Data CenterPower and Cooling

Protect Your Wiring Closets Against Excessive Heat When Adding Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology can significantly reduce the amount of cabling required to support networking and data center environments, translating into cost savings, greater freedom regarding the location of devices, and higher reliability. But as organizations deploy PoE-capable devices more widely, they best be mindful of the ramifications it may have from a power protection and heat generation perspective.

To help in that effort, Schneider Electric’s online Energy University is offering a free online course titled, “Power Over Ethernet’s Effect on Wiring Closets.” This course illustrates power and cooling factors to consider when deploying a PoE network, to prevent unanticipated downtime and premature deterioration of equipment.

Several types of equipment make up a PoE network. The first category is “power sourcing equipment” or PSE, which is any device that allows for power to be injected into a PoE network. Another equipment category is the “powered device” or PD, which is any device that consumes the power supplied by the PSE in order to operate. Examples of PDs include IP phones and wireless access points. Lastly, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is any device that ensures availability of power to the PoE network in the event of a power supply disruption.

The PSE is often located within a wiring closet or small server or network room, and is supported by a UPS to ensure availability during power supply disruptions. Legacy telecommunication networks typically used wiring closets mainly for punchdown blocks, patch panels, and a few small stackable hubs or switches – none of which draw all that much power. But PoE is often used in voice over IP (VoIP) networks, so the VoIP equipment is typically added to the same wiring closet as the PSE equipment that supplies power to the PoE network. Such equipment consumes considerably more power and, in the process, generates significantly more heat than the legacy equipment. It is therefore essential to ensure proper power and cooling physical infrastructure is in place.

That can be an issue because wiring closets are typically hidden in some remote location of the building with little or no ventilation and illumination. The course offers a thorough explanation of the various elements that add heat to a wiring closet, guidance as to acceptable temperature ranges, and a number of options for ensuring the closets are properly cooled.

The cooling methods discussed in the course include:

  • Conduction cooling, where heat simply escapes the room through walls and ceilings
  • Passive ventilation, which involves the use of ventilation grills that allow heat to leave rooms naturally
  • Dedicated air conditioning systems, which are typically required when power levels in a closet exceed approximately 2000 watts for critical closets or 4500 watts for non-critical closets

PoE is being used for an array of business critical applications, including VoIP, RFID and security. As a result, the level of availability required from the physical infrastructure supporting these systems has to be high enough to meet business needs.

It’ll take less than an hour to check out the free course, “Power Over Ethernet’s Effect on Wiring Closets,” but it just may save you from a costly PoE-related outage. You’ll find it in the College of Data Centers at Energy University.


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