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Complete Guide to PoE IP Camera Network Setup

Nowadays, IP cameras with PoE, the so-called PoE cameras, have been widely used for IP surveillance system setup due to their improvements on installation and maintenance. In fact, building a network is a crucial and relatively complex part of PoE camera system setup. Today, we’ll talk about PoE IP camera basics, and tend to give some useful guidelines that help build a PoE camera network effectively and reliably.

PoE IP Camera Overview

Some might still have scarce knowledge about PoE IP cameras or have no idea why choose PoE cameras as the final result. Here we recap an overview of PoE cameras for those who only have an initial thought to apply PoE cameras.

What is a PoE IP Camera?

To better understand PoE IP cameras, for the starter, we should figure out two terms, namely IP camera and PoE.

IP cameras, advanced versions compared to traditional CCTV analog cameras, supply incredible high-definition video footage with other features like remote access, motion detection, and instant alerts, because the captured content is decoded in the camera internally, and is distributed over an IP(Internet Protocol) network.

PoE stands for Power over Ethernet, a new technology that enables Ethernet network cable to carry power, that being said, power and network can be transmitted simultaneously over a single cable. This greatly simplifies the cabling work for wired IP cameras. Besides, PoE technology is also popularly applied for VoIP phones, wireless access points, access control, point-of-sale kiosks, and other IoT-based network devices.

PoE IP cameras, simply put, as its name implies, are IP cameras with PoE capability, taking advantage of PoE and serving simplified installation with high performance. 

How Does a PoE IP Camera Work?

Let’s step back to IP cameras again. Before PoE cameras came out, generally, IP cameras require two separating cabling to deliver power and data, and need to plug into a wall outlet. While PoE cameras just demand one copper-based Ethernet cabling, as they receive power and network over a single cable, saving a nearby power outlet.

Benefits of PoE IP Cameras

As mentioned at the beginning, more and more people choose PoE cameras to build IP surveillance systems largely because of their numerous advantages. In the following, let’s get a closer look into what specific benefits are available.

●High Quality Video

As stated above, PoE cameras belong to IP cameras, so it supports sharp video footage that allows you to capture more critical details that are needed. Moreover, PoE cameras use a wired connection for data/PoE transmission, unlike wireless cameras that rely on air for signal communication, a wired connection is regarded as the most reliable way to ensure stable signal transmission, which suffers less from physical interference like electrical or microwave signal. To sum up, PoE cameras do well in supplying high-quality video footage, as a result, the IP surveillance performance can increase as well.

●Easy and Flexible Installation

PoE cameras are PoE-compliant to realize easier installation as the cabling work for cameras is greatly simplified thanks to the need for only a single Ethernet cable to send power and data. You are able to gain great flexibility on camera placement since additional power outlets present around the cameras are eliminated. That said, you can place PoE cameras at locations where hard to find or deploy a wall outlet, such as ceilings.

●Reduced Deployment Cost and Time

PoE cameras use one cable instead of two to get power and data, and fewer cables naturally mean less cost on buying and less time on installing cables, especially for large system deployments. And there is no need for you to hire professional electricians to run wires for cameras especially, then quite a little money and time can be saved.

●High Scalability

It is much easier to scale more PoE cameras than traditional IP cameras counterparts by simply expanding more PoE ports for connecting new PoE cameras with fast plug-and-play installation.

 ●Enhanced Safety

PoE is meant to a safe power supply over quality cable. It features low voltage power passing through the connection as there is no need for you to deal with dangerous AC current. In addition, the PoE detection function enables accurate power by releasing a low amount to test firstly for specific cameras. Combined with its protective mechanisms to against damages like overloading, insufficient power, short-circuiting, etc. All in all, it offers enhanced safety to the system than traditional camera systems powered by a power outlet.

●Improved Reliability

With PoE technology integrated into the system, you are capable of building a united and reliable centralized power source replacing the distributed one powered by a wall adaptor. A centralized power source indicates improved reliability with easier management and monitoring. Moreover, the ability to create a backup power source by using UPS( Uninterruptible Power Source) to maintain continuous operation when unexpected power failures occur.

How to Set up Network for PoE IP Cameras?

Next, we’ll get back to the core to build a network for PoE cameras. Sometimes it is overwhelming for end users without decent IT or PoE networking knowledge, let alone beginners, learning some useful guidelines is essential to ensure a proper and reliable purchase and implementation.

Learn Network Basics of PoE IP Cameras

Before going deep it makes sense to know about PoE camera network setup basics. The network is a broad concept, and specifically, it can be divided into different network types, such as the two commonly used types, WLAN(Wireless Area Network) and LAN(Local Area Network),  meeting different applications.

WLAN can simply mean the same as the so-called Wi-Fi in most situations, which transmits data via the wireless network. And the majority of people know wireless cameras rely on a WiFi network(WLAN) to function. Similarly, PoE IP cameras generally depend on LAN to accomplish data transmission and information communications. Set up the LAN for PoE cameras, requires networking devices like routers and network switches, and we will discuss the feasible solutions and hardware needed later.

Draw up a Plan Ahead

As a matter of fact, networking infrastructures are not the same, and for people who have existing networking infrastructures, this largely determines how to upgrade to fit PoE cameras. Before beginning it’s imperative to make a plan that is based on the practical condition and takes account into future growth. The plan should figure out the system size, and floor drawing of the deployment place and make clear your needs. Once this information is determined, you tend to make the correct choices that reach optimal performance and minimize labor and unnecessary cost.

Determine Networking Solutions(Hardware)

Getting a PoE camera network setup mainly focuses on whether the system comes with PoE capability or not. If not, finding the best-suited way to build a new PoE network or add PoE to the existing network is the key thing. We mainly introduce the three most commonly used solutions or hardware as below.

●Solution#1 Utilize PoE Switch

As mentioned above, routers and network switches are two universally applied network devices to build networks for data transmission and communications. Most of them are not PoE-enabled, especially those used for homes or small businesses earlier than the prevalence of PoE technology. The problem is how can you make PoE cameras work with these non-PoE networking devices?

For systems that use the non-PoE routers and network switches to build network infrastructure, using PoE switches is the most popular and effective way to build networks for PoE cameras.

What is a PoE Switch and Why Use it?

A PoE switch is easy to understand, which is the network switch with PoE, utilizing a single cable to deliver power and data at the same time for connected network devices with PoE, like PoE cameras, and PoE WAPs, PoE VoIP phones.

The reasons why choose PoE switches are straightforward. PoE switches are generally equipped with multiple PoE ports, allowing you to add multiple PoE cameras with only one device consuming less time on deployment. Similarly, one central power source for a PoE switch can deal with multiple connections for PoE cameras. More importantly, PoE switches can work with non-PoE routers or network switches compatibly, that being said, you are able to keep the old networking devices instead of throwing them away if you think they still work, especially for those still serve good performance.

PoE Switch Types: Unmanaged VS. Managed

PoE switches can be classified into various types according to features, design, or other facets. Here we want to emphasize two types of PoE switches that differentiate by the level of management to network, namely unmanaged PoE switches and managed PoE switches. To use which one, so to speak, significantly affect the level and performance of the PoE camera network. Let’s walk through the two types of PoE switch briefly.

Unmanaged PoE switches generally refer to plug-and-play PoE switches, and they can be considered the most basic type that features fixed configuration, in other words, they can be installed fast and easily without additional configurations. It can satisfy basic networking needs for the smallest system that chases ultra simplicity. What’s more, unmanaged PoE switches are cheap for most to afford, thus it is the perfect option for people with a tight budget.

Managed PoE switches can do more on network management and control with their advanced features than their unmanaged counterpart, like QoS, VLAN, Port Aggregation, STP, ERPS, and so on. With the help of these configurations, the performance and security of the network can be greatly improved. For this reason, managed PoE switches tend to cost much and call for professional technicians with decent knowledge. Managed PoE switches are commonly used for medium-to-large systems with demanding requirements.

Due to limited space, you can read our previous blog post if you want to know more information about the differences between unmanaged and managed PoE switches and which to choose from.

PoE Switch Purchase Guide

Literally, numerous PoE switches available in the market opt for you to choose from. There are several factors to look into, including port density, power budget, output power, network speed, etc. We mainly focus on the port density here, and the other listed factors will be wrapped up in the below Key Recommendations section.

In general, the supported port of PoE switches varies from 4 to a maximum of 48 ports. When purchasing PoE switches to connect PoE cameras or the entire IP surveillance system, it is important to calculate all the ready-to-connect devices, not to forget the computers and NVRs, and to consider whether there is the possibility of adding more cameras or system coverage in the near future. Take PoE switches equipped with 8 ports instead of 4 ports, or choose 24 ports instead of 16 ports, and so on. FASTCABLING offers a number of unmanaged and managed PoE switches fitting various applications or requirements.

How to Connect PoE Switch to PoE Camera?

Most people assume that it is complex to get PoE cameras connected to the PoE switch and that’s not quite true. With the advantage of PoE, you can finish the connection with easy plug-and-play installation, and you just need to connect the PoE camera to one of the PoE ports in the PoE switch with a single Ethernet cable, such as Cat5e, or Cat6. Once the PoE switch is powered by plugging the correct power adaptor into a wall outlet, the PoE camera network is built successfully on the premise that the PoE switch is linked to the non-PoE router or network switch over the uplink port or one of the RJ45 ports.

● Solution#2 Apply PoE NVR and Router

Someone take PoE NVR as a preferred alternative. Since PoE camera systems typically make use of NVRs( Network Video Recorder) to achieve real-time monitoring and mass local recording. If planning to use NVR in your camera system, PoE NVR plus router is an alternative solution for people who desire to reduce installation hassle in virtue of less equipment being used, for home or small business uses in particular.

What is a PoE NVR and Its Differences from PoE Switches?

A PoE NVR, can be regarded as the NVR with PoE, or the NVR with built-in PoE switches, simply put, it is a combination of NVR and PoE switch. The traditional NVRs are typically equipped with single or dual LAN ports to connect network devices like routers or network switches, while the PoE NVRs come with a couple of PoE ports allowing to connect to PoE cameras directly for PoE transmission and data communication.

At first glance, PoE NVR seems superior to PoE switch of its capability to kill two birds with one stone. Actually, PoE NVRs do have their limitations. First of all, a PoE NVR integrates two devices in a single unit, which means as long as any breakdown occurs, you need to replace both the NVR and the network switch at a time. Additionally, the majority of PoE NVRs can only support 4 PoE ports due to limited power budget and space, and they hardly afford PoE cameras that need high power, such as PTZ cameras with heaters. By contrast, PoE switches can supply more PoE ports and flexible expansion, not to say their administration capability on the network. In short, PoE NVRs can meet home PoE camera system setup with lower cost and convenience.

How Does the PoE NVR Work with PoE Cameras?

PoE NVRs can connect the PoE camera quite simply as the way connecting the PoE switch and PoE camera, only one copper-based Ethernet cable to link the PoE NVR and PoE camera to achieve PoE connection. But there is no need to connect to an NVR separately and connect to the non-PoE router instead.

Solution#3 Add PoE Injector

What if one or two PoE cameras need to install, it is cost-effective to use the PoE injector to build a PoE network for the cameras. PoE injectors primarily enable PoE-enabled devices to work with the non-PoE network seamlessly and safely.

PoE Injector Introduction and Advantages

A PoE injector is also a kind of PSE(Power Sourcing Equipment) like the PoE switch. PoE injectors are standalone devices, which as the name indicates, inject power to the non-PoE network system and create PoE capability to build seamless PoE connection for installing PoE cameras with single cabling.

Generally, one PoE injector is able to connect to one PoE camera. It is much cheaper than PoE switches, which is the best-suited choice if you have a non-PoE network and only need a PoE network for connecting one or two PoE cameras, certainly, it can be used for other PoE-enabled network devices, like PoE WAPs.

Since the connection is independent, then using PoE injectors is also a nice choice to get enhanced stability avoiding situations such as the PoE switch failing therewith all the connected PoE cameras stopping working simultaneously.

Furthermore, PoE injectors come with another advantage to fit applications that need high power. As mentioned earlier, some PTZ cameras with heaters require high-power PoE+/PoE++ to function. If you have one or two locations employing this kind of high-power PTZ camera, using IEEE802.3bt 60W/95W PoE injectors to grant more power to the network is feasible and convenient.

How to Use PoE Injector for PoE Camera?

The connection of the PoE injector and PoE camera is not complex and safe by using one Ethernet cable to connect two devices. PoE injectors are typically equipped with an Ethernet port and a PoE out port. Generally, they receive a network from the non-PoE router or network switch through the Ethernet port and supply a PoE network for the PoE camera via the PoE out port. Don’t forget that PoE injectors work similarly to the PoE switches, they need to be powered by AC power sources, such as wall outlets.

Think about the Deployment Environment

In the PoE camera network setup, the deployment environment is an important factor that impacts the network stability and performance to some extent. To solve unstable connections or reduce network failure, it is highly recommended to choose suitable networking hardware in line with a practical deployment environment.

PoE switches, PoE injectors provide dispersed grades, like commercial grade, industrial hardened grade and outdoor type, etc. They vary in the ability to against physical elements that have the potential to damage the hardware, including bad weather, extreme temperature, corrosion, and so on.

Take the PoE switch as an example, commercial grade PoE switches are generally used for indoor deployment where can maintain a sound operation condition, while industrial hardened grade PoE switches are specially designed to fit industrial or other demanding applications, they can stand extreme temperatures, supporting -40°C to 75°C wide working temperature to maintain reliable network operation. When the deployment locations tend to expose to moisture or rain, outdoor PoE switches are the optimum option to get great resistance to water damage with excellent water-sealed housing.

There are industrial-grade PoE injectors and outdoor PoE injectors available in FASTCABLING if your hardware is likely to experience tough circumstances.

Key Recommendations to PoE Camera Networking

To ensure the the effectiveness and reduce installation hassle, we hope to give some key recommendations to simplify and optimized your PoE camera network setup.

Source the Right PoE Standard

To take advantage of PoE technology, the PoE standard is a major term that calls for additional consideration. Because standard and qualified PoE network devices are complied with specific PoE standards to work compatibly. The power issue is the network problem equivalently to some degree as PoE connection involves power and network transmission.

By now, there are three PoE standards, respectively, IEEE802.3af, IEEE802.3at, and IEEE802.3bt, which supply a certain amount of power for connected PoE devices. If the PoE standard is unmatched, the connection between the PoE switch/PoE injector/PoE NVR and the PoE camera probably won’t make sense due to insufficient power being received. Below is the chart showing the output power of each PoE standard.

Consider Bandwidth Issues

Since it is about network, considering bandwidth issues is nonnegligible. The network speed or video streaming quality and performance is largely determined by how much bandwidth can obtain. Bandwidth issues refer to the PoE camera types, the quantity of PoE cameras, and the deployment distance of the PoE cameras from the main network.

The principles basically are that HD cameras consume more bandwidth; the more cameras require the larger bandwidth; the longer distance for the camera mounting, the higher bandwidth is needed.

There are common Ethernet networks (10Mbps), fast Ethernet networks (100Mbps), gigabit Ethernet networks (1000Mbps), and 10G Ethernet networks for you to choose from. In most cases, fast Ethernet and gigabit Ethernet network can suffice PoE camera network system.

Mind the Distance Limitation of PoE

In the PoE camera network setup process, there is one thing to note the PoE network comes with inherent transmission distance limitation, reaching a maximum distance of 100 meters due to single degradation and power loss. Beyond this range, the connection is unstable or even impractical. Provided that you need to install the PoE camera in a long distance, the so-call long-range deployment, you are supposed to find PoE extension solutions or tools to get the distance extended. PoE extenders are commonplace devices to be utilized because of their easy installation and low cost.

Implement Advanced Network Setup

As large camera network systems or mission-critical facilities, they tend to seek ways to build an advanced network. From the previously discussed content, we know that there are managed PoE switches enables managerial features for high performance and security.

For instance, make use of VLAN function to build a segregated LAN network for the PoE camera system specially, network management and maintenance is much easier, convenient and secure thanks to the distinct network access authority. A network segment is also useful to enhance network performance as less data traffic passes through and needs to be processed in this path.


To build PoE camera network is not that complex as people assumed. There are various ways to to build a PoE network, and the key to is to think about practical needs and pay attention to some critical factors and recommendations. If you are still confused about PoE networking or want to know more information, FASTCABLING professional tech team always waits for your contact and consult.

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