What is POE?

POE, power over ethernet, is not new but it is seeing a growth like few other areas in production. The expansion of IP protocols in video production has caused the expansion of POE products and capabilities. 

POE describes the ability to power, and often control, a device via an ethernet cable. Why is that important? Like mentioned earlier, IP workflows are becoming the norm in professional realms so network switches are commonplace in control rooms which allows for a variety of tools that were not possible before.

Let’s use a PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) camera for example. A PTZ cameras doesn’t use manual “touch” controls like traditional cameras. The framing of the show is done remotely via a control device of some sort. Prior to POE, running a PTZ camera would require at least three cables – power, control, and signal. Now with a single ethernet cable, you can not only power the camera but also control the camera remotely and receive video signals. With a powerful enough switch, you can connect several devices simultaneously and only have to send one cable to each. 

As POE has grown, several varieties of POE have been developed. POE provides up to 15 watts of power while POE+ can provide up to 25.5 watts and currently POE++ provides the most power at 60 watts per channel. Just as you would with traditional electrical setups, you have to plan for the right amount of power based on your needs and buy your switches accordingly. 

Ikan has been on the forefront of POE tools including the Lyra POE lights. These ultra compact lights have a streamlined yoke so they can be mounted from an 8’ ceiling with not concern for remaining height in the room. Use POE lights allow for other things that have not previously been possible. A lighting grid no longer has to have power distributed across the room. Each light can be run straight to the POE switch therefore if you need to run cables over a drop ceiling, it’s not a problem as there is no power above the grid. Also, again, you don’t have to run multiple cables to each light (power, control) it’s all covered with one cable. 

In the near future, we expect to see POE used in teleprompters to send not only power but also video signals further reducing the cable runs needed for each studio. 

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