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Infrastructure

Infrastructure Test: Dycon Power D1816 PoE Midspan

The benefits of PoE are well documented, and for a growing number of installers and integrators, the technology has become an essential part of designing flexible and credible security solutions. Dycon Power Solutions offers the D1800 series of PoE midspans which have been specifically designed for use in security applications.

dycon1816_ratingPower over Ethernet is increasingly beneficial in security applications. The technology has its roots in the IT sector, but it is increasingly common to see the technology cropping up in network cameras, video codecs, access control readers and a wide range of security peripherals.

PoE is predominantly used for edge devices, although it is increasingly being found across all elements of security systems. Indeed, some installers and integrators are only looking to design solutions that utilise PoE, such are the benefits and cost-savings that it offers.

There are two main ‘flavours’ when it comes to PoE, with low power (15.4W) and PoE+ (30W+). These are covered by compliance to the IEEE 802.3af and IEEE 802.3at standards. PoE works by using spare pairs in network cabling, allowing one cable to carry network data and power to a device.

Essentially, the main benefit of PoE is one of cost savings. Devices at the edge (i.e., remote from the control room or main system) usually require the installation of a fused spur, which in turn is connected to a power supply unit to regulate the voltage. The use of PoE can eliminate the cost of both the fused spur and the PSU.

Where devices are used on a temporary basis, this also allows for the relocation of a device at any time, as the power requirements are dealt with via the network cable. With traditional PSUs, relocating devices to deal with evolving threats typically involves adding a fused spur at the new location of the edge device and relocating a PSU, as well as running a new cable for connectivity. With PoE, the new cable for connectivity is all that is required.

PoE doesn’t have to be used with PoE compatible units. There is an opportunity to use splitters at the remote end, taking the power back from the network cable and feeding it to conventionally powered devices if their consumption needs are appropriate.

PoE can certainly offer cost savings, and in most applications it will be suitable for security use. It relies on a physical connection between the midspan and the device, via the unused pairs in the cable, so is effectively hard-wired. It is also not reliant on the network to supply power. Those who distrust PoE usually do so because they do not understand these two simple points!

One thing to remember with PoE is that the cables use modular plugs, so installers and integrators must ensure that midspans should not be located in unsecure areas; the same is true of switches in the system topology.

Specification

The D1800 series of PoE midspans and produced by Dycon Power Solutions. The midspans are available in 4, 8, 12 and 16 port versions. The Benchmark test unit was the D1816 featuring 16 ports.

The unit is IEEE 802.3af and IEEE 802.3at compliant. Designed to be rack mounted, the midspan featuress an integral power supply and uses a simple mains input. Aside from power input and the power switch, the only connections are for the network cable inputs and outputs.

The unit delivers up to 30W per port, with simultaneous power delivered across all ports. This ensures that the power budget is consistent regardless of whether higher power devices are used.

The D1800 series features individual power supplies for each set of four ports. The D1816 has four discrete power supplies, with each managing a block of connections (1-4, 5-8, etc.). This means that should a power supply unit fail, only four of the total number of available ports will be lost.

Dycon also offers a range of traditional switch mode power supplies, and in keeping with its ethos states that the D1800 series is over 85 per cent efficient.

The midspan has status LEDs on each port. These indicate that port power is available (yellow), and that a compatible PoE powered device is connected (green).

The unit is supplied with a rack mounting kit and a very brief but sufficient manual.

The unit is a fanless design. There is a very slight buzz emitted from the unit, but it’s not invasive, and in a general working environment it is not loud enough to become a problem.

Performance

With regard to performance, the D1816 behaves as expected, and over the duration of the test provided reliable and consistent power delivery.

A number of test devices were used, including some which have shown themselves to be somewhat temperamental with lower quality PSUs in previous Benchmark tests, and all performed as specified. This was the case across a wide range of cable lengths, and included standard PoE and PoE+ devices.

There were no issues with regard to the supply, and the unit remained cool, which does give some reassurance to its efficiency.

The D1816 was also tested with a number of access control devices, along with PoE-enabled peripherals from other sectors including IT and telephony. All behaved as expected, which shouldn’t be a great surprise as PoE and PoE+ are both standards that are widely used.

The D1816 isn’t a remarkable product. It does a very simple – but incredibly vital – job: it delivers consistent and reliable power to edge devices.

Verdict

Increasingly the security market is moving towards PoE as the de facto standard for powering systems. It’s cost-effective, reliable and efficient. As such, the market offers a wide range of PoE midspans and injectors from IT companies, generic power manufacturers and a host of other suppliers. Dycon Power Solutions offers a dedicated security-centric option in the form of the D1816.

The performance of the D1816 does not disappoint. Delivery is consistent and despite deploying it with a wide range of products of various quality, all were powered correctly and with no issues. The build quality also indicates that the unit will offer longevity in the field, and for all these reasons it has to be recommended.

 

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