PoE-er... Getting to Know Power over Ethernet
Power over Ethernet is an easy and convenient way to provide both power and network connectivity to products that support it, and can greatly simplify live event production setup.
What is PoE?
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a standard created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) designed to send low-voltage electricity over ethernet cables to power devices. This is very common in the Voice over IP (VoIP) world, enabling a telephone to simply be plugged into a computer network, power up, and receive dial tone. However, there are many applications for PoE beyond VoIP, and Blackmagic Design has built it into a number of their products to help simplify some setup and and power distribution in a variety of use-case scenarios.
Flavors of PoE and Why it Matters
There are two standards for Power over Ethernet as defined by the IEEE: 802.1af and 802.1at. These are more commonly referred to as PoE and PoE+, respectively. While the two standards are largely the same, there is one critically important difference between the two: how much power they can transmit. PoE+ is designed to deliver up to 30 watts of power over a standard Cat5 cable, while PoE is only designed to deliver up to 15.4 watts.
This power differential is very important, because Blackmagic Design devices all require the higher wattage 802.1at standard, or PoE+, in order to be powered via an ethernet connection.
What you Need
Implementing a PoE+ based solution for your Blackmagic devices, or any devices for that matter, is very straight forward. You only need two things:
- PoE+ Ethernet switch
- Cat5 (or better) ethernet cabling
PoE and PoE+ switches are manufactured by a variety of different networking hardware companies, including Ubiquiti, NetGear, Cisco, Lynksys, TP-Link, D-Link, and many others. When purchasing a PoE+ switch, there are two important things that you'll need to pay close attention to:
- how many ports on the switch provide PoE+ power?
- how much total power can the switch provide over PoE+?
PoE+ switches come in a variety of configurations, some of which limit the number of ports that provide PoE+ power. Make sure that you get a switch that will provide power over enough ports to meet your setup requirements. Or, just purchase a switch that provides PoE+ on all ports, and then you don't have to worry about it.
Additionally, PoE+ switches come in a variety of configurations that support different total wattage. For example, Ubiquiti Networks has a UniFi 8-port ethernet switch that provides a total of 60 watts of power and second UniFi 8-port switch that provides 150 watts of power. Blackmagic Devices generally require between 16w and 20w of power, depending on the device, so with a 60w switch, you could only power up to three Blackmagic devices, whereas with a 150w PoE+ switch, you could power seven.
In our infrastructure, we primarily use PoE+ switches from Ubiquiti Networks as well as some Netgear PoE+ equipment. We have found both to be reliable and suitable for all of our production purposes, and with the Ubiquiti products in particular, they provide a wide range of affordable, high-quality IP networking products with great platform-agnostic web-based management tools.
Blackmagic Design Products that Support PoE+ (updated August, 2019)
There are a variety of products from Blackmagic Design that support PoE+. A current list of these products is provided below, as well as their wattage requirements.
1. Can I plug a laptop or other computer into the PoE+ switch and run the ATEM Software Control panel (or other Blackmagic Software) to control my ATEM switch?
Yes, indeed. You can use the same PoE+ switch to run the control network for your Blackmagic Design hardware while providing power to those devices that need it.
2. Can I plug more than one Blackmagic PoE+ device into the same switch?
Yes. You can plug in as many Blackmagic PoE+ devices into an ethernet switch as you like. However, you need to make sure, if you're powering them off of PoE+, that the total amount of power consumed by all the Blackmagic devices does not exceed to total supported PoE+ wattage of the device.
3. My Blackmagic device has a power supply to connect to a regular wall outlet as well as PoE+. Can I plug them both in, and which port will it draw power from?
Yes, you can plug your Blackmagic device directly into a traditional power outlet while at the same time plugging it in to a PoE+ switch. The Blackmagic device will draw power from the wall outlet first, and the PoE+ port second. This is a great way to provide redundant power if you are concerned that one of your power sources may not be stable.
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