PoE (Power over Ethernet) can be a new and potentially confusing term to a lot of people searching for security cameras or security systems. PoE connectivity simplifies cabling needed to connect a device by allowing power and data delivery over a single network cable such as CAT5e or CAT6. It makes it easy to connect devices such as IP security cameras, or office phones; a separate power supply or electrical outlet for each device is not needed. Basically if you use PoE you can transmit the data and the power through the same cable. However, it is important to know the nuances about PoE equipment to avoid damaging your equipment. There are two types of PoE connections – active and passive. While one may think active is with power and passive is without power, that’s not correct. In this article we will clarify these misunderstandings and help you get the right equipment.

Active PoE

Active PoE means that a device is rated to be 802.3af or 802.3at compliant (and that’s good for IP cameras). These are regulated specifications that require a device and power supply to do a “handshake” or verification. The PoE power supply tests the connection to the device and ensures that the power is compatible. If it isn’t, then the device simply will not power up, preventing any potential damage. Most of PoE security cameras require 802.3af/at compliant PoE switches or injectors. It’s always recommended to get an active PoE in order to protect your equipment.

Passive PoE

This is raw unnegotiated power and it’s bad for IP cameras. Passive PoE refers to any device that does not follow the 802.3af or 802.3at specifications. Passive PoE does not do any sort of power check so it simply supplies power regardless of what it is plugged into. This can damage any equipment not rated to accept the passive PoE power input. It is extremely important to understand the requirements and specifications of your equipment before plugging anything in.

Unfortunately many times the customers damage their newly purchased IP security cameras when using a PoE switch that can output Passive PoE Power. If you choose to use your own PoE switch, we recommend the use of reputable manufacturers such as Cisco, Netgear, or TP-Link that manufacture 802.3af/at compliant PoE hardware. Do your research before purchasing any CCTV related equipment.