Electrical Contracting and Keeping Up with Technology

Wiring a new office building or retrofitting an old building today can go beyond the electrical service, lighting, and office space wiring for phones and computers. Technology is changing how buildings can be wired utilizing Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Digital Electricity.

PoE was first introduced in 2003. This technology (also referred to as Type I) allowed power sourcing equipment (PSE) to transmit up to 15.4W of power to a powered device (PD) via twisted pair cabling (Category 5e). PoE passes electric power to powered devices (PD), such as wireless access points, IP cameras, and VoIP phones in addition to the data that cable usually carries. It enables one RJ45 cable to provide both data connection and electric power to PDs instead of having a separate cable for each.

As PoE technology has developed, the amount of power that can be sent over Ethernet cable has increased. IEEE-compliant PoE switches and injectors can output anywhere from 12 watts to over 70 watts of power per port.

PoE technology offers several benefits. First, the delivery of data and power over a standard Ethernet cable eliminates the need for AC/DC power supplies and outlets to give power to PD equipment. That lowers the costs of adding or installing compatible PD equipment and is often installed by unlicensed electricians. Many state licensing requirements don’t apply.

The Sinclair Hotel in Ft. Worth, Texas was recently wired with PoE technology and claims to be the world’s first all-digital hotel, connecting everything from smart and more sustainable and efficient building operations to in-room experiences.

Digital electricity is another technology that is changing how building owners can take advantage of lower material and labor costs. One example is VoltServer, a company that has developed and is delivering to market an innovative power distribution platform based on the company’s patented Digital Electricity™ technology. VoltServer is a venture-backed technology leader reinventing how electrical energy is distributed, providing safe reliable power distribution without conduit and wire over long distances.

Contractors need to be aware of new technology like PoE to be competitive in the electrical construction industry which will continue to change the traditional way that buildings are wired.

David Hittinger has worked in the electrical industry for more than 50 years and serves on several national committees representing IEC including the NFPA National Electrical Code Correlating Committee and Code Making Panel 1, as well as the UL Electrical Council.

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