Is There a Power Revolution on the Horizon?
An upcoming BICSI-accredited Expert Webinar (register here) by Siemon got me to thinking about power. How far can we take Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Power over HDBaseT (PoH)?
It’s hard to imagine a home or office without AC outlets lining the walls. However, as our technology becomes more energy efficient, delivering power will become an increasingly fertile ground for innovation. There are plenty of examples of infrastructure from a bygone era.
Consider the standard telephone jack and incandescent light bulb. Soon they will be relegated to a place in time along with gas-piped lighting and knob-and-tube electricity. Sure, AC outlets are a long way from extinction. Toasters, fridges, vacuums, ceiling fans, and most anything motorized or heated will continue to need more power than a UTP cable could deliver…for now. However, we already have lighting, cameras, wireless access points, access controls and VoIP phones that are operating on a single, wired infrastructure. You can even power and transmit signal to a 60” HDTV via PoH.
As you scan your desk, what do you see that cannot be powered by low voltage? Your computer may be plugged into the wall, but it is converting the power to usable, low-voltage DC before actually using the electricity. Furthermore, all those mobile gadgets can charge from your computer or a simple change to the power adapter. You may need to replace a few items and buy some adaptors, but this isn’t difficult to imagine.
A change of this nature is a big deal, but it’s a change that may have enough payback to consider. Fewer AC/DC conversions result in less energy loss to heat. Fewer high-voltage lines run through a home or office reduces the risk of fire and electrocution. Single infrastructure to power and control electronics increases the viability of smart facilities while reducing the overall cost.
We may be a long way off from pulling the red and black out of our outlets to replace with category cable, but we may only be a few innovations away from a revolution in thought and practice.