IP camera plays an important part in any business surveillance system to safeguard their properties and personnel and discourage residential burglaries. And with the improvement of safety awareness of the general public, IP cameras are widely deployed in different scenarios, like schools, hospitals, grocery stores, neighborhoods and other business-related applications. Surprisedly, there is always a stereotype thinking that once I’ve got the cameras done, the whole surveillance system will be absolutely impeccable. Admittedly, the importance of security cameras can never be underestimated, but supporting equipment is also necessary for a fully functional surveillance system. The supporting accessories often include routers, network video recorders, power sourcing equipment like PoE switches, power lines, network cables, etc. In fact, when you set up an IP surveillance system, the very first question should always be: What do we use as the supporting equipment, PoE Switch or PoE NVR?
Supporting devices like NVRs, PoE switches, PoE NVRs are equally as important as the IP security cameras: managing your surveillance system properly is the stepping stone to a fully functional security camera system.
PoE Switch V.S. PoE NVR
PoE switch is a network switch that has PoE features built into it and is able to transmit both power and data through the same network cable to the powered devices within a maximum distance of 100 meters. The PoE switch offers great flexibility for installation in places where no power/network is present, which greatly improves the scalability of network architecture and reduces the costs of the initial investment. The PoE switch is very easy to manage and troubleshoot, making it ultra user-friendly for both residential and commercial applications. In addition, an active PoE switch is also equipped with auto-sensing ports that automatically detect the compatibility of the connected devices to reduce the chances of power outages, operation failures, etc. The PoE switch doesn’t have any recording feature, but it normally has one or two uplink ports to connect to an NVR for continuous video recording.
On the other hand, PoE NVR is a network video recorder that has a built-in PoE switch. It offers a centralized video control to allow you to store and process the captured footage. Like the PoE switch, the PoE NVR can deliver power and data to the IP cameras at the same time, eliminating the need for installing an external PoE switch. But PoE NVRs available in the market may not possess advanced features like SNMP, PoE control and monitoring, etc. as the PoE switches do. Therefore, the PoE NVR is suitable for installing only three or four IP cameras, ideal for users with minimal network administration experience and small networks such as start-up businesses and homes. It’s an option to ease the pressure of the current NVR, offer additional security and avoid broadcast storms.
Which is the Better Fit?
The PoE switch is clearly a winner in building a comprehensive IP security camera system. Although the PoE NVR is relatively cheaper than the PoE switch, its application is highly limited to small networks. Most PoE NVRs are only built with 4 PoE interfaces, but the PoE switch provides more PoE ports to allow you to install more IP cameras and other network devices at the same switch. And it’s highly scalable: by connecting to another PoE switch, the Ethernet ports can be expanded with ease. And considering all the IP cameras have to be hardwired to the PoE NVR, so you cannot change a camera’s position once it’s connected for the first time. However, the PoE switch offers more placement and deployment options in complex environments. And it provides a rich selection of power budgets up to 15/30/60W on each port, ensuring each IP camera can receive enough power. It monitors and secures power supply to high-priority ports, and protects connected devices from overloads. The PoE switch also features a higher level of redundancy compared to the PoE NVR. Given that the PoE switch and the NVR work separately as an independent unit, if one of them goes down, the other will not get affected, but if the PoE NVR (works as in integrity) breaks down, the whole system will go down as well. Worse still, it often costs more to fix and maintain a PoE NVR, and sometimes you have to replace the whole unit altogether.
Benefits of Using a PoE switch
• Reduced costs: An all-in-one unit that transmits power and data at the same time.
• Greater flexibility: The PoE switch can be deployed basically anywhere and makes it easy to add new network equipment to the existing network.
• Centralized power control and monitor: The PoE switch secures better power management and allocation by optimizing the traffic on each Ethernet port. The LED displays also provide the users with real-time power information to leverage the benefits of PoE.
How to Choose a PoE Switch for the IP Security Camera System
Not all PoE switches are made the same; they come in different sizes, functions and features. Before buying any PoE switch, it’s important to choose a suitable PoE switch that matches your surveillance system setups. Here are some essential factors to consider when choosing the best PoE switch for your IP cameras.
Port Numbers: Based on how many IP cameras you’re going to add to the network, select a switch with enough ports to connect all your devices on your LAN. A 4/8-port PoE switch is normally enough for residential settings, but for commercial applications, more Ethernet ports will be required to cover every weak spot in the building. And it’s always recommended to select a PoE switch built with more PoE ports than you actually need for future expansion. Basically, the larger the network, the greater number of Ethernet ports you’ll need.
Power Budget and Network Speed: Every PoE switch is manufactured in accordance with different IEEE802.3 standards, so power budget and network speed could vary in different models. Each IP camera has its own power budget: for example, a regular IP camera only needs 4-5 watts of power to function, whole a PTZ camera will require 7-9 watts to boost up. So check the power budget of the PoE switch and the maximum power it could deliver per port first before picking any PoE switches. A PoE switch that is compliant with the IEEE802.3af standard can supply a maximum power of 15W for each port, while a PoE+ switch pushes this up to 30W. When it comes to network speed, Fast Ethernet (10/100Mbps) is normally sufficient to meet the requirements of most IP camera systems while Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000Mbps) can future-proof your network with higher scalability since the network speed will gradually slow down once the distance surpasses the 100-meter Ethernet limit.
Managed Functions: PoE switches can be further divided into managed and unmanaged PoE switches according to their management. The managed switch opens up great opportunities for authorized users to prioritize and monitor the traffic to achieve the optimization of network performance. You can regulate the voltage coming out of each port on the switch and allocate more power to power-hungry devices like Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras. Moreover, it can provide security settings that can be configured in accordance with your specifications. The unmanaged switch is more straightforward, and it’s relatively more affordable. Generally speaking, the managed PoE switch is more suitable for high-density applications that call for the highest level of security like enterprise-level businesses, while the unmanaged PoE switch is more appropriate for households and SMBs.
8-Port PoE+ Switch with 2 uplink ports
The 8-port PoE+ switch has 8*10/100Mbps PoE ports and 2 uplink ports (one connected to the router, another to the NVR) to help you set up 8 cameras at a time. It supports both PoE and PoE+ devices with a total power budget of 60W (32W max. per port). This PoE+ switch supports 6KV lightning protection on all ports to prevent power surges caused by lightning strikes. The fan-less design reduces energy consumption, operating noise and dust ingress. And LED indicators are also available to monitor the performance of each RJ45 port. It is wall-mountable, giving you great flexibility in installation.
16-Port PoE+ Switch with 2 Gigabit uplink ports
The 16-port PoE+ switch has 16*10/100/1000Mbps PoE ports and 2 Gigabit uplink ports to help you build a fast-speed, high-density IP security camera system in hard-to-reach places. Compliant with IEEE802.3af/at, the 16-port PoE+ switch is embedded with a total power budget of 185W, and the maximum power available at the PDs can still remain at 30W max. It’s equipped with 2 SFP slots to help you establish a high-speed network connection at greater distances. To ensure a safe operation in harsh environments, this PoE switch features 6kV surge protection at each port and can work under a vast temperature range from -40 °C to 70 °C. And it can automatically detect and reboot your unresponsive connected devices once they go offline.