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Proljik - Top five benefits of Power over Ethernet lighting

Top five benefits of Power over Ethernet lighting

Blog: Top five benefits of PoE lighting and why Prolojik is taking a different approach

Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting, in which a lighting system is powered by Ethernet rather than mains electrical cabling, is a growing trend that many contractors and engineers are embracing in order to save energy and resources. But did you know that not all PoE lighting works the same way?

Of the few PoE lighting systems currently available on the UK market, most are an extension of a building’s IT infrastructure. This type of system – let’s call it ‘conventional’ PoE – works by assigning an individual IP address to each luminaire, creating hundreds or thousands of new points on the network. Data and power loads of up to around 30W are both carried via Cat 5 or Cat 6 cables.

Our Power over Ethernet lighting system, Lightmatrix, takes a different approach by using the Ethernet cables for power up to 60W, but also incorporating the lighting standard DALI protocol within the network cabling. We are currently the only UK manufacturer using this type of system.

Top five benefits of PoE lighting

We should start by saying that the main benefits of PoE are shared in both approaches.

  1. Compared to mains-wired systems, installation costs of PoE systems can be dramatically reduced, partly because of a reduction in the amount of expensive copper wiring required.
  2. The ‘plug and play’ nature of data cabling requires minimal input from specialist electrical contractors, another area in which costs can be reduced. Our figures suggest cost savings of up to 30% are possible in a typical commercial building, compared to mains wired systems.
  3. It can save space too, with a minimal need for large distribution boards within confined riser cupboards and less vertical infrastructure within the ceiling void, as the majority of traditional final circuit and associated containment are not required.
  4. There are also significant energy savings, derived largely from the intelligent power distribution. Power is only applied to the cable once the device has confirmed its power requirements, which ensures the correct amount is supplied. This significantly reduces power loss in cables and heat gain in containment, requiring less cooling. Lightmatrix has delivered savings of up to 11% compared to a 240v LED system and 46% compared to a T5 fluorescent scheme where it has been installed. It uses Lightmatrix LED drivers, which deliver driver losses of 3% compared to 10%-13% for 240V LED drivers.
  5. Most PoE systems can be operated, maintained and managed by online software platforms, providing easy-to-use, wireless system management.


So why is Prolojik doing things differently?

Conventional PoE takes an IT-led approach, integrating lighting into the communication domain. Each luminaire has its own IP address, and whilst the rich networking potential for this type of system is undoubtedly exciting as we move further into a world managed by the IoT, there are also potential drawbacks including security risk. For a large building, having quite literally thousands of extra IP addresses means greater risk of security breach. The system architecture can become unwieldy and could be difficult to control and maintain.

Our approach takes the starting point as the environment of the building (lighting playing a huge part in that) and, whilst seeking to harness the benefits of PoE we look to keep lighting in the M&E domain. Combining PoE with established DALI standards means that luminaires do not have IP addresses and their associated security risks. Another bonus is that existing DALI systems can be upgraded to reap the benefits of PoE, using much of the existing equipment. It also means that lighting remains in the facilities management side of the corporate structure rather than switching it to the IT team.

For our clients, a system developed by a company with decades of experience in lighting control, harvesting the best of both solutions provides both the energy and cost saving benefits without the wholesale changes and extra security risks. However, for others the huge networking potential of the conventional approach is appealing, particularly if the IT systems and team are well set up to manage the extra responsibility for the company’s lighting and energy management. It’s definitely not a one-size fits all scenario.

Want to learn more about the different types of PoE and whether it could be the right lighting technology for your project? Talk to our experts today.