Bypass Electrical Headaches with Power over Ethernet

Plug PoE devices into your network for easy, anywhere electrical power

Have you ever needed to plug in a new phone, but you were all out of electrical outlets? Or maybe you’ve tried to install a wireless access point close to the ceiling, but no outlets were nearby. When you first start building your small business network, powering up hardware is the least of your worries. But after you’ve laid some cables and maxed out even your power strips, you may find outlets a precious commodity. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is the easy way to get around wiring when you need electricity for new devices. PoE provides a way to deliver power over your network to a variety of network-attached devices.

PoE allows electrical power to pass over standard Ethernet cables along with data traffic. Hardware equipped with PoE can be plugged directly into the network for a power source—no wall socket necessary. There’s a wide range of these network-attached devices that provide PoE support, including switches, wireless access points (WAPs), IP phones, video cameras, point-of-sale devices, and more.

In 2000, Cisco was the first to deliver devices that got their juice from Ethernet cables using a pre-standard technology. In 2003, the IEEE standards body released the 802.3af standard for PoE, which provides 15.4 watts per port, which is enough for most IP phones and WAPs. In 2009, the IEEE released the most recent update, the 802.3at standard for PoE+. This standard nearly doubles the power per port to 30 watts, is backwards compatible with 802.3af, and provides enough juice to power WAPs, switches, and surveillance cameras.

Obviously, the most compelling benefit of PoE is flexibility. It lets you install devices anywhere you have network cables, from under your floor to the space above your ceiling. PoE offers additional advantages, too:

– High availability for power, even during an outage

– Fast installation on existing Ethernet cables

– Less expensive cabling than new electrical wiring

– Lowers energy costs when combined with Energy-Efficient Ethernet devices, which lowers overall power consumption

PoE is included in many Cisco switches, such as the 200 Series Smart Switches and the 300 Series Managed Switches, WAPs, and IP phones designed for small businesses.

Is your company taking advantage of PoE devices on your network? What benefits have you experienced?

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. it it’s usually more cost effective to use power over ethernet switching than to use normal switches and power packs.

  2. wow power from ethernet is such an easy way to get power for additional devices. It is a very cool way of cutting down cost as one doesn’t requires to do the rewiring to get extra power outlets.