IP Camera PoE Power Consumption Measurements

By: IPVM Team, Published on Sep 03, 2013

How much power an IP camera consumes is quite important, especially since most PoE switches do not support max power to each camera. Unfortunately, PoE Power Problems are commonplace. However, this can be overcome by measuring power usage.

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Comments (21)

Ask, and ye shall receive!

Good and interesting article. PoE power is something I think many of us (wisely) fret about- making sure we have enough. Very interesting that real usage comes so far under spec's for many manufcaturers. A rare case of under promising and over delivering versus the other way around.

I suspect it's one of those things that manufacturers have little pressure to skew (compare to lux ratings, db ratings, etc.) as power consumption is not as often a deal breaker in specs. Also, it's fairly straightforward to measure (again compared to other major specs).

Someone fill me in on how the lower end / unmanged switches deal with this. All my net equipment is mid to high end, all managed. They work off a power budget concept so in the end (for me, w/ default configs) it matters more about what power class the camera states it needs not about what it is really using. So even if a camera were to only use ~4 watts but was "registered" class 2 it still allocates 7 watts from the power budget. Once the budget is gone.. no more power to future devices that might need (exact behavor can be vary by config. For the sake of discussion my comments are based on some Cisco defaults.).

So my question is, how do the lower end switches handle this? Juice it up till it runs over the capacity of the power supply and starts doing funny stuff? From some people's comments that's what it sounds like. Of course I'm sure this varies with make/model.

So my question is, how do the lower end switches handle this? Juice it up till it runs over the capacity of the power supply and starts doing funny stuff?

That's exactly what they do. At best, it simply won't power up the next one. At worst, you'll get intermittant outages. It tends to not stick to one port, either. It could drop the camera on port 1, then that one will come back up and port 4 will drop, then that one will come back up, etc. etc. until you're going insane.

That's where the Power Panel comes in handy. On a managed switch, you could check the management interface for consumption to diagnose these things.

Good point on the power classes, also. One of the things I was expecting for while Derek was doing the test was for at least one camera to register a higher class and then drop, essentially "wasting" power. But none of them did.

I am installing several IP cameras. The manufacturers specs read... "Class 3 PoE Switch, 7.2W, 600mA". What does the 600mA refer to? That seems awful high?

Vincent - Without knowing what camera model it is, it is difficult to tell. But it sounds like the camera can be either PoE or externally 12VDC powered. 7.2W / 600mA = 12V.

An inexpensive meter that gives watts, amps, volts and amphours is made called "doc Watson" it is $60. it is aailable from rc electronics.

What was the load on the CPU for these cameras? (resolution, codec, compression, Analytics, events, etc).

Jeffrey, are you asking about how CPU load relates to power consumption?

Most cameras do not display real time CPU load, but we'll add a 'stress' test shaking a camera while having multiple clients connected to it.

I was just wonderingoff the cameras are being tested in a vms environment with streams being pulled and on board motion setup.

I am designing a bunch of solar sites, so loaded power numbers are critical.

Hi Jeffrey, the cameras tested were generally in a lit room, with a still scene. Settings were default, typically 30 FPS H.264.

Derek just tested a few cameras with our stage laser in the dark to create huge amounts of motion, and shook the tripod at the same time, and none of them increased their power consumption. Hope that answers the question!

Forgot to mention that we were viewing streams as this was done. Some were dropping frames, as well, so load was definitely high.

What if you put a 80-90 metre cable run between the switch and camera, with the power meter at the switch?

Any power consumption in the long cable?

Yes indeed. A wire does have resistance, inductance and capacitance based on its length. This is why you can find POE Injectors to put out more source power that what the spec calls for at the PD device.

For example, Phihong.

This means that for long cable runs you should consider the use of cable with 'thicker' wire (ie lower gauge numbers) to help mitigate the IR loss.

This is useful for us solar engineers; thank you!

Why is a power tester such as Byte Bros needed if the NVR software shows power consumption of each camera?

Ok, you're going to have to explain this joke.

Greg dug this discussion up from the grave dated 2013.

You may not need it if the PSE (switch, NVR, etc.) provides you with the power consumption, but you may want these tools to verify that information. Also, the PSE is reporting the power provided at the near end and you may want to check the power delivered at the far end.

If the equipment does not provide this function (unmanaged PoE switch, Injector, etc.) you may also find this helpful.

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