Are you struggling to connect multiple devices through Ethernet but are restricted by a limited amount of network cables? Have you ever been caught in a situation where you want to add more IP cameras to the network but only to find out all the LAN ports are occupied? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a phase of frustration that a majority of people will go through when expanding their networks. Limited Ethernet connections force people to install new network modems and infrastructure to satisfy the growing needs of today’s emerging Internet of Things (IoT).
Despite the increasing popularity of wireless technologies, a hardwired network is still the first choice for every household and enterprise since nothing could compare to its high speed and premium reliability. But installing new cables in an existing building is more expensive and the entire process is more complex. The new wires have to be run through existing walls and hidden in blind areas, and cuts and holes may also be made and patched into the walls. Approximately estimated, wiring new cables in new construction only costs $1,500-$4,500, while the price will double (nearly $3,000-$8,000) in a building that has already been built. And network management will also become more difficult because the volume of Ethernet cables drastically increases. In this article, we’ll introduce 3 methods to expand your network in a simpler and more budget-friendly way.
Solution One: Split the Cable with Ethernet Splitters
There are lots of techniques with which we can connect multiple devices via a single Ethernet cable, but the quickest and easiest way is to use an Ethernet splitter. It offers a cost-effective solution to split the existing Ethernet cable into two separate feeds to let you install 2 devices at once while reducing cable clutter. But it’s only useful when you have a router or network switch with multiple Ethernet ports available and by far the worst solution.
What is the Ethernet Splitter?
The Ethernet splitter is a plug-and-play network device that splits the Ethernet signal into two, so other devices can share the same Internet connection. If you have an Ethernet cable going from point A to point B, you can use the Ethernet splitter to amplify the signal and send it to all clients without installing any active equipment in between. This tiny device is pretty straightforward: it doesn’t require any power supply or configuration. And there are mainly two types of Ethernet splitters: the hard-wired splitter and the split-pair splitter. The hard-wired Ethernet splitter has three Ethernet ports with one on the one side and two on the other, while the split-pair Ethernet splitter has a short Ethernet cable with an RJ45 or USB connector on the one side and two Ethernet ports on the other.
How it works?
Ethernet splitters normally work in pairs to re-expand one Ethernet cable to two connections, but the single ethernet cable running between two splitters must be a Cat5e or higher and must operate over all 4 pairs of wires for both power and data transmission. The Ethernet cable normally contains four twisted pairs of copper wires. In passive PoE, four out of eight available wires are utilized for data transfer and the spare pairs for power delivery. So when you split the cable, power will only be available in one data stream. But with new PoE standards, power and data can be sent through the same twisted pairs to allow electricity to flow through both data streams.
The Ethernet splitters are the simplest way for network splitting. The Ethernet splitter works very similarly to a coupler, but only that it can split all four twisted pairs of wires into two feeds rather than simply amplifying the signal and sending it down to another Ethernet cable. For example, if you have one router in Point A and need to connect two IP cameras in Point B but there is only one wall jacket on each endpoint (wall jackets are normally connected by a network cable embedded in the wall), you can use a pair of Ethernet splitters to install the devices without running new cables through walls, floors or ceilings.
Do Ethernet Splitters Reduce Network Speed?
Well, it depends on what type of network you’re currently using. If you connect the Ethernet splitters to a Fast Ethernet network that specifies a standard data rate of 100Mbps, then they will not slow down the connection. There will only be insignificant attenuation over the cable runs which could happen in any data cabling. But when you connect the splitters to a Gigabit speed network, the network speed will automatically be downgraded to 100Mbps max. since all four twisted pairs need to be employed to forward Gigabit Ethernet to the PDs.
Ethernet splitters come in handy in certain scenarios, but apart from the reduced network speed, the Ethernet splitters also have other undesired aspects that make them by far the worst solution for network expansion. Since the data streams can only be forwarded in two separate directions, the Ethernet splitter doesn’t allow more than two devices to communicate on a single Ethernet cable. Crosstalk will also increase between different twisted pairs. And since it’s only a plug-and-play device that doesn’t come with any remote monitoring features or status indicators, the difficulties of troubleshooting and network management are bound to be increased dramatically. To sum up, Ethernet splitters are not a reasonable solution in most cases. Rather than struggling with many undesired features of Ethernet splitters, using a dual-port PoE extender would be a better option to split your Ethernet cable.
Dual-Port PoE Extenders: Alternative to Ethernet Splitters
The dual-port PoE extender is a PoE extender that has 2 PoE outputs. It’s designed to deliver power and data to two PoE devices through one Cat5 or higher-category cable. With this PoE extender, the cabling cost can be dramatically reduced. It repeats the PoE signals received from the PSE and re-transmits them to the PDs before signal degradation exhibits, forming a seamless connection. Moreover, users can easily add extra PoE devices, such as IP cameras and wireless APs, to existing cabling without running a new cable. Moreover, this dual-port PoE extender also allows you to extend the connection between your PSE and PoE devices to another 100 meters. Like other PoE equipment, it’s hot-swappable with no configuration involved and no power adapter is required (the extender can be powered by a PoE switch or injector), which greatly simplifies the installation on the job site. Even though this 2-port PoE extender is more expensive than the Ethernet splitter, only one device is demanded for the setup.
Dual-Port PoE Extenders V.S. Ethernet Splitters
1)Network Speed: As previously discussed, Ethernet splitters only support a maximum data rate of 100Mbps even when they’re connected to Gigabit Ethernet. However, the 2-port PoE extender can deliver Gigabit Ethernet data on each PoE port, ideal for installing IP cameras that request a higher bandwidth and to ensure smooth video streaming over long distances.
2)Power Management: Although these two devices can only connect two PoE devices on one cable, the PoE extender provides better power management than the splitter. Equipped with the auto-sensing PoE ports, the dual-port PoE extender can deliver just enough power that is requested to the PD and might be able to allocate the surplus power to the other PoE port, while the Ethernet splitter divides data and power equally for both connections. Fastcabling has launched a 95W 2-Port Waterproof PoE Extender that could deliver a maximum power of 60W and 30W on each PoE port to help you prioritize the power flow to each PD.
3)Deployment Distance: The Ethernet splitter just physically connects two PoE devices to the same network cable, so the distance between the PSE and PDs is still restricted to 100 meters, while the 2-port PoE extender offers a cost-effective solution to extend the distance up to 200 meters max., which gives you more freedom on where to install the IP cameras.
4)Reliability: The Ethernet splitter could easily deteriorate over years, especially in outdoor deployments. And most of the splitters are not waterproof, and any chances of water ingress will damage the circuits of the device and shut down the connection. But the PoE extender normally lasts longer. The 95W 2-Port Waterproof PoE Extender is direct-burial, IP67-rated waterproof, featuring carrier-grade surge protection (6kV), and can operate under a vast temperature from -40°C~75°C.
Plug and Play Installation
No configuration and software are required to add the device to your LAN. The 95W 2-Port Waterproof PoE Extender contains three RJ45 ports: one ‘PoE In’ port for PoE power and data input and 2 ‘PoE Out’ ports to connect the PDs. You only need to connect the 2-port PoE extender to your PoE switch or injector with the existing cable, and wire another two Ethernet cables to connect the output ports to the remote IP cameras.
Solution Two: Connect More Devices with an Outdoor PoE Switch
If you’re looking to connect more devices to one cable, then you will need to purchase a PoE switch that has more Ethernet ports. And since most IP cameras are installed outdoors, but not all PoE switches are equally developed with surge and water protection, an outdoor PoE switch is recommended to ensure safe connectivity in harsh environments. It provides an all-in-one outdoor solution to transmit both power and data to the PDs while taking advantage of the existing network cable.
What is the Outdoor PoE Switch?
The outdoor PoE switch is a PoE switch protected in a waterproof casing. It’s manufactured and tested to meet the industrial standards for operation even in applications that require the highest level of reliability like surveillance camera systems. The most obvious advantage of using a PoE switch is that it has more Ethernet ports so you can connect more devices on the same switch. Most PoE switches are only designed for indoor applications like within an office building or between two workstations. And they can only work under a quite limited operating temperature range from 0°C~40°C. But the outdoor PoE switches can be installed in any imaginable environment and operate safely over a vast temperature range. Each port is equipped with carrier-grade surge protection, which makes it ultra user-friendly for average families and small and medium-sized businesses.
Outdoor PoE Switch IP67 Waterproof
Housed in an IP67-rated metal enclosure, this outdoor PoE switch has 7*10/100/1000 Mbps PoE ports and a 1Gbps RJ45 Ethernet uplink port to support a maximum power output of 30W on a per-port basis (120W in total). It features 6kv surge protection and a wide operating temperature of -25°C~60°C. This outdoor PoE switch is also built with an internal power bank to work with various kinds of external power supplies like AC 100-240V, solar power, etc., to guarantee the continued operation of the outdoor PoE switch and connected devices at greater distances. And it is equipped with auto-sensing PoE ports that automatically detect the compatibility of the connected devices to lower the chances of power outages, operation failures, etc., and prevent irreversible electrical damages caused to the PDs.
Benefits of Deploying the Outdoor PoE Switch
• All-in-one PoE solution for both power and data delivery
• High-speed data transmission of up to 1 Gbps for long-distance applications
• Immunity to EMI, network congestion, severe weather conditions, etc.
• A cost-effective solution that eliminates additional power cabling
• Rugged, vandal-proof enclosure ideal for outdoor applications
Tips on Installing Outdoor PoE Switches
1) Prevent Power Surges with the Surge Protectors
When deploying network devices outdoors, you should always take some precautions to protect your devices and appliances from power surges, especially in long-range applications. If large enough, a power surge can cause permanent damage to the PDs. So to prolong the service life of your network devices and prevent the need for costly repairs, you’ll need to install the surge protectors at both ends to regulate the flow of electricity. The surge protector makes sure your events function more reliably and protects the connected devices from damage during sudden power surges.
2) Choose the Right Cables for Outdoor Environments
When choosing an appropriate network cable for your outdoor project, you need to remember that it has to withstand the adverse conditions of the outdoor environment. For safe operation, you should choose one that is waterproof, and covered with a UV-resistant jacket designed to withstand UV exposure, snow and ice. And it’s highly recommended to use direct burial cables that can be buried under the ground with conduits. For outdoor applications, you should always go for the CMX cables that have a great tolerance for extreme temperatures, water ingress, etc., and they also block the UV light to prevent degradation in long-term use.
3) Check the Compatibility of the Connected Devices
Most PSEs can’t deliver the full power that the PDs request. And in this case, the PSE will still power the PDs but with less power than is requested because it will demote the devices to a lower type. To ensure full compatibility, you should check the power class of the PSE and PDs to make sure they belong to the same power class, or the PSE will shut down the device for drawing too much power. Moreover, you have to make sure that the connected devices are PoE-compatible. If it’s a non-PoE device, you will need a PoE splitter to mix PoE and non-PoE devices on the same network. Unlike the Ethernet splitter, the PoE splitter can power a non-PoE device by splitting PoE power from data and delivering them through separate outputs to the PD.
Solution Three: Expand Ethernet with a PoE Passthrough Switch
The PoE passthrough switch is a preferred choice for situations where no power source is present. It can work as both a powered device (PD) and a power sourcing equipment (PSE), which means that the switch itself can be powered by a PSE (a PoE switch or PoE injector) while simultaneously providing power to the connected PDs.
What is the PoE Passthrough Switch?
PoE passthrough may sound complicated, but in reality, it’s a simple technology that allows switches and other network devices to receive PoE power over the existing Ethernet cable from an upstream PoE switch. PoE allows the network devices such as WAPs, IP cameras and VoIP phones to receive power from PoE-enabled switch ports, while PoE passthrough allows a switch to receive power from an upstream switch and pass it through to PoE devices. The network switch built with such features is normally called the PoE passthrough switch or the PoE powered switch, which allows various devices to be connected to the network and the power source without needing direct connections to your central unit.
4/8-Port PoE Powered Switch
Fastcabling has specially designed two types of PoE passthrough switches to provide an easy, time and cost-saving solution for installers to power PoE-enabled devices at the edge of the network. The 4-port PoE powered switch has 4*10/100/1000 Mbps PoE ports and 1*1Gbps PoE passthrough port. It is compliant with the IEEE802.3at standards, featuring a maximum power output of 30W per port (65W in total) and can power multiple network devices like WAPs and VoIP, etc. This PoE powered switch comes in a compact size and requires no additional power cabling, ideal for space-constrained applications. Each port is equipped with 6kV surge protection to ensure the ongoing functionality of the switch and connected devices. It’s built with a fanless cooling design, suitable for installation in dusty spaces like ceilings and basements. And we’ve also launched an 8-port PoE powered switch that comes with more PoE interfaces to allow you to set up 7 IP cameras at a time. It features a larger power budget of 71W and can operate at a wider operating temperature of -20°C~70°C.
Benefits of Using a PoE Passthrough Switch
Since the PoE passthrough switch has the passthrough features built in it, it can be installed in any place without the constraints of an AC outlet. The PoE passthrough switch can be applied in hard-to-access spaces, such as attics, closets, above drop ceilings, basements and tunnels, or some places where the existing power outlets are already occupied for other uses. And like the regular PoE switch, the PoE passthrough switch will only supply power to PoE-compatible devices, so if you accidentally connect a non-PoE device to it, only data will flow through.
How to Power the PoE Passthrough Switch
Here are basically two methods to install the PoE passthrough switch: using a PoE injector or a PoE switch. PoE switches don’t actually consume much power, and they still need around 15-30W to operate. To ensure the optimal functionality of the PoE passthrough switch and the connected PDs, you’ll need to use a high-power PSE.
1) Use a 90/95W 802.3bt PoE injector
As the demand for higher power increases, choosing a high-power PoE injector can be a much better option to supply enough power to the PoE passthrough switch. Fastcabling’s 90/95W 802.3bt PoE Injector is compatible with PoH protocol and IEEE802.3bt standards to deliver 72W max. to the powered device while supporting a data rate of 10/100/1000Mbps. It is highly reliable, featuring carrier-grade surge protection to protect the device against ESD events. This PoE injector can be used together with the 4-port PoE powered switch to install multiple network devices without handling a mess of Ethernet cables.
2) Use a the 802.3bt PoE switch
As previously mentioned, few switches can deliver more than 60W per port, but Fastcabling has launched a high-power PoE switch that can offer a maximum power of 90W to install power-hungry devices like LED lighting, information kiosks, etc. It has 6 PoE ports and two of these can support a power output of up to 90W (30W max. for the 4 remaining PoE ports). Since it features a larger power budget (120W), it can be used together with the 8-port PoE powered switch to connect more IP devices to the LAN with the existing cabling.