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?
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.
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 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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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?
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