Converge PoE Part 2: Technical Knowledge

Part 2: PoE Technical Knowledge Q & A

March 17, 2020


At the 2019 BICSI Fall Conference, Igor’s Director of Business Development, Matt Conger, joined Tyler and Maria from PoE Texas on the Converge PoE Live Stream to continue the conversation about PoE technology and Igor’s platform, Nexos. We gathered all the technical questions and answers from the show and added some additional context that we did not have time to touch on while live! 

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Is PoE replacing all lights or complementing existing lighting? Are there any situations where you found that you can’t operate PoE lighting because the general answer I would say is I’ve seen it everywhere with all sorts of PoE powered LED lights. So, where and what are the limitations?

[Matt] We can go into existing environments, and they may already have line voltage fixtures everywhere, but they don’t have the budget to deploy every single fixture in the building, so why not go in and use PoE lighting to do the beacon lights, or indication lights, or use Igor to do other things beyond lighting. 

For example, Mobile County Public School System was a retrofit, the school is from the 1950s but we were able to go in and deploy a complete system but not replace every single fixture in the building. But as far as can we replace every single item, can we support all kinds of LED lighting? Absolutely. 

I would say the limitation that I think about is one, typically we don’t tackle parking lots because they have a significant distance with pole mounted fixtures and they also have high wattages so sometimes you are looking 200-300 watts and in some instances I’ve seen them up to 500 for certain lights with 25-30 foot mounting heights. For those, what we will do there is we will either connect those fixtures wirelessly and do an API integration or we will talk to a relay panel and communicate with it to drive fixtures. 

The other places I can think of where you might run into challenge, and I’ll use a school again, is the gymnasium for example. You might have 600 light fixtures on a project and 48 of them are high-bay fixtures and they consume say… 120 watts per fixture. That’s a little bit above what PoE makes sense for but you can run two home runs per fixture, not quite cost-effective, but it would allow you to put everything on the PoE infrastructure of you can strictly limit the deployment like you would traditionally with a relay and then we can dive that relay.

[Tyler] So, the high bay, super-powerful lighting, those are the one areas but in terms of architectural selection, in terms of functionality for everything other than if its high bay or parking lot lighting, it can go PoE.

[Matt] Yes, so we have done a number of decorative jobs, both ourselves and our peers in this industry have done all kinds of decorative projects so we just completed one in Pasadena specified by a very good architect and really beautiful, unique, one-of-a kind fixtures, – everything from track, sconces, vanity – PoE-powered. It’s a really beautiful and I can’t wait to share some pictures.

What if I have regular screw in light bulb type light fixture, and I guess you call it Edison and I think you have a video about it. Can certain types of LED light bulb that can go into a traditional light fixture be Igor and PoE-powered and controlled?

[Matt] You can take an Edison-based socket and screw in a 12- or 24-volt DC LED lamp or bulb, whatever you prefer to call it, and then now it is an intelligent PoE endpoint. This video is of testing in our laboratory in which we’re showing a variety of bulb and LED lamps, everything from your aesthetic filament style to your fully luminous bulbs, just to show variety of what you could do with a screw-in light source. A lot of times when you are doing those very high-end decorative fixtures, a lot of times, it isn’t available with Edison based socket and so it’s just as easy to find another lamp and connect them to an Igor Node and then you are in business.

How does the new 2020 NEC section 716 B which requires all devices in the emergency control system to be listed for use in emergency systems affect Igor?

[Matt] We are UL924 listed as an emergency lighting system. So during the event of a loss of power, your lighting comes up to the 1 foot handle requirement for the ninety minutes period of time and then that is listed with UL as beign NEC and NFPA compliant. 

[Added by Igor] UL’s stance on the matter states so long as a component doesn’t change its behavior between normal and emergency, then it doesn’t need to be rated as UL924.  They have directly stated that the network switch does not need UL924 listing. However, at some point in time, they may extend UL924 certification to network switches primarily to address market confusion around this topic.

We had some people from the UK and other countries asking about it. In your experience, does that UL apply and work outside of the US as well?

[Matt] UL is a North American-centric thing, and I have not spent enough time in Europe and the rest of the world to say much more. Over there you might be more of a CE rating. I just haven’t spent enough time in that market to comment.

[Tyler]  We spend a lot of time talking about CE, a self-declared system and so it’s an interesting one because a lot of people think UL is a better standard. It’s a more rigid standard because it is an outside independent body. CE is something you can just self-play.

[Added by Igor] UL is a very rigorous process of UL labs’ testing to their certification standards.  If anyone certification requirement is not met, then the certification is withheld until corrected and retested.  Also, factories that produce UL marked products are audited twice a year, and a sample of the product is inspected to ensure it does not deviate from the certified design.  I can say from experience, that they are very strict on any change no matter how subtle.

CE is a self-certification based on trusting self-generated reports.  As such, CE unfairly rewards those who bend the rules in an effort to get to market quickly and with less cost.  There is no regulating body that audits or enforces CE products meet their self-certified performance specifications.

Also, UL LISTED products have been comprehensively tested and verified directly by UL.  UL Recognized is less meaningful, easier to get, and only requires limited testing.

802.3bt (100W version) was ratified a year ago. Any manufacturers coming out with 100W PoE switches?

[Tyler] Yes, PoE Texas is showing our 802.3bt switch, it is doing 80W, it is not doing 100W. I talked to some guys at Cisco, and Cisco has their 90W which is coming out. 

[Matt] Actually, we have the first Cisco 90W installation in the country deployed up in the northeast right now. 

[Tyler] Cisco has it, we are in the hunt. We should do a follow-up because there are some intricacies associated with 802.3bt, in the sense of being backward compatible to pre-standard PoE devices, such as the Cisco CDB product which wouldn’t necessarily be compatible with the newest part of the standard, but part of the new 802.3bt standard allows for backward compatibility. That is something you need to know, just because you have an 802.3bt product, the other devices shouldn’t go invalid now because of the new standard. 

Have you guys seen any vaping or smoking detectors integrated in the lights or is that a separate sensor?

[Matt] Today, the deployments I have seen where the vaping sensors is part of the digital infrastructure, but it doesn’t always necessarily live in the lights. The holy grail would be to build a super sensor that does everything and that’s where the world is moving towards, just like the phone brought all these objects together and changed the way we live and all that became a single piece of hardware. In time, we will see this come together inside light fixtures or attached to or within Igor nodes. But yeah, we are definitely seeing vaping sensors today.


Did you miss Igor on the latest Converge PoE Live Stream? 

Watch Here