A security camera is an excellent tool for home protection to deter potential burglars and it also helps cut down security-related costs for monitoring strategic locations. And with the development of IP technology, most of the units today are PoE-supported so they’ll be able to stream and broadcast the video through the Internet. A complete IP security camera system doesn’t only consist of the camera itself, but also the power supply and video recorder. The PoE NVR and PoE switch are the two common ways to set up the IP cameras. Supporting devices like NVRs, PoE switches, and PoE NVRs are equally as important as the IP cameras to manage your surveillance system, but most people have no idea which is better: the PoE NVR or the PoE switch? In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the PoE NVR and the PoE switch and help you choose the best device for your security system.
What is PoE?
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a technology that allows the power supply equipment (PSE) to transmit power and data simultaneously via a single Ethernet cable to the powered devices (PDs). It’s widely used in both commercial and industrial applications, like security camera systems, building access controls, video conference systems and industrial automation, to provide centralized management of your network. Fewer cables are needed for deployment, thereby eliminating additional power cabling and reducing installation costs. PoE provides a reliable power source from a centralized point rather than a collection of randomly distributed power outlets, which dramatically lowers the chances of power failures.
Is PoE Safe to Your Network?
It largely depends on which type of PoE you’re using. IEEE802.3af/at/bt compliant PoE (aka standard PoE) is inherently safe even when connected to a device that is not designed for PoE use. Before the PSE sends any power to the PDs, it’ll send a low-voltage pulse (2V-10V) to the connected PD to verify it’s PoE-supported. It will periodically repeat this procedure until the compatible device is connected. Then, the PSE will determine how much power the PD requires and send just enough power to that load to guarantee the optimal performance of the connected device. However, passive/non-standard PoE only operates at a pre-defined voltage, so it’s important that you know the voltage of the connected PD, or safety hazards may arise when connected to the wrong voltage.
Advantages of Using PoE in IP Camera
1)Reduced installation costs: PoE reduces the need for installing new electrical infrastructure when installing your IP cameras in hard-to-reach places where there’s no existing power source available. Installing a new AC outlet will cost $185 per unit, and you also need to hire a qualified electrician to walk you through all the necessary steps.
2) Network speed: The PoE technology is always evolving. Now, it can deliver data at 1 Gbps (10/100/1000 Mbps) to power cameras with different bandwidth requirements. And you can prioritize the network traffic to each device to ensure the optimal performance of the cameras.
3) Safety: PoE is a hot-swappable, plug-and-play technology, and you can easily disconnect the IP cameras without taking the PSE offline. Moreover, since PoE utilizes a relatively low voltage, which is harmless to the human body, it’ll not give rise to any safety hazard.
4) Scalability: PoE is a future-proof technology that can be scaled up easily to add more cameras to the network. The legacy network devices can also be upgraded to PoE-enabled units, which greatly simplifies the procedure of building new network connections.
What is a PoE NVR?
The PoE NVR is a 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 four to eight IP cameras at a time, 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.
How to Use?
Since the PoE NVR integrates the PoE switch and NVR in the same unit, you can directly connect the IP cameras to this device without using any supporting equipment. The PoE NVR offers comprehensive video storage and management solution for average users to set up the cameras within minutes. It can auto-recognize and power the compatible PoE cameras and store the captured footage for real-time monitoring or scheduled playback with a clearly referenced timeline and calendar on the frame. Follow the instructions below for the setup:
1) Plug the PoE NVR into the mains power to activate the device;
2) Take a short patch cord to connect the PoE NVR to the router for network connection;
3) Then take a long Ethernet cable, connect one end to one of the PoE ports on the NVR and connect another end to the pigtail of the IP camera and check if the indicator is on;
4) Lastly, connect the PoE NVR to a monitor for video display.
What is a PoE Switch?
The 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 come with any recording feature, so it should work with an NVR for video recording and playback.
How It Works?
The PoE switch normally works in 3 modes: Mode A, Mode B and 4-pair Mode. In Mode A, the PoE switch can deliver power directly to a powered device (PD) through the data pairs (1,2 and 3,6). In other words, the power and data can be delivered on the same twisted pairs (2 pairs). However, the PoE switch that supports Mode B configuration usually uses the spare pairs (4,5 and 7,8) to transport power to the connected device, which means the power and data are transmitted through different wires. And in the 4-pair Mode, all four twisted pairs can be used for power transmission.
How to Use?
Provided that the PoE switch doesn’t support any video recording feature, it should be used together with the NVR to power the PoE cameras via the Ethernet cabling. You can hardwire the PoE switch to the NVR or just connect them under the same network. First, you’ll need to power both devices with AC power to start up the devices. Then, use a short patch cord to connect one of the uplink ports of the switch to one of the LAN ports on the router. Then connect the NVR to the same router to make sure the NVR and PoE switch stay on the same network. Third, use some Ethernet cables to connect the IP cameras to the PoE switch. Lastly, connect the NVR to a monitor or TV via a VGA or HDMI cable and make sure you connect the device to the right input.
What’s the Difference Between a PoE NVR and a PoE Switch?
Power Budget: The PoE NVR only supports quite a limited amount of power since the Most models can only support IEEE802.3af standard with a total power budget of 15W, which is only enough to power 4 fixed IP cameras on the job site, while an infrared PTZ camera would consume at least 40 watts of power to function properly. On the other hand, the PoE switch provides a richer selection of power budgets, varying from 15W to 90W on each PoE port to make sure various types of IP cameras can receive enough power.
Channels: Most PoE NVRs are only built with 4 or 8 PoE interfaces, but the PoE switch provides more PoE ports (4/8/16/32/64) to allow you to install more IP cameras and other network devices at the same switch. And the PoE switch is highly scalable. By connecting the device to another PoE switch, the Ethernet ports can be expanded within minutes. Moreover, compared with the PoE NVR, the NVR normally has 32~64 channels. And you don’t have to connect the cameras directly to the NVR. Just connect the PoE switch and the NVR on the same network, and then the connection is accomplished.
Flexibility: 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. Like any other PoE solution, the PoE NVR only supports a maximum transmission distance of 100 meters, so you’ll need to install a PoE extender to repeat the signals over long distances for each connection. However, the PoE switch can offer more placement and deployment options in complex environments. It can be deployed basically anywhere and makes it easy to add new network equipment to the existing network.
Redundancy: 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 or maintain a PoE NVR, and sometimes you have to replace the whole unit if the circuits are broken. Moreover, for PoE switches that come with two uplink ports, you can also connect a backup NVR to the device to mitigate data loss during network failures.
Management: The PoE NVR is a plug-and-play device without any configuration features, while the managed PoE 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.
Which is the Better Fit?
The PoE NVR is relatively more affordable than the PoE switch since it integrates the PoE switch and the NVR on the same unit. It features a very straightforward setup with no configuration involved, offering an all-in-one solution for users to DIY their networks. But since most PoE NVRs are only built with a limited number of interfaces, their application is highly limited to household use and small businesses, where only a few devices are to be connected. For people who have little experience on Internet, the PoE NVR is definitely a perfect choice. But the PoE switch is clearly a winner when building a more complicated IP security camera system. It delivers superior performance and unlimited access thanks to its infinite scalability. The PoE switch is more reliable and secure to avoid any direct temper on the device, while the PoE NVR poses a greater threat to cybersecurity. Once the device is taken offline, the whole system will go down together. Therefore, the PoE switch can be deployed for high-density applications and professional-grade networks that call for the highest level of security like enterprise-level businesses. The PoE switch can automatically detect and reboot the unresponsive PDs when they accidentally go offline. In addition, it allows you to monitor and regulate the traffic coming in and out of each PoE port and allocate the power to the connected PDs according to their priorities. So it’s more suitable for commercial and industrial applications where a professional network is required.
Best types of PoE Switches
In this section, we’ll introduce various types of PoE switches to meet your needs in different scenarios.
Outdoor PoE Switch
The outdoor PoE switch is specially designed for use in harsh environments to protect the device from water ingress and lightning strikes in outdoor settings. 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 outdoor PoE switch is often available in Din-Rail, wall and pole-mounting options to simplify the setup on the job site. Most outdoor PoE switches often come with a hardened enclosure of IP67 or a rugged design to survive extreme weather conditions, shocks, vibration, etc. Each PoE ported is armed with 6kV surge protection to protect the device from damages caused by lightning strikes, unstable power input and electrical surges.
And Fastcabling also launches an outdoor PoE switch that is equipped with an internal power bank to work with various kinds of external power supplies like AC 100-240V (the voltage range at 802.3at mode is DC 53V), solar power, etc., to guarantee the continued operation of the outdoor PoE switch and connected devices at greater distances. For places where you cannot find an existing power outlet, you can use an outdoor PoE passthrough switch. The PoE passthrough switch can operate as both a powered device (PD) and a power sourcing equipment (PSE) at the same time to receive the power from the PSE and pass it to the connected PDs like IP cameras and wireless access points.
Long Range PoE+ Switch
To provide more comprehensive coverage of the monitoring site, the IP cameras are often installed at remote places away from the control center, and sometimes the distance will be over 100 meters, the tipping point beyond which the PSE will stop working. To overcome the geographic limit of standard PoE, you can use a PoE switch that is equipped with the VLAN function to install the cameras beyond 100 meters. The PoE switches usually come with two modes: Default and CCTV. In the Default mode, each PoE port can communicate with each other and supports a transmission speed of 10/100/1000Mbps within 100m. But if the CCTV mode or VLAN function is enabled, the distance will be extended to 250 meters but as a compromise, the network speed will be reduced to 10Mbps. Another effective way to extend your Ethernet without sacrificing the network speed is to use a long-range PoE switch.
The long-range PoE switch can deliver data and power transmission of up to 500 meters over one Ethernet cable to help you install your IP cameras over long distances. With the long-range PoE switch, you’re able to power the edge devices remotely via ‘one cable’ without deploying multiple PoE extension equipment over long cable runs. It addresses the problem of voltage drop in long-distance deployments. Fastcabling has launched 4-/8-port long-range PoE switches that are compliant with the IEEE 802.3 standards to supply maximum power output of up to 30W on a per-port basis to power high-power devices at the edge.
High-Power PoE Switch
The PTZ cameras built with special features like IR night vision and pan-tilt-zoom normally consume more energy to operate at their full throughput. 40W is average for running a PTZ camera that comes with built-in motors, stabilizers, IR illuminators, etc., but considering the power loss over the long cable run, at least 50 watts of power needs to be available at the PSE. To install such cameras, you’ll need a high-power PoE++ switch. With the latest PoE standards, the PSE can deliver a maximum power of 60/90W to the PDs.
Fastcabling has launched an 8-port 60W visual PoE managed switch that can supply a maximum power of 60W on ports#1-4 (30W max. on ports#5-8). It comes with two Gigabit SFP slots to deliver a fast-speed, low-latency network connection in long-distance applications. The built-in LCD screen exhibits the real-time condition of the PoE switch and allows you to easily manage each individual port. By supporting Layer 3 IPv4 or IPv6 dual-stack and various management functions, this visual PoE++ managed switch helps small businesses to step into the IPv6 networks with the lowest investment. It is loaded with QoS features to prioritize and monitor the traffic coming out of each PoE port and enhance the bandwidth management to improve user experience and ensure better response time, particularly useful for enterprise networks.