Editorials

PoE Lighting and its Role in the future of IoT

In January and February of each year companies announce new product offerings. Just this month, Philip Lighting reported that the company deployed its first Power Over Ethernet lighting system in a commercial office. (Ref. Coverage). The system utilizes PoE switches from Cisco. Despite being a pioneer in things IoT, Philips Lighting is not the first to offer PoE connected LED lighting.

In fact, it was about two years ago in February that Cree introduced its PoE connected lighting solutions. (Ref. Coverage). The Cree PoE lighting system also uses Cisco PoE switches.

Some other companies have come along since that time in offering PoE connected lighting systems.

Luxeon High Power

While Power-Over-Ethernet Lighting has not caught on as fast many in the industry have wanted, it still holds significant potential for IoT connected lighting as more and more devices connect to WiFi and eventually to 5G WiFi. Many futurists have speculated that WiFi and even 5G WiFi have somewhat limited bandwidth that the expected population boom in IoT devices will begin taxing. PoE is one surefire way to overcome this limitation.

For offices that already have Ethernet cabling, PoE connected lighting is one way of adding connected lighting without additional work with the mains power. It also does not slow or limit WiFi usage in the places it is used. Bandwidth limitations of traditional Wi-Fi are already significant in many settings such as airports, hotels, conferences, etc. PoE connected lighting will not add to this bandwidth burden.

I envision PoE lighting as an option for places where conventional WiFi is already at its limits. PoE lighting can also serve in areas in hospitals where WiFi and smartphone use is not allowed. I can imagine that PoE lighting could also serve where WiFi-connected lighting is not secure enough such as military installations.

Back in spring of 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a report about the limitations of PoE lighting. (Ref. Coverage).

One of the primary conclusions of the report was that such systems, as of the writing of the report provide little detail about when, where, and how, energy usage is reported. The report explained that while the industry could attempt to devise a standard for such reporting PoE meta information, it would be difficult because of the broad range of possible configurations of systems. While it has been almost a year since that DoE report came out, I am not aware of the industry making significant headway in devising PoE metadata reporting standards.

As PoE lighting gets adopted more, I expect the industry to put more into standardizing PoE metadata reporting. .

PoE lighting is in its infancy, as are PoE devices in general. I expect both PoE lighting and other PoE devices to greatly expand in their adoption for IoT implementation over the next decade.

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