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EVs Hit a Rough Patch

Jan. 29, 2024


Jim Lucy Chief Editor

Times & Trends: PoE: The Next Game Changer to Watch?

Jan. 9, 2017
Power over Ethernet cabling is the real deal, and it’s revolutionizing the lighting industry.

As Executive Editor Doug Chandler and I got to talking about the Top News Stories of 2016 feature we would be writing for this issue, we agreed the two trends that made the biggest impressions on us were the rapid changes that took root this year in the lighting and industrial software markets. We offered our thoughts on these trends in this article on page 12.

Lots has happened in lighting over the past 12 months that made it an easy selection, including all the M&A activity and the steady march of LEDs into virtually all lighting applications. These trends are in and of themselves quite impressive and they get all sorts of ink on how they will change the lighting industry for years to come.

But to me, a sometimes overlooked trend with truly game-changing potential is the growing acceptance of PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) cabling, which is quickly changing how lighting systems are wired in many new buildings and retrofits. It’s not too often that a new product technology comes into the electrical market with the proven potential to reduce the total installed cost of a system by up to 20%.

I was familiar with PoE for a few years, but its potential  never truly sunk in until I toured the Eaton booth at Lightfair this year in San Diego and learned about how the company’s Distributed Low Voltage Power (DLVP) lighting system can produce those 20% savings. That’s a huge chunk of change on any jobsite. The DLVP system utilizes a technology similar to PoE and is based on the same Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) and National Electric Code (NEC) requirements for Class 2 low voltage systems. Driving home the point on the revolutionary nature of this technology at Eaton’s Lightfair booth were several plexiglass container walls loaded with the conduit, flexible cable whips and related wiring products that the Eaton DLVP system replaced.

Along with these installation benefits, PoE helps integrate lighting other control systems in a building; helps building owners maximize their investment in their facilities; and offers building occupants the ability to customize the color temperature of the light. And since PoE ties together the power for the lighting systems to a building’s IT system, building managers or owners can take the usage data they collect from IoT-enabled LED fixtures to gain additional leverage during  discussions with utilities or other energy entities on their energy bills and plans to shed loads at predetermined times.

Another fascinating element of PoE is that it’s also the key bridge from the lighting world to the IT world, where Cisco and other companies now see lighting as part of their domain. I recently discovered a Silicon Valley-based lighting company by the name of Platformatics that partners with Cisco on its Digital Ceiling initiative and markets itself as a provider of intelligent lighting.

In an online document entitled “Why Power over Ethernet is the Future of Commercial Lighting Infrastructure,” Platformatics offered more than 20 reasons why it was a believer in LEDs and PoE, and offered a few mind-bending advantages I hadn’t thought of yet:

“With color beacons, PoE LED networks will spawn the ‘applification’ of lighting. Innovators can create new applications that use light to communicate information.”

“By moving to LEDs and PoE, it’s possible to use small-scale on-site renewable energy systems to power lights.”

“PoE and LEDs will enable fixture manufacturers to reimagine how we use lights. Expect a lot of physical form factor innovation.”

I also liked Platformatics’ marketing message on the importance of lighting in the IT industry:  “PoE Connected Lighting will energize the IT industry. It’s exciting! It’s got bling! It will make IT visible!”

Truer words were never said. Here’s to a prosperous and interesting 2017 for your companies and business associates.

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

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