PoE: Switch vs. Midspan

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Mar 12, 2012

Whether to use PoE switches or midspans is a fundamental decision with strong opinions on both sides. Some insist that midspans are completely unnecessary, given the reliability and lower costs of PoE switches today. Others insist that midspans offer flexibility and reliability that switches do not. To find out what is really selected, we asked 100 integrators what they used as part of our Winter 2012 Integrator Survey.

The Responses

Here is a visual breakdown of their responses:

An overwhelming majority of respondents (86%) preferred PoE switches to midspans. This is not surprising, as past discussions have indicated preferences for PoE switches, as well.

PoE Switches

By far, the most common reasons given for using PoE switches were lower cost and greater simplicity. PoE switch pricing has come down in the past few years, making the combination of a non-PoE switch plus a midspan more expensive, as we discussed in our PoE cost comparisons. Additionally, a midspan takes up another space in the rack, and requires two patch cables instead of one, making PoE switches simpler to install.

  • "No brainer here. Why use two devices when the job can be accomplished by one. Reliability of the power is not a factor. POE switches are cheap. The installation is cleaner with a single switch."
  • "Where ever possible we use quality PoE switches, again fewer components. Keep it simple"
  • "PoE switches where possible. Gives me the possibility to remotely reboot cameras that have lost contact. Injectors only when installing in an existing network with existing non-PoE switches or at low cost installations with outdoor cameras that we power through the housing and need one or two indoor cameras."
  • "Keeps the installation simple and clean. A switch is a required component; adding power to it reduces cost and total number of parts to install."
  • "PoE switch is cheaper than a midpsan plus a regular switch. Some midspans cost more than PoE switch! PoE switches have worked fine for us."
  • "Fewer components, lower cost. We don't get into situation requiring super heavy duty high power POE so off the shelf power is fine for nearly all of our applications."
  • "Less rackspace, less heat, the patch cables. Less is better. Now if it's a couple cameras then we use single port injectors"
  • "Simplicity and cost. If you are providing the switches for a separate network (my preference) then just make the switch POE. All of the IT departments we have dealt with if they are providing the switches go this route as well."
  • "For standard 15W PoE, we find that PoE network switches work best. Many of our municipal clients furnish their own switches or have direct accoutns with HP, Dell, or Cisco and want to purchase them direct. The cost differential between a PoE switch and a non-PoE siwtch is usually less than privding a midspan."

Another feature which received multiple mentions is the ability to remotely monitor and reset power on specific ports:

  • "POE switches give you much more control, the ability to remotely power cycle a port is a big advantage where you have very dispersed installations."
  • "PoE switches where possible. Gives me the possibility to remotely reboot cameras that have lost contact."
  • "Going directly to a switch offers the management capabilities to see power used and reset power to a given port. There are a few midspans that offer such, but many times at a greater cost."

As the last commenter said, these features are available in some midspans, but typically add to cost, making midpans even less cost effective compared to switches.

Midspans

The most common reason given for preferring midspans was that it created a clear delineation of responsibility. Using a midspan also allows IT departments to deploy their typical equipment, often non-PoE switches. 

  • "I prefer injectors, it gives a good point of demarcation between the IT and Security departments. It also gives our technicians the ability to plug a laptop into an IP camera without the connecting the laptop to the corporate network."
  • "We have seen issues with bad ports and faulty ports as well as ghost issues with POE power. We typically spec the switch but don't always offer so it would be best to use injectors to keep the burden off of our solution (responsibility wise)."
  • "Most importantly for us is the midspan provides an excellent boundary between what we are providing and what the owner is responsible for. We dont need to worry about the owner wanting a Cisco, HP, etc. type switch."

Trends

These preferences remained fairly unchanged across all average system sizes. Integrator preference towards analog or IP cameras had no material impact.

4 reports cite this report:

PoE for IP Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 08, 2018
This guide provides comprehensive explanations of the elements in selecting and using Power Over Ethernet with IP cameras. Inside this report we...
5 Most Common PoE Questions on Feb 02, 2017
In our IPVM IP Networking course, Power Over Ethernet (PoE) is a core component that students show significant interest in. The top ones...
PoE Midspan With Switch Tested on Mar 23, 2016
Both PoE switches and midspans generally provide power to network devices. One question that is regularly raised in IPVM classes is whether...
Video Surveillance Statistics Directory Vol 2 on Mar 18, 2012
In this report, we aggregate and present numerous statistics about how surveillance is being used in the real world. Recently, we conducted an in...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in designing video surveillance systems. Though 'convergence' was a big...
BICSI For IP Video Surveillance Guide on Feb 11, 2020
Spend enough time around networks and eventually someone will mention BICSI, the oft-referenced but only vaguely known standards body prevalent in...
Network Cabling for Video Surveillance on Jan 15, 2020
In this guide, we explain the fundamentals of network cabling for video surveillance networks, how they should be installed, and the differences in...
Horizontal Cabling for Video Surveillance Guide on Jan 03, 2020
There are a few options when it comes to professionally installing horizontal cabling for video surveillance networks. The three options examined...
Altronix Claims Tango 'Eliminates Electricians' on Oct 15, 2019
Power supply provider Altronix claims its new Tango power supply 'eliminates the need for an electrician, dedicated conduit and wire runs'. In...
Save $50 - Register Now - Spring 2020 IP Networking Course on Oct 10, 2019
Save $50 - Register Now - Spring 2020 IP Networking Course. The course starts next week. This is the only networking course designed...
Siklu $400 Compact 60GHz Radio on Jul 24, 2019
Siklu first entered the video surveillance market with a $6,000 per link solution, is now aiming down market with their newest 60GHz wireless...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
Many wireless options exist for video surveillance but how are integrator's overall favorites? 170 integrators answered the question: What is...
Dahua ePoE Long Distance UTP / Coax Tested on May 03, 2019
Dahua's Enhanced PoE (ePoE) line is claiming extended video and power transmission over 600m without repeaters, with devices interchangeable via...
Cambium Wireless Video Surveillance Profile on Mar 27, 2019
Cambium Networks, spun out of Motorola Solutions in 2011, says "outdoor durable radios are in their DNA" and they are targeting video surveillance...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter of a billion dollars in VC funding, and multiple failures to gain...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's reporting on Athena, calling it 'deplorable' and repeatedly criticizing IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30 series cameras, claiming to deliver "sharp video quality even in poor...
Coronavirus Shuts Down ADT Door Knockers on Mar 26, 2020
Coronavirus has another victim - this time, alarm giant ADT has stopped all door to door sales. Door knockers are a critical but controversial...
Access Control Course Spring 2020 - Save $50 Last Day on Mar 26, 2020
Register Now - Spring 2020 Access Control Course. Today, March 26th is the last day to save $50. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access...
Convergint Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 25, 2020
One of the world's largest security integrators, Convergint, has made a major move to handle the impact of coronavirus, with cuts across the...
VSaaS 101 on Mar 25, 2020
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) is the common industry term for cloud video. But what does it mean? How does it all work? Inside this...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel but some China manufacturers are offering full facial recognition...
IPVM Launches On-Demand Courses on Mar 24, 2020
For nearly a decade, IPVM has been a leader in online live courses. Now, we have added on-demand versions for all courses. The same course...