Intelligent lighting through power over ethernet (POE)

The fast paced and demanding world of today has given rise to advancements in sectors we could never have imagined a few years ago. Incorporating smart engineering with functional architectural designs is one of the most undervalued innovations falling in this category. Architects and structural engineers have designed energy efficient workplaces that defy common understanding of the correlation between space and energy usage after years of research and development, leading to the utilization of technology to keep the energy usage in check.

For example, a renowned multi-national company’s office in Amsterdam uses about 6,500 LED luminaires spread over 15 floors and seats about a 1000 employees and yet it is the cheapest workplace on the planet, all because of its intelligent lighting systems that use Power over Ethernet technology and the Internet of Things. It’s no accident that the concept of green buildings, building automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are in limelight all at the same time. The ability to save energy and maximize the usability of a workplace has since become the reason behind ownership’s interest in capitalizing smart building solutions, and justifiably so, given the automation of buildings, an integrated control system can save up to 10-40% in energy costs alone. Lighting systems that use Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology into the IoT prove to be the best way to maintain and increase efficiencies across smart buildings according to the ‘3-30-300 Principle’.

The 3-30-300SM Principle (developed by a real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle) is a way to compare the expenditure by an organization on utilities, lease, and salaries. If a business sheds $3 per square foot per year for utilities, it spends $30 for lease and $300 for salaries. Internet of Things (IoT) serves as the central nervous system of smart buildings where devices amass and share data about themselves, their consumers, their surroundings, and the other devices with which they associate. This information provides insights helping businesses in maximizing energy savings, improving space, employee comfort and output. When we talk about lighting systems that use Power over Ethernet, LED technology is a great way of bringing both lighting and information technology together. Due to its digital nature this allows lighting systems to contribute to the Internet of Things.

In layman term PoE lighting refers to the ability to use an Ethernet cable (cables used to connect internet modems to the laptops) to supply power to LED lighting systems and transmit data between them and the governing software. The universal standard Cat 5/6 cable is capable of carrying commands from the software to the lighting fixture and all the other connected devices such as sensors and wall switches.

In essence, this means that one cable can both power and regulate the lighting appliances connected to the network. When the Ethernet cable is plugged into a luminaire, it is spontaneously powered, allocated an exclusive internet protocol address and is discoverable by the central software. Since each lighting appliance has a unique address, this enables the consumer to make variations and provide guidelines to the software sans the time wastage of rewiring the entire lighting scheme.

Data collected from other wired devices, like motion sensors, air conditioning systems, sun control and shading devices, can be used in conjunction to prompt specific lighting instructions such as controlling how dim or bright the lights should be, monitoring their performance, the colour of the light, daylight harvesting, etc. to provide clean and comfortable indoor conditions to occupants with minimum energy use. What this requires is a brain, typically a central software system to control everything.

This database of information received from the lighting devices on the network, combined with an analytics tool, allows consumers to assess the performance of the luminaires and other connected devices, their life expectancy, energy consumption, the ideal conditions for optimum functioning, etc. Power over Ethernet also has its safety benefits. It can be used to communicate whether a device is in need of repairs or is facing technical glitches as and when they arise, preventing short circuits and imminent fires that can arise from them. Therefore, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology into the Internet of Things is a smart and ideal solution to the problems of sustainable workplace, financial and energy efficiency, space optimization and employee productivity.

ANA Design, landscape design and architectural firm which provides services to process and retail industries. Among a variety of services offered by ANA, Architects and structural engineers have designed energy efficient workplaces that defy common understanding of the correlation between space and energy usage after years of research and development, leading to the utilization of technology to keep the energy usage in check by applying ethernet technology.

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