Why Organizations Are Switching to Power over Ethernet Lighting

Today’s smart buildings don’t just turn on the lights at the beginning of the workday and turn them off at night. In many cases, the lighting controls are based on sunlight levels and whether people are actually in a room in order to truly maximize efficiency. Building automation and energy conservation systems, which include lighting, heating and cooling, video surveillance and various sensors, are also a key component of the Internet of Things (IoT).

LED lighting is gradually replacing fluorescent lighting in the workplace as organizations seek to conserve energy and reduce costs. While fluorescent lights have an average lifespan of 8,000 hours and consume 13 to 15 watts of power, LED lights have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours and consume just six to eight watts. Organizations have also begun to replace traditional electric power sources with Power over Ethernet (PoE), enabling LED light bulbs to be connected to the IoT.

PoE is technology that delivers electricity to networking devices through CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet data cables instead of power cords. Because LED lights require so little electricity to operate, PoE can easily meet the power demands of LED lighting through standard networking cables. Even the 802.3af PoE standard, which has the lowest power output, is capable of yielding almost double the wattage required by LED lights. This allows organizations to take advantage of lower-cost, low-voltage cabling rather than using heavy-duty copper wire and conduit.

PoE lighting eliminates the cost of bringing in licensed electricians when installing lights, and you don’t have to worry about complicated conduit rules and regulations. With PoE, LED lights can be installed virtually anywhere by IT personnel. Because lights are connected to the Internet, they can be remotely controlled and configured from any desktop or mobile device. The simplicity of PoE lighting also makes it easier to connect specific lights to battery backup for emergency purposes.

Cisco recently introduced the Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch, the first switch that allows systems to be powered and connected through the IP data network. Lighting, heating and cooling, security, metering and other systems can be managed on the same switch. The Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch delivers 60 watts of power per port – twice the power of current PoE – to support larger, brighter fixtures. The new switch supplies PoE power within six seconds of powering on and maintains power during upgrades, reboots and configuration changes. Because IT can use familiar switch hardware and interfaces, the installation of PoE lighting is greatly simplified.


CREE PoE lighting products that connect with Cisco equipment and IoT applications help organizations better manage their energy usage. Ambient light sensors control brightness and power usage based on the level of sunlight, while infrared sensors eliminate the need for separate motion detectors. Control settings can be optimized for occupancy detection, daylight harvesting, and specific lighting requirements for certain rooms and users.

Organizations that want to reduce lighting costs should be exploring PoE lighting. Let us show you how the Cisco Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch and CREE PoE lighting products provide greater control over energy consumption and more flexible lighting solutions with fewer layers of wiring.