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It is a fact that every device needs the power to function correctly. In this regard, PoE switches provide an excellent solution to supply power to the attached equipment over an Ethernet cable. PoE switches are classified into two types; Industrial PoE switches and Commercial PoE switches. In this article, we will discuss the advantages and applications of Industrial PoE switches. It is essential to know that the Industrial PoE switches are known as “rugged” or “hardened” PoE switches.

What are Industrial PoE Switches?

In recent years we have observed a surge in demand for industrial PoE switches. Unlike commercial PoE switches, usually used in indoor and office environments, industrial PoE switches are deployed in harsh industrial conditions for process automation, control, or general communication applications. These “rugged” switches are designed to withstand the extreme operating conditions common to factories and production sites, such as; high moisture, high temperatures, low temperatures, dust, dirt, noise, etc.

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Industrial PoE Switch - Features

Availability of Multiple Standards

Industrial grade PoE switches support multiple PoE standards. Thus, these switches can operate with various power and current settings to cater to different devices used in industrial environments.

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Fast Redundancy

Industrial PoE switches utilize Ethernet Ring Protection Switching (ERPS) to provide reliable redundancy; ERPS links different networks together and can act for failover protection in <50ms. The ERPS-enabled PoE switches ensure maximum safety and reliability in the industrial sector, where even a short network downtime can cause serious operational issues.

Anti-Interference Characteristics

Industrial PoE Switches are designed for high electromagnetic environments and offer an alleviated level of waterproofing corrosion protection, lightning protection, static electricity protection, and impact protection. The anti-interference properties of these switches make them capable of operating nearby emf producing industrial equipment and cables carrying high-voltages etc.

Power Supply Redundancy

The power supply is a critical element of industrial PoE switches. According to an estimate, around 35% of equipment failures can be attributed to power failures. Moreover, the integrity of an industrial control and automation network during power outages and blackouts must remain intact for a safe and prompt shutdown of the plant. To cater to the power-failure-related issues, industrial PoE switches come equipped with redundant power supply provision. When used, this provision can ensure the unit`s operation through a standby power source whenever the regular source of power fails.

Service Life

Industrial-grade ruggedness solutions are adopted for the manufacturing of industrial PoE switches. Everything is designed for better performance in harsh industrial environments, from the enclosure to the supporting material and even ports. So, these switches are more reliable than the commercial PoE switches, and we can also expect a longer service life.

Safety Provisions

Industrial PoE switches are intelligent devices that can determine when and how much power should be dispatched through a port. The control system of the PoE switch restricts power supplies on ports where it is not required.  In industrial settings where multiple devices of various types are used, PoE switches can be very effective in catering to the varying power needs of connected loads.

Commercial Vs. Industrial PoE Switch

Principally, there is no difference between commercial and industrial PoE switches. In some cases, we can replace an industrial PoE switch with a commercial PoE switch and vice versa. However, it’s the build and construction features of industrial switches that make it different from its commercial counterparts. The following exhibit outlines a quick comparison between the two types of PoE switches;

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When Should I go with an Industrial PoE Switch?

Industrial PoE switches cost more than commercial ones. So, one should consider acquiring these switches in cases where they are required. Industrial switches are designed with much more ruggedness and with some additional features such as redundant power supplies. Whereas commercial switches cannot withstand harsh environments as these are the ones that can be used in indoor settings only.

Suppose you are looking for a PoE switch for deployment in an outdoor environment where the equipment will be subject to varying ambient conditions, dirt, moisture, electrical noise, etc. You must go with a rugged, industrial switch. Commercial PoE switches can also provide you with the desired functionality and networking, but you cannot deploy them in open, dirty, and noisy industrial environments.

Here, it is essential to mention that unmanaged industrial PoE switches come with limited functions and are considered suitable for small to medium-sized networks. At the same time, managed industrial PoE switches offer a broad range of flexible networking solutions and are widely used in the physical layer of medium to large and even small networks.

Conclusion

Both commercial and industrial PoE are absolutely identical in terms of functions. However, industrial PoE switches are designed and manufactured to be deployed in harsh industrial environments, so they are manufactured with superior grade materials. Commercial PoE switches are designed for indoor use only, and they are ones that cannot withstand the harsh industrial atmosphere.