Higher Power PoE 802.3bt Ratified, Impact on Security Products Examined

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Oct 12, 2018

poe-more-powerPower over Ethernet has become one of the most popular features of many video, access, and other security products. See our PoE for IP Video Surveillance Guide and PoE Powered Access Control Tutorial.

Now PoE is able to transmit even more power, with the new standard boasting:

the newly ratified specification increases maximum power levels supplied by a factor of three. 

But how impactful will the increase be for security?

Inside this note, we explain:

  • The new classes and levels of max power delivered
  • PSE vs PD power availability
  • Impact on cameras
  • Impact on switches, NVRs and monitors
  • Potential for PoE lighting and Display Signange

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Comments (31)

I wonder if we will see 24 and 48 port switches supporting 802.3bt on more than just a few select ports. 

A challenge for super high wattage PoE is that you start to concentrate all of your power load on 1 device and circuit. A 20 amp circuit can supply 2400watts before tripping, but you don't usually want to load circuits to more than ~75% rated capacity. That would mean 1800W, or a max of 20 802.3bt ports on a single 20A circuit.

When you power devices locally instead of PoE you generally end up with your loads spread across multiple circuits, more or less eliminating the need to be overly concerned with maxing out the circuit.

Also, supplying 1800W of power from a single presumably 1U switch would generate a lot of heat, and likely require some server-style fans for airflow, potentially making them a bit noisy.

I do like the idea of being able to power a display or a small NVR via PoE though.

You will just start to see many more switches with 240V power supplies. And much more concern for reliable cooling in telecom closets...


More likely 208v, as that has been the standard in most recent data centers.

This is pretty insightful.  Fortunately, building power design has typically required some fairly rigid certification and education (in the form of Electricians), but now things are opening up to a more 'plug & play' minded PoE IT or security technician.

Just because it is possible, does not make it a good idea!  So powering building/ business subsystems off the switch rack could present lots of hazards the market has not experienced yet!

I'm struggling to find a reason to deploy PoE lighting with exception to maybe some RGB accent lighting for elaborate AV spaces. 

Its low voltage so you dont need to be an electrician to install it.

More "smart options" as long as the POE controller is managed of some sort. 

Cuz its kewl

So powering building/ business subsystems off the switch rack could present lots of hazards the market has not experienced yet!


I wonder how hot large cable bundles are going to get? That much power running through cat5e cable in a large bundle is going to get hot. If you dress your cable bundles to look nice and straight you may have to think about bringing some of the cables in the center out to the outside to help dissipate some of that heat.

Yes, this is definitely a concern. Cable manufacturers have recommended using Cat6 (thicker conductors/less resistance and voltage drop) and/or shielded cables for higher-power PoE deployments.  Some of the test data and whitepapers I have seen show that a bundle of 24 Cat5e cables running high-power PoE stays within the 15°C over ambient recommended max heat rise, but higher density Cat5e bundles might have issues with heat.

Also, the connectors, particularly patch panels and outlets, are a point of concern. Better quality ones should have been built to handle at least 1 amp per pair, but I'm not sure I would trust the budget and off-brand terminations with 802.3bt.


If heat is an issue with higher output POE, particularly in large bundles of network cabling, wouldn't de-rating the cables start to come into play here? If de-rating cables were to be a requirement, I would suppose that would require some kind of licensed electrician/technician to make those calculations. It seems like this could be apply to plug and play end users but if heat is an issue, i would be surprised the local licensing authorities would not try to get a hold on it otherwise people could and would install in whatever manner they wish and there would be virtually no control over them. 

It’s been several years since I was very ‘in the weeds’ on low voltage cabling regulations and background behind the regs. As I recall, with the cabling classified as ‘low voltage’, much of the NEC regs (or related regs for other countries) are bypassed and/or just not at all considered. Some of the early ideas behind low voltage communications cable work was that there simply wasn’t enough power running through the cables to warrant any kind of real concern for derating and such. 

Newer classes of PoE, and the prevalence of low voltage cable powering more and more devices, may make some of these historic abilities to not have to do the math on cable bundles obsolete. 

I agree with this too.

In reviewing the various draft notes of 'bt' studies over the years, many non-cable manufacturer members also cited concerns about heat and potential ignition in bundles of cable.

I'm not sure what changed, or even if anything did, to make 802.3bt compatible with Cat 5e.

With the higher wattage standards are they keeping the voltage at 40 Volts? 

The 802.3bt standard is backward compatible with previous standards, so they'll all be using the nominal 48 VDC voltage (which is often more like ~55 VDC at the PSE, incidentally!)

I believe the voltages for the newer classes are actually 50v & 52v, but also backwards compatible for classes 1-4 (types 1 & 2).

This table is from a microsemi whitepaper, but from draft versions of the standard.


That is interesting.  Is the voltage rate now part of the class negotiation before PoE is sent by the PSE?

What does "4P Capable" mean?

Cheers :)

4 Pairs of conductors available for power 

This is my understanding too.  '4P'PoE was popularized back when the 802.3af standard only specified using 2 of the 4 elegible pairs in a typical UTP Cat cable.

I would like to see more POE in the Access Control world

I don’t know that I agree... it just seems like that will lead to more trunkslammer and DIY sub-par installs.  I cannot explain how often I have seen integrators/security guard companies pretending to be integrators that are using Axis panels incorrectly.  When something is made to appear as “easy” the overall industry tends to go to hell quickly.  See the recently completed surveillance race to the bottom for an example. 

I don’t know that I agree... it just seems like that will lead to more trunkslammer and DIY sub-par installs.

You are probably correct, but this only means it is because it has became easier to install which is a good thing. Simple is the highest level of genius.

I am not a big believer that a product should be intentionally complex to require the need of an expert. Matter of fact, I despise this.

I have to admit that my comments are still amateur as I am now just diving into the access control world so feel free to rip me apart, but alot of the access control stuff seems clunky to me. Big nasty cabinets everywhere. Im envisioning a POE based rack mountable system that you can run multiple doors into. The device would look more like an embedded DVR than an old school wired alarm system.

The trend has been POE at the door with the controller above the ceiling. That is all fine and dandy until you have to service the equipment. Installer doesn't not or label where the controller is above the ceiling, they put it directly above a busy door, a location above the ceiling had access below then they install furniture or equipment below not you can't get to the device to service. Essentially all that access control is a Burg system on steroids. I'm not sure how much more you could make POE in the access control world. There are already POE readers, controllers and door locks. One of the main differences between the traditional access control systems and the edge systems is the functionality and reporting features. I have worked on many different systems over the years and not one "Appliance" based system had near the reporting capability as a server based system running an SQL database. 

Category 5e Cable Compliant

Surprising to some, 802.3bt standard works with Cat 5e cable and does not require thicker-wire conductor Cat 6 cable as part of the spec.

The compatibility with Cat 5e matches the recommended wire gauge (22 -24 AWG UTP) used by previous PoE standards. Some vendors had speculated heavier-gauge Cat 6 would be required by 802.3bt due to heat dissipation concerns in long bundles of PoE conductors. This is not the case upon ratification.

Yeah, like others here, I'm skeptical this is a good idea even if it CAN operate on Cat 5e. Also, there have already been non standard high power PoE compatible PTZs available in the wild already. Dahua has a few models for sure.

There are a few beyond Dahua that may potentially be non-standard:

Avigilon H4 PTZs

Avigilon H4A Multi-head when released

Avigilon H4 IR PTZ

Axis Q6000-e


There are many more pre-standard releases that may be questionable now.  Hopefully spec sheets are updated and testing verified.

If it is a pre-standard, it may not ever be compatible without a hardware change.


We added a section on the potential impact for access control above.

Access Impact Limited Too

Even with more power than 802.3af's ~13W available, access control controllers did not make widespread use of 802.3at, so speculating that they will rush to adopt 'bt' does not seem likely. However, over time, specialized PoE controllers designed for multiple doors and switching high-powered outputs may emerge.

Powering devices like maglocks directly from the controller could become more common as well, with more 'passed-through power' available for field devices. However, the limitation of powering continuous duty maglocks is also a weakness for controller integrated relay contacts that may not be rated for continuous energized 'wet' contact. But certainly with more PoE power now, hardware contact designs could elevate to match the output available.

It is difficult to see 'bt' replacing lower-powered (and less expensive) PoE, but the possibility is there for multi-door (ie: multi-reader) controllers and those connected to certain types of locks like maglocks.

I believe there is a typo/mistake in the text and graphics.  I believe the new standard is 90w at the PSE & 71w at the PD. The article states 99w at the PSE.


Due to the safety certifications for low voltage, it has to be below 100w.  If the PD and PSE are located close to each other, thus there shouldn't be much loss over the length of the cable, and the PD can actually get closer to 90w delivered!  Of course, that would be a troubleshooting nightmare. Hopefully, no manufacturer will put out a product that requires 90w.  Rather it could operate better (melt snow on a camera dome quicker, perform a cold start quicker, etc.) if there is more than the 71w available....

You are correct, this was a typo.  Fixed!  Thanks.

...certainly with more PoE power now, hardware contact designs could elevate to match the output available.

While they are at it... - one of the most disturbing security-related aspect of network switches as PSEs for access-control, is power loss to the PDs (doors) when a switch is updated/reset, as this turns fail-safe doors to curtains...

IMHO first priority for a switch manufacturer should be retaining the POE supply when the switch is updated/reset.


I know from past experience that EMEA installations of 'low voltage' have different definitions depending on the country.    If my memory is correct there was a 50v max in several, which this spec is clearly higher than that.

I ask the EMEA folks to please chime in on what this standard can bring to the table or what problems it will cause, if any?

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