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Useful Guide to IP Camera System Setup with PoE Switches

The importance of IP security cameras to homes and businesses cannot be stressed enough. They have helped a lot in deterring theft and crimes, collecting information about suspicious activities and providing continuous surveillance over your properties at all hours. In case a theft does occur, the recordings of the security camera can serve as strong evidence against criminals. A company must realize the importance of the IP camera system due to a recent run of break-ins. The IP cameras ensure the safety of employees, the confidentiality of information, etc. By continuously transmitting live or recorded footage to the central base, the IP cameras allow you to know what happens in real time and make informed decisions. With the increasing availability of IP cameras in one’s properties, the need for centralized management has become more urgent than ever.

3 Things to Know about Using PoE for IP Security Cameras

PoE is the best solution to realize centralized power and data management for IP surveillance. It’s extremely useful in the security camera system because the Ethernet cable is cheaper and easier to run than coaxial cabling. In addition to the ease of cable running, PoE can support cameras of higher resolution to offer improved video quality.

What’s PoE?

Running multiple cables to your security cameras can be a real pain. An IP security camera needs at least two connections for working properly: one Ethernet cable to carry data, and one power cable to carry electrical currents to power the device, but running two cables for each camera can get expensive and time-consuming. Imagine how many cables you will need to handle if there are 8-16 cameras installed on your properties. And here’s where PoE steps in. Unlike the traditional cabling solutions, PoE can provide power and Internet connection to your cameras simultaneously using only one Ethernet cable, which has greatly reduced the amount of infrastructure you need to handle.

Is PoE Technology Safe?

From the technical perspective, PoE is a mature technology that has been developed for years. It is a hot-swappable technology that helps networks stay resilient while IT troubleshoots. The faulty device can be disconnected easily without taking the entire system offline, reducing network downtime and making disaster recovery faster than ever. Moreover, PoE injected in a cable normally is well kept at a voltage of 48V DC, which is reasonably safe for most people under normal conditions.

And because of the way it works, PoE (the one compliant with IEEE802.3 standards) is built to be inherently safe. The power sourcing equipment (PSE) will send a low-voltage current to the powered device (PD) before any power is delivered to check whether the device supports PoE or not. If there is no PD connected or there is no negotiation between the PSE and PD, there’ll be no power delivered. Once the connection is established, the PSE will determine how much power the PD requires and monitor the amount of current being sent. If the current goes too high or too low, the connection will be immediately shut down. However, power is being supplied 24/7 in a standard AC outlet regardless of whether the device is connected.

What’s the Advantage of PoE?

PoE is a revolutionary technology that provides a reliable network connection for devices, such as security cameras, access points and IP intercoms. And PoE also brings a multitude of benefits to new installations and system updates.

Simple cabling, reduced installation cost

The most obvious advantage when deploying PoE is that the number of wires that should be connected is highly reduced. As previously mentioned, each camera now only requires one cable for both power and data transmission, which greatly simplifies and reduces the cost of installation. Moreover, PoE eliminates the need for hiring professional electricians to install new electrical systems and outlets. And the camera can also be located up to 100 meters from the PSE, which is a great help in outdoor surveillance, where the optimal camera placement is seldom close to a power source.

Higher level of reliability, scalability

When deploying IP cameras for safety and security reasons, most people use PoE to ensure a reliable connection. When using PoE, you have a unified and cohesive power source instead of relying on multiple power adapters. You can also choose to create an uninterruptible power supply to ensure that the camera continues to operate even in the event of a power outage. It provides a significantly more reliable power and network connection that won’t easily damage or deteriorate over years of use. PoE is constantly evolving to support new types of devices with higher power requirements. It can handle a growing amount of work and a larger network system. It has greater potential to be amplified to accommodate growth and ensure overall productivity is maintained.

Easier installation and reduced maintenance

PoE is basically a plug-and-play technology that you can completely do it yourself and set it up within minutes. You can easily connect and disconnect the camera and move it to another location to adapt to your security requirements. And since fewer devices are required for the setup, the installation time can be cut down by at least 30%. Moreover, by reducing the amount of cabling and hardware, there’s less maintenance required in a PoE camera system than the traditional DVR system. It uses false protection to prevent any possibility of damage to the equipment in the event of a malfunction. The PSE will shut down the power supply if an overcurrent or short circuit is detected.

PoE Switches – Elevate Your System to New Heights

The PoE switch is one of the most significant innovations in PoE networking to deliver power and data safely and efficiently to devices like IP cameras, NVR recorders, etc., which greatly simplifies your network deployment in hard-to-reach places. So you don’t need to worry if there are enough power adapters nearby. It provides centralized power management for all cameras. Since the power to all IP cameras is delivered from a single power source, continued surveillance is guaranteed and the network is uptime preserved. The PoE switch can connect multiple cameras to the NVR for video recording, and it also helps a lot in problem diagnosis and troubleshooting. It features a fast and user-friendly installation that can be easily managed by average families and small and medium-sized businesses.

Why Use PoE Switches for IP Camera Systems?

Here, we have listed three main reasons why PoE switches should be considered mandatory for IP camera surveillance and other mission-critical applications.

Intelligent and centralized management

Adopting PoE switches for IP surveillance to deliver both power and data to the remote cameras is a cost-effective and time-saving solution. By using the PoE switch, you can The LED indicators on the PoE switch can display the operational status of each IP camera in real-time. For example, if an IP camera goes offline, the PoE switch can immediately alert the administrator, who will assign another camera to cover the area. In addition, the PoE switch can detect how much power is required by the camera and provide the right amount of power to that load to ensure optimal power distribution.

Greater flexibility for camera placement

In most cases, you will need to install security cameras in different strategic locations for full coverage of your property. Unlike the traditional cabling over coax, where there are fewer options for locating cameras because each camera must be tethered to the nearest power source, PoE cameras can be placed anywhere they can reach via Ethernet cabling, giving you more control over where to place your cameras. And you can scale your system faster. Also, if a camera needs to be taken down or moved to a new location, you can simply move the cable without taking other cameras or devices offline to ensure continuous recording.

Quick troubleshooting and remote monitoring

Some PoE switches can also provide advanced features like auto-recovery to allow you to monitor the real-time status of your cameras remotely. When the communication fails, the corresponding PoE port will automatically detect and reboot any frozen, non-responding IP camera, and restore network communication by itself, without having to send a technician out to the camera’s location and checking the IP cameras one by one on-site. In addition, this process can even be scheduled to occur at pre-determined intervals to ensure the optimal operational status of your cameras, which not only helps you reduce operating costs but also the complexity of day-to-day management of your IP camera system.

How to Choose the Right PoE Switch for IP Camera Systems?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a suitable PoE switch for your IP camera system:

1) Port Number

When choosing a PoE switch, it is a good idea to consider in advance how many IP cameras should be installed. In general, the number of ports of a PoE switch largely depends on the number of connected devices and the total power consumption, and based on this, the number can vary from 4 to 64, so all you need to do is to choose a PoE switch with sufficient ports. An 8-port or 16-port PoE switch is normally enough for everyday use, but the larger the network is, the greater number of Ethernet ports you’ll need. Depending on the number of cameras you want to add to your network, you can choose the right PoE switch that meets your needs, but it’s always recommended to choose one with more ports than you actually need to scale the system easily for future expansions. And it is worth mentioning that not all connected devices in your network need a power supply. For example, you don’t need to power the PC, so you can choose a PoE switch with both PoE ports and non-PoE ports if you have both PoE and non-PoE devices on your network.

2) Power Budget

Another important factor to consider is the power budget of a PoE switch. The greater the total wattage that can be supplied by a PoE switch, the more IP cameras can be connected. The power budget directly affects how much power each port can deliver to the connected device. If the total power consumption of your cameras exceeds your switch’s power cap, then the PoE switch won’t provide enough power for all your PoE cameras. And especially when you’re installing power-hungry devices like speed-dome infrared PTZ cameras, more power will be consumed. A PTZ camera normally consumes 30 watts of power for camera operation only, and a separate power source is usually required to power the external heater or blower of the PTZ camera to make it function properly in extreme environments. Therefore, it’s important to understand the power consumption of each PoE camera and provide the proper amount of power to that load.

Maximal Power Supply of a PoE Switch

The total power budget of a PoE switch can vary by manufacturer, but the amount of power that can be forwarded per port is usually pre-determined. PoE can support a maximum power supply of 15.4W at the PSE with the minimum power guaranteed at the PD being 12.95W. However, the IEEE802.3at-compliant PSE can deliver up to 30W on a per-port basis, and the power available at the PD can still remain at 25.5W after 100 meters’ transmission, which is normally enough for powering most types of IP cameras. Moreover, to satisfy the growing power requirements of today’s high-power PTZ cameras, a new-generation PoE standard was finally ratified in 2018 and two new PoE types (PoE+ and Hi-PoE) were developed. It’s the first-generation PoE that implements power over all four twisted pairs of the Ethernet cable and offers the highest power capabilities of all PoE types currently in existence. With PoE+, PSE can provide up to 60W at each port to power each PD with 51W max., while the high-power PoE or Hi-PoE can supply maximum power output of 90W at the PSE and the power available at the PDs is 71.3W using the Cat6e cables.

Rapid Network Expansion with PoE++ Capabilities

Fastcabling has launched an 8-port PoE powered switch that delivers a compact, cost-effective solution for unmanaged network expansion for your IP camera system. The biggest advantage of this PoE switch is that it can accept power from another PSE and require no additional power cabling on the installation site. It is built with 7*10/100/1000Mbps PoE ports and one Gigabit PoE passthrough port. Compliant with IEEE802.3af/at/bt standards, it features a massive power budget of 71W and is able to power different types of IP cameras at once. 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 and can be installed in dusty spaces like ceilings and basements.

3) Bandwidth Capacity

There are different types of PoE switches available in terms of bandwidth capacity – the maximum speed that can be reached. Fast Ethernet PoE switches can give you 10 to 100 Mbps of bandwidth, while Gigabit PoE switches would allow for 1 Gbps, allowing you to install better quality cameras in your system. The average bandwidth consumption of an IP camera is merely 4-5 Mbps, and most IP cameras, even the high-resolution ones, use less than 100Mbps of bandwidth, so a Fast Ethernet PoE switch will suffice the job, but streaming a 2K or 4K camera on YouTube will consume more bandwidth. Additionally, bandwidth usage may vary based on video compression, image quality, video resolution, frame rate per second (FPS), chroma subsampling, number of security cameras, viewing clients, etc. For example, for 4-8 channel IP camera networking with ultra-high-definition 4K, or even 8K video, you must choose a pure Gigabit PoE switch.

4) Unmanaged vs Managed

In determining the best PoE switch for your surveillance goals, it’s critical to consider whether it’s manageable. PoE switches can be divided into managed or unmanaged switches depending on their configurability. The unmanaged PoE switch is a relatively simple plug-and-play device that can’t be modified or managed. The unmanaged switches are normally manufactured with a fixed configuration and with merely no security features. It’s an affordable option for users with limited budgets and for applications where only several cameras need to be installed. However, the managed network switch is a fully-configurable device that is used to manage, monitor and configure the traffic of the LAN. It offers full management capabilities and high-level security features that allow you to prioritize and monitor the traffic coming out of each PoE port and facilitate troubleshooting. It allows the administrators to create new VLANs on the hub to separate the camera network from your main network. But since it’s an enterprise-level switch, professional installation is required.

Optimized Network Traffic

The managed switch helps to prioritize the traffic flow of each network port. It helps you control the traffic of each PoE port to ensure the optimal performance of each camera. For example, the average bandwidth consumption of a fixed camera is merely 4Mpbs (2MP streaming with H.264), while a 4K quality camera will require at least 15Mbps even when streaming with H.265. By using a managed switch, you can easily configure the fixed cameras to low priority so the high-quality cameras can get enough bandwidth to function properly.

More Advanced Features

The managed PoE switch can provide lots of smart services like network monitoring and problem diagnosis to allow you to speed up troubleshooting. Additionally, you can configure the PoE switch to automatically control the supply of power to each port on a timed basis, which is useful for routine camera reboots or to limit surveillance to certain times of the day and week. Moreover, unmanaged PoE switches only provide basic security features but managed switches can only provide access to trusted devices to prevent unauthorized access and block unknown devices. With the 802.1X Port-Based Network Access Control (PNAC), the user can set up the level to access the switch.

Simplify Network Management with 8-Port Visual PoE Managed Switch

This PoE managed switch can supply a maximum power of 60W on ports#1-4 (30W max. on ports#5-8). It also comes with two Gigabit SFP slots to deliver a fast-speed, low-latency network connection in long-distance applications. Equipped with 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 the enhanced bandwidth management helps a lot in improving user experience and ensuring faster response time, which is particularly useful for enterprise networks.

5) Commercial vs Industrial

Given the different setup requirements in different scenarios, the PoE switches can be further categorized into commercial and industrial-grade PoE switches. The commercial switch has a low tolerance for harsh environments since they are developed for applications in well-controlled settings like offices and campuses. On the other hand, the industrial PoE switch has a natural resistance to vibration, electrical noise, fluctuations in temperature and exposure to chemicals or combustible environments, which makes it an ideal option for uses in factory automation, oil and mining, public transportation projects like intersection traffic monitoring, etc. And normally, the industrial PoE switch uses a fan-less enclosure for heat dissipation, while the commercial one is usually fan-distributed.

Overcome Harsh Conditions with 4-Port Industrial PoE+ Switch with SFP

This industrial PoE+ switch provides Ethernet connectivity with PoE functions for harsh industrial applications, like security camera surveillance and factory automation. It features four Gigabit Ethernet ports that support IEEE802.3at for a maximum supply of 30W per port and two Gigabit-speed SFP ports to deliver high-performance network connections over long distances. The industrial is housed in a rugged metal case and is both DIN-rail and wall mountable, supporting industrial standard temperatures range from -40°C to 75°C. It accepts dual power inputs and is equipped with an intelligent PD live check (PoE watchdog function) to consistently reboot the cameras when they stop working.

How to Install IP Cameras with a PoE Switch

The camera system only needs a few things to get up and running: IP cameras, a PoE switch, an NVR, a monitor and Ethernet cables. Here are the specific steps to set up the IP cameras:

• Connect the router to the uplink port on the PoE switch using an Ethernet cable;

• Plug the PoE switch into a nearby AC outlet with a power cord;

• Connect the IP cameras to the PoE ports on the PoE switch with Cat5e/6 cables;

• Connect the router to the NVR and add the cameras to the NVR using the mobile app;

• Connect the NVR to a monitor using a VGA or HDMI cable to watch video footage or you can connect your NVR to the Internet for remote viewing.

How to Choose Ethernet Cables for IP Cameras?

Security cameras with different resolutions have different bandwidth requirements. Cameras that feature higher resolution generally require more bandwidth. Currently, two types of cabling are widely used for IP security cameras which are Cat5e and Cat6 cables. The speed of Cat5e is up to 1000Mbps, ten times faster than the older-standard Cat5 cable. Besides, it greatly decreases crosstalk, which makes it the most widely used category on the market. On the other hand, the Cat6 cable is certified to handle 10 Gigabit Ethernet with a bandwidth of 250MHz. And it features better insulation and thinner wire, making it suitable for high EMI environments. But it should be noted that after 165 feet, the Cat6 cable is only capable of supporting 1000Mbps of bandwidth, the same as the Cat5e cable. As previously mentioned, most IP cameras use less than 100Mbps, which makes the Cat5e cable a more valid choice.

How to Install the IP Cameras over Long Distances?

Although PoE provides a budget-friendly way to deliver power and data to the IP cameras on the same network cabling, a common challenge when installing a security camera system is the transmission limit of Ethernet cabling (100 meters). To overcome the geographic limit of standard PoE, the simplest way is to install a pair of 300-meter direct-burial PoE extenders (IP67). By daisy-chaining these products, the maximum distance between the PoE switch and the camera can reach 500 meters by connecting the inputs of both extenders together (the maximum distance between two extenders can reach 300 meters). And because these PoE extenders are built with PoE passthrough capabilities, they can directly receive the power from the upstream PSE.

Last Thought: Is Fiber Necessary for IP Camera Systems?

It depends largely on your installation purposes. If network speed is your top priority, then fiber is the way to go. It is 100 times faster than the Ethernet cable and immune to electromagnetic interference. The fiber optic cable is often used when the distance between the PoE switch and the IP camera is beyond 500 meters, but it would be much more expensive and bulkier if you use it for nearby cameras. And there are mainly two types of fiber cabling: single-mode and multi-mode fibers. The single-mode fiber optic cable is used for long distances of more than 550 meters and up to several kilometers, while the multi-mode fiber optic cable is suitable for distances of 550 meters. But the main downside to the fiber cabling is that it doesn’t carry electricity, which means you have to connect a new cable to the camera to get power.

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