By Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign, LLC
The ability to deliver power via Ethernet cabling promises to bring about significant changes to the digital signage landscape. The concept is pretty simple, yet the benefits go far beyond simple convenience. To be clear, the convenience of power-over-Ethernet (POE) is significant. The ability to run a single cable that serves the dual purpose of powering a device while also sending content to that device is a great advantage. And not having to run power to the device’s location is a convenience in itself. But the benefits of POE run much deeper.
For example, POE offers a cost savings when compared to traditionally powered devices. Not only does the lack of a power outlet reduce the overall installation cost, but the raw cost of Ethernet cabling is less than the cost of traditional AC wire. You add to that the typical cost of an electrician versus a low voltage contractor, the savings are large!
Ethernet switches are generally enterprise-class products, which are always safer for digital signage installations. In particular, the use of POE eliminates the AC/DC connection as a path for surges into AV equipment, thus adding a subsequent layer of protection to the connected devices.
Lastly, POE opens up new possibilities for device placement. Whether someone is trying to tuck a media player out of view or wanting to power a small tabletop display, powering those devices with Ethernet cabling introduces a great deal of flexibility in where those devices can be placed. Thus, POE enables optimal design of signage installations without the worry of proximity to power outlets.
Power-over-Ethernet is something that’s well known amongst AV tradespeople, but customers aren’t always aware of how prevalent it’s become. As a growing number and diversity of devices are designed to be powered via Ethernet, it’s incumbent on us to educate customers on the benefits of POE, and specify use of POE devices whenever possible.