Smart Buildings

A New Way to Support Uncommon Network Power, Speed and Distances

Ron Tellas
More devices are connecting to networks—many with speed and power requirements beyond what Category cabling supports. Find out why fault-managed power is a new option to consider.


For decades, balanced four-pair twisted Category cabling has adequately supported the needs of enterprise networks.


But with the emerging technology and connectivity demands of today, those needs are changing. More systems and devices are being connected to enterprise networks, and many of them have speed and power requirements beyond what four-pair Category cabling can uphold.


Speed and power requirements aren’t the only things changing about network-connected devices—their locations are changing, too. The devices may be installed in areas that are more than 100 m from the closest telecommunications room. This could include a security camera located in a parking garage, a wireless access point in a skywalk or an access control device at the far end of a large warehouse.


In the past, we’ve written about ways you can connect these remote devices when a telecommunications room isn’t nearby. Some of those options include:


1. Create a new telecommunications room within 100 m of the device

While this is a possible solution, it can be an expensive one. Is it worth investing in the additional equipment, cabling, power, etc. required just to connect a device or two? Is it an efficient use of your building space?


2. Use fiber cables instead of copper cables

Again, this is a possibility if you want to connect devices that aren’t within 100 m of a telecommunications room, but fiber is more expensive than copper. If the device you’re connecting is low-speed, such as the controllers and sensors used in HVAC and security applications, fiber isn’t necessary to maintain device performance.


3. Deploy hybrid cables instead of copper cables

Because hybrid cables involve fiber transmission equipment, it’s also one of the more expensive options on this list. Those costs continue to increase when Class 2 limited power sources are incorporated into the cable to deliver power in addition to the data that the fiber transmits. Careful planning is required to make sure the cable can provide adequate power to support the requirements of the connected device.


4. Extend the copper cabling link beyond 100 m

Unlike the choices listed above, this approach doesn’t require an investment in extra equipment or take up more space. It also eliminates the introduction of more potential failure points; however, extended reach isn’t supported by ANSI/TIA-568, so application standards must be used as guidance instead.


Using fault-managed power for unique distance and power requirements

In addition to the four choices mentioned above, an alternative option is emerging to deliver power across greater distances—and it can be combined with fiber to create a single hybrid cable.


Class 4 fault-managed power systems (FMPS), as defined in Article 726 of the 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC), don’t limit power source output like Class 2 and Class 3 power-limited circuits do.


Instead, they continuously monitor for faults and control power-current delivery during an abnormal condition. By limiting the amount of energy that can go into a fault, Class 4 systems mitigate the risk of shock or fire.


This technology makes Class 4 systems just as safe as—if not safer than—Class 2 and Class 3 systems. As a result, Class 4 systems can be installed by the same integrators and contractors that install other types of cabling, such as Category cabling or PoE cabling.


Hybrid Class 4 cables that deliver fault-managed power are increasingly being used to connect and power distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cell systems, as well as passive optical LANs and Wi-Fi access points—all systems and devices with unique power and distance requirements that don’t always align with what Category cabling can provide.


We recently shared our insights on Class 4 as a way to support atypical LAN speeds, power and distances with Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine. In addition to detailing Class 4, the article also takes a close look at Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE)—another technology that Belden supports—as an option for support uncommon LAN speed, power and distance requirements. Read the entire article to learn more about the options for handling channel distances that are longer than 100 m.



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