Top Questions Answered by CTO, Joe Herbst, and CEO, Tyler Andrews
There are a lot of questiosn floating around online and in conversation about PoE Lighting and Automation. Joe and I will try to answer those questions in this blog. Don’t find the answer you need? You’re always welcome to reach out to us at:
or even speak to a real person at:
Sales and Marketing
What is the largets market, in terms of commercial real estate size, for PoE Lighting and Automation?
Tyler: 90% of the real estate market are buildings and spaces less than 50,000 sq ft. Want to see where we get that infromation:
Has PoE lighting known to have been installed on any military installations?
Joe: We have one installation in a military SCIF facility (no internet no wireless allowed, Made in America)
Is there any information about residential use?
Joe: yes we have several residential sites – contact me for plans and drawings firstname.lastname@example.org. Or click on the link on the bottom of the page to schedule a meeting.
Do you have any use cases in hospital or clinical environments?
Joe: We have a assited living and Urgent care facilites that are PoE lighting control based.
Change is hard. How to leverage the need for PoE professionals for projects? Should I look for professionals with specific Certifications (besides electrician) for this job?
Joe: Agreed. We have had great success with data installers and electricians vested in staying in touch with the evolution of tech. It is less about the historical skill set and more about their intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn. We train electricians at EJATCs and have had very positive results. We have also been successful teaching lighting and controls to datacom folks.
Sales and Marketing
What is the cost per sq ft savings that I can tell my client what percentage of savings they will see in real numbers?
Joe: We typically see 30% CAPEX (total installed) savings and 30-50% OPEX (operational expenses) savings.
Was the cost savings (60%) in copper based upon comparing a single run of #14/2 vs numerous runs (how many?) of 23awg UTP?
Joe: You typically need #14/5 to support dimming and be code compliant. Line, neutral, ground, Dim+ and Dim- Relative to AWG14 2 wire that we use that is a 60% savings in material.
Tyler: The other aspect of copper savings is in the reduction of electrical runs. To wire a traditional AC system, you have to run 14/2 from the breaker panel to all the lights in series and run to any light switches you’d like to control those lights. With PoE, those “connections” are done digitally. You can make the shortest, most efficient runs from the PoE switch to the fixtures or lights. Then you simply program any given light switch to control any desired fixture.
How do you sell a POE ligthing system to a client who has an existing normal lighting system? How do you convince the client to move over to the POE system?
Joe: A conversion to PoE from an existing one is limited largely by sheetrock. If it is a substantial retrofit (down to studs) or new construction the pitch is easy. We sell rerofit kits that can get installed in the ceiling adjacent to the exisitng high voltage system and save money just on the efficiecies of LED over Fluerescent. See link for example
Tyler: Converting to a PoE managed lighting system doesn’t necessarily mean the customer has to tear out all of their existing lighting. A good PoE lighting control system can also manage non-PoE lights while looking the same for your customer. See our lighting control panels below. So invite your customer to upgrade their current lights without tearing them out and adding PoE lighting as the project/needs arise.
Is the cost savings in copper based upon comparing a single run of #14/2 vs numerous runs (how many?) of 23awg UTP?
Would PoE Lighting be suitiable for residental like houses and condos, for example how about a 2400 sq ft house?
Joe: Yes it would be suitable.
What might a cost comparison be between a traditional lighting system and a SPOG setup for something like a 10,000 sqft office building? Would there be savings over traditional copper conductors? Are NFPA 101 requirements easily met?
Joe: Please see our Midas case study. A PoE based lighting/controls system saves typically 30% on the capital side and 40-70% on the operational side. Primary savings come from: 100% less conduit (steel), 60% less copper wiring (18 AWG vs 12 AWG), and removal of AC to DC conversion at each light fixture.
It is difficult to provide a good ROI for PoE lighting for new construction, as well as retrofit. Is the PoE Consortium working on accurate cost estimate tools that include ALL the factors to build and maintain the system?
Joe: You are absolutely correct this is hard. The biggest savings (conduit and copper savings) are hard to get a good number around. I have talked to many master electricians and the best numbers I have are 250ft of conduit per junction, but I have found too much varaince in that to give you a confident number. Other factors include the reduction in panels (since the power distribution is through PoE and there is a “circuit breaker” built into each port).
What percentage of space increase in the Telecom rooms/racks are experienced by adding poe lighting?
Joe: This is a tough one to answer beyond ‘it depends’….so follow my logic. Average building has ~ 0.1-1W lighting per ft^2. so assume 1W. Each port can feed 90W – so assume each port feeds 100ft^2 for easy math. Each switch then supports ~ 2400 ft^2 – round to 2500 for convenient math. Assume 1 full rack of equipment supports 10 24 port switches ~25k ft adds one rack of equipment. Be conservative and cut that in half for quoting
Tyler: We have a detailed package we share with designers to estimate the space, rack room, and cooling they’ll need for their PoE lighting system:
Who does the design to confirm proper light levels per code?
Joe: We do design based on experience but if you want a formal lux map lighting layout we can connect you with a certified LC or engineer. We use the same IES files as a high voltage equivalent.
Tyler: We can provide a design with the IES file inputs that an architect and/or lighting designer can use to confirm the final design. If your customer doesn’t have access to someone for that and it’s a requirement for the job, we can call in partners who do this kind of thing every day for our customers.
Is Exit Lighting allowed to be PoE?
Joe: Exit lights can be powered by 24VDC. We take a PoE 24v splitter and attach all the exit sign to one of the PoE switches that has EM backup AND use exit signs that have 90 minute battery backups
Tyler: We have multiple options for achieving PoE enabled exit lighting including a range of fixtures and methods. We customize the solution to fit the job.
How many lights can be supported from one 90 watt switch port?
Joe: Typical examples are: 4 20W 2×2 panels, 3 25W 2×2 panels, 2 40W panels but no reason you can not do 10 8W fixtures or 12 5W fixtures.
Can this system also handle security, ie instead of cameras?
Joe: This system can incorporate cameras into the control of lighting or messaging. So a camera can let us know motion was detected. We then connect that to actions such as “turn on the lights and if it is after 10pm text the security guard” or the camera tells up 5 people are in a conference room – we can send a message to the HVAC to tun on ventilation.
What is the recomended CAT cable?
Joe: cat6 or better ; cat5e is also ok
Tyler: The key is selecting a CAT rated cable with 23 awg or less so you can handle the power load. Many CAT 6 cables are already 23 awg, and some manufacturers like Superior Essex and Berk-tek make a CAT 5e cable with 23 awg for PoE lighting applications.
How do you handle emergency lighting? What about potential switch failure? How do you handle emergency lighting with UL924 or UL1008?
Joe: We design two network stacks – one UPS backed or connected to EM power, the other utility power. EM fixtures can then be connected to the EM network switches and have ability to go to 100% on utility power loss using a UL924 transfer switch – contact me for drawings.
Tyler: On the switch failure question, the best contractors we know intentially spread the lighting across multiple switches, basically ensuring that no one area would be totally affected by a single switch failure. It provides overall system redundancy.
In a typical PoE installation, are the back-of-house components typically housed in telecom, or electrical rooms? Who maintains and administers, the electrical dept. or IT dept.?
Joe: I have seen them housed in either or both closets. Who maintains it is more about the politics of the organization and who holds the purse strings but ultimately we can support facility managers up to CIO’s.
Tyler: We have started encouraging building owners and facility managers to own their own PoE switches separate from the IT infrastructure. It’s called OT infrastructure. Facility managers need control of their own network hardware, and IT managers are often happy to stay out of it.
Will you homerun to each driver and patch cord to each LED?
Joe: PoE Switch to driver (LINC) via cat6, then AWG18-2 to each fixture up to 4 fixtures. LINC usually sits in cable tray close to fixtures. For small facilities, put all the LINC nodes in the closet and just run 18-2 from closet to each of the fixtures.
Is there a sigle line drawing showing how the system is wired?
Joe: yes – contact me email@example.com
Tyler: You can find wiring drawings in our designer toolkit.
What is the function of PoE in the SPOG? Do the systems to be controlled or integrated have to be PoE energized?
Joe: PoE is not a requirement. But the SPOG has to host a browser (to quickly adapt to changing information) and thus must have an ethernet or wifi connection for the data. PoE represents the dual benefit of data+power so if you have to pull wires to power a pane of glass why not bring data into the same cable and remove a lot of cost and complexity. The PoE w/r/t the system is just a backbone. Any legacy or future system can be incorporated into the data+power PoE paradigm but the “E” in PoE is where all devices have optimal connectivity given its prolific, trusted infrastructure. The “P” part essentially gets rid of wall warts and AC to DC conversion losses.
Are there provisions for ACL-type role assignment? I have diverse users with tiered levels of needed access (think: secretary, building admin, maintenance).
Joe: Using the kiosk mode you can lock it to a specific “room” which only has certain buttons. But there is no difference between a “room” and a “person” or a “role” in our paradigm. So each POG (wallstation) can be locked to a specific page and you specify what is on that page. No limit to the number of pages. The Admin has access to all the pages and the setup for each. So yes we can support as many roles/people/rooms as you want and then have one POG locked to that web page.
Does the POE powered lighting emergency specification/code match the same duration and as 277VAC emergency lighting uptime?
Joe: The PoE emergency lighting can be setup to provide whatever duration you want. Code stipulates 90 minutes but based on the number of fixtures and the size of the UPS you can exceed this. We don’t have the traditional restrictions of a fixed circuit wiring so you can add/move/remove any fixture from the emergency response system.
Is power dissipation in cable is an issue when using PoE?
Joe: The power dissipation is incorporated into the PoE specification so you don’t need to worry about it. The maximum loss on a 100m (328ft) cat 6 is 18W so a 90W source would deliver 72W worst case. In most installations this power loss is typically less than 5W.
Is intelligent passive cabling preferable to monitor ports apart from active network?
Joe: PoE is backward compliant with passive switches – it just offers the option to add power if the device (PD) on the other side negotiates to need some. If there is no negotiation then there is no power put on the line.
What is the future of SPOG based on NFPA 70 Article 726 "Class 4 Fault-Managed Power Systems"?
Joe: The two are not directly coupled other than being new technology. Class 4 FMP is all about safety. Touch the line, cut the line, fault it in any way the source upstream cuts the power. To the degree the SPOG is not downstream from that power cut it can notify you of such events. So a SPOG can be on a seperate power distribution system but monitor fault events elsewhere in the network and give immediate notification of the event in whatever form you want (email, text, light turning red, web button flashing etc).
Does each device need a separate license to be purchased? For the end user, as one tenant may have multiple user's at different rooms?
Joe: No recuring fees – comes with lifetime license. Each SPOG can be limited to only display the elements in that room and not have visibility to other rooms.
Should we use separate networks or VLANs for all PoE devices?
Joe: Lighting should ideally be a separate network but a separate VLAN at a minimum. Lighting is latency sensitive – press a button and you must respond in less than half a second. Having a network that has media streaming interfere with that is undesirable.
What is the controller with the USB stick? What does it do? Who makes it?
Joe: We make the controller – it is called a CORTAP. It is the “air traffic controller” for the building
General costs of a high power switch?
What is a rectifier? Who makes it?
Joe: The rectifier converts AC (120VAC to DC (53VDC) up to 3000W
Tyler: We have it made for us by a trusted partner.
How compatible are the lighting systems/software with BMS platforms like Niagara? Can data be shared to allow for lighting occupancy sensors to also control mechanical systems?
Joe: The gateway can connect to a Niagra system and share information such as occupancy status.
Would this have its own application to control the system or could it be integrated into a BMS system such as Jonhson Controls Metasys?
Joe: It has its own management software, connects to conventional wallswitches and occupancy sensors. It can also connect to other systems like JC through relay contact closures or through our REST API interface.
Most heat load happens at the fixture, not at the data switch, correct?
Joe: AC to DC conversion is not efficient and one of the benefits of PoE is you remove that heat loss at each fixture.
Tyler: Most of the heat loss is in the rectifier followed by the PoE switch. The heat losses at the fixture are minimal.
Where are we getting "fancy" fixtures? Seems like we only see flat panels & strips.
Joe: We do fancy fixtures as well as plain jane light bulbs and grid lighting. We support almost any type of fixture.
Tyler: If it’s LED, you can likely make it PoE powered. If you’d like ideas on cool light fixtures already PoE approved, we recommend visiting our friends at LED Industries who make some really cool fixtures.
Where do I find cut sheets for all of this?
Joe: Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler: We have a full package we share on all of our products.
Do you know of a rack mounted UPS brand/model that is UL rated for emergency lighting?
Joe: We resell a UL924 EM battery backup system
Tyler: Unfortunately, no one yet has a rack mounted UPS system with a UL 924 rating. We have to go off rack for now. But we’re working hard to make that a reality.
Can four 20W fixtures on a single 90W port be controlled individually or must a home run to each fixture be required to control separately?
Joe: Each can be controlled individually
Tyler: The LINC has 4x outputs, so you can control each output independently if you’d like.
Do the fixtures come with a POE driver or are they field installed?
Joe: The LINC is the PoE driver and you can retrofit 98% of the lights today by bypassing the AC driver and connecting the LINC output to the LED +/LED- of the fixture.
Tyler: Some brands will pre-install the driver into a light fixture. Our experience has been, though, that no matter what fixture we install a driver into, it will not be the fixture the architect, designer, or owner wants. It also reduces the efficiency in field wiring because then every fixture needs a homerun CAT cable. So, we opted to allow for field wiring.
How easy is it to swap out the main displays on wallstations should it be damaged, and what (if any) set up would be required to return the system to full functionality?
Joe: If you had a spare wallstation it is literally plug in the new one and it auto updates. That is the beauty of making it a web page and putting it into kiosk mode. It has one job and it does that one job in a “plug and play” way.
Do you provide 90W PoE switches?
Joe: We provide one that does 90W per port and we have a 24 port version and an 8 port version (so 2.1kW and 720W respectively) Cisco, transition networks also offer switches but may not support all 24 ports at 90W.
May have missed it, however for the Project did you utilize licensed electricians to complete the install or structured cabling technicians? If you used the cabling techs, did they have a license or certified in structured cabling, and what license or certificate did they have?
Joe: No electricians needed! Anyone can install it but structured cabling folks with experience with cat cable are ideal. No certification needed because it is all class 2 power. But we recommend and refer people with certifications so they can install and quote with minimal challenges or oversights.
I've seen systems in the past in which you effectivly have to chop off one end of the Category cable to terminate onto a Phoenix connector or some other type of connector. Is all of this now actually just RJ45 plug and play?
Joe: The cat6 is IEEE802.3bt compliant – it is not just a RJ45 connection to 8 wires. It is standard compliant. The LINC driver has PoE input and 18AWG-2 wires out to the LED and performs the driver function of the LED.
Tyler: It depends on the manufacturer, however, we have made all of our devices to accept RJ-45 connectors where they connect using the CAT cable.
Do you run into cases where the CAT cable for the lighting has to be installed in conduit for physical security or protection?
Joe: No. Outside of Cook County IL a cable tray or JHOOK is acceptable.
Tyler: While it’s always best to check the local code standards – by the way, this can easily be done with a quick visit to the city to simply ask what you need to know – we’ve found 99% of municipalities are excited to see PoE lighting. However, you and the owner may decide that in certain key areas potentially exposed to weather or vandalism do require conduit.
Can contractors do commissionings and field functional changes?
Joe: yes – if you can navigate a web page – I will train anyone interested.
Tyler: Yes, Joe is serious. He has a one hour online tutorial you can do through Zoom which will show you all the major steps in wiring, commissioning, and programming a system. Click in the link at the bottom of the page to schedule your own training.
Is the Best Practice to restrict length of run to 100m due to voltage drop or balancing properly spaced Telecom rooms?
Joe: yes cat6 < 100m to conform to standard.
Tyler: I would extend that answer to “it depends”. Our 8 port PoE++ switches accept Fiber data and are designed to be installed in enclosed spaces like ceilings. So you can either choose to have telecom rooms spaced around the facility or you can choose a distributed network system where switches are mounted in the ceilings. The Sinclair Marriot has a distributed network system like that. It’s a design preference.
Does each switch and light fixture require a home run cable?
Can this system be installed by Data Technicians and Electricians? All copper cabling, correct?
Joe: Anyone can install it. Since it is class 2 you do not need a license to install it. AWG 18-2 and cat6 are all you need.
What is the typical rack space PoE light consumes? Maybe in a patch panels/sq ft?
Joe: ROUGH estimates: 0.5W/SF each 2U rack space hosts 2.1kW of power or ~ 4k SF.
How many SPOG interfaces can you have on the system and can you limit the level of access?
Joe: We can restrict access and no limit to the number of interfaces. We believe in a layered UI approach allowing you to delve down the “rabbit hole” as far as you want.
Is the SPOG similar or does it interface with building automation systems (BAS)?
Joe: The SPOG can take information from the BAS and be a UIX point for that. BAS systems vary wildly so I have yet to see a consistant interface that crosses manufacturers and they are typically tied to a proprietary agenda (ex Lutron, Honeywell, JCI etc).
Can you list some of the more prevalent open standards you integrate around? BACnet? MODBUS? MQTT/REST/JSON?
Joe: REST/JSON are our basis of design. We have done integration with BACNET via IP calls and relay closures. MQTT is on the Q1 roadmap. MODBUS is a VERY old standard. We could interface to it if the business case made sense but when you have 1Gbs available on PoE it is hard to go back to buad rates that have k in them 🙂 We also interface to DALI (Also slow), DMX, enocean, zigbee, BLE and wifi.
What integrations are common with security/access control systems? What are on the horizon?
Joe: A common integration is FOB, keypad or App (bluetooth) entry via a reciever. The acesss event is matched against a database and the point of access (ie door number). If an affirmative match is found then the door is opened via a mag lock, door strike or bar for some time (ex 10 seconds) and then the lock is reapplied. The lock can also have a manual “request button” that can connect with a human (local or remote) and a camera to then support manual opening of the door (local or remote). These are all available today. We can also do other actions like setting lights to a specific level in a specific room or set the temp on the thermostat to a desired level (ex weekend entry).
What is a common open standard for the SPOG?
Joe: REST API – it is the standard that runs on every web page on the planet.
Is the SPOG just software operating a typical wall screen?
Joe: SPOG in our paradim is a touch interactive web page put into kiosk mode (so single purpose). The content for the web page is served up by our cortap server who is responsible for the controls and data collection of all the components for the building. Part of this is integration with other systems, part of this is direct control over devices but all tied together in one UI.
Is there a specific software that is easier to integrate or can any access control system be integrated to it?
Joe: Any access control system can be integrated into our system that hosts a dry contact relay closure. More sophisticated ones we can connect to through an API and a commmunication medium (wired or wireless) Our PoE LINC devices control 12/24/36/48 V devices including door locks and can be tied to any stimulus event (ex relay closure or REST API call).
Ready to Learn More?
Click here to schedule some quality one-on-one time with our CTO, Joe