Power over Ethernet or PoE technology describes a system to pass electrical power safely, along with data, on Ethernet cabling. The IEEE standard for PoE requires category 5 cable or higher for high power levels, but can operate with category 3 cable if less power is required. Power is supplied in common mode over two or more of the differential pairs of wires found in the Ethernet cables and comes from a power supply within a PoE-enabled networking device such as an Ethernet switch or can be injected into a cable run with a midspan power supply.
The original IEEE 802.3af-2003 PoE standard provides up to 15.4 W of DC power (minimum 44 V DC and 350 mA) to each device. Only 12.95 W is assured to be available at the powered device as some power is dissipated in the cable.
The updated IEEE 802.3at-2009 PoE standard also known as PoE+ or PoE plus, provides up to 25.5 W of power. The 2009 standard prohibits a powered device from using all four pairs for power. Some vendors have announced products that claim to be compatible with the 802.3at standard and offer up to 51 W of power over a single cable by utilizing all four pairs in the Category 5 cable.
Numerous non-standard schemes had been used prior to PoE standardization to provide power over Ethernet cabling. Some are still in active use.
Read more about Power Over Ethernet: Comparison With Other Integrated Data and Power Standards, Uses, Power Management Features and Integration, Standard Implementation
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... Standards-based power over Ethernet is implemented following the specifications in IEEE 802.3af-2003 (which was later incorporated as clause 33 into IEEE 802.3-2005) or the 2009 update, IEEE 802.3 ... A phantom power technique is used to allow the powered pairs to also carry data ... which use only two of the four pairs in the cable, but also with 1000BASE-T (gigabit Ethernet), which uses all four pairs for data transmission ...
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