE technology. 

Cisco Systems has developed an Ethernet switch that will support lighting, heating, security, and other building operations without the electricity losses associated with some Power over Ethernet (PoE) schemes, losses that have been putting off some potential users of the technology.

The new Ethernet data switch is optimised for building operations, including lighting, and has been designed to sit inside the ceiling close to lighting fixtures, rather than on a rack of data switches that are often placed further away.

The close proximity reduces the loss of Ethernet-borne electricity, as reported in LEDs Magazine. This tends to occur when cables travel longer distances within a building, prompting more expensive energy bills.

Such inefficiencies have, in the past, deterred some potential users from using the technology, which is able to transmit data along with electricity to LED lights.

The new box is able to knock voltage down from the 120V and 240V electrical lines that feed it, transforming it into a lower voltage technology that is sufficient to power LED lights, which are renowned for their low energy needs.

In another improvement to PoE operation, Cisco has also claimed that administrators can now update and reboot the switch whilst keeping the lights on, whereas in the past, reboots have required turning off the lights. The lights will also now come back after a power failure in seconds rather than minutes, Cisco added. 

While PoE has been making headway as a technology, such as its instilation in the 32-story flagship Torre Europa in Madrid's financial district, it has been notably absent from some projects, which have been otherwise decked out with IoT technology.

For example, the 617ft Ernst and Young tower, in Toronto, which featured smart lighting from head toe, did not feature PoE, despite the technology being ideal for the task, as reported by Lux last August

Cisco's new technology is already, reportedly, being used at a Marriott Hotel and a Swiss commercial office headquarters.

  • You will be able to find out more about Power over Ethernet at Lux's upcoming Lighting Fixture Design Conference, where the issue will be discussed in detail. You can view the full programme here and register to attend by clicking here. The event will take place in the Cavendish Conference Centre in London on Tuesday 21 February and Wednesday 22 February.