Choosing the Right PoE Switch for Your IP Camera

If your company is working on a PoE surveillance project, you are probably asking questions like:

  • How do I select a PoE switch for my IP cameras?
  • Do I need a Gigabit PoE network switch?
  • What PoE switch is best for over four IP cameras?

This article shares some information that will help you make an informed decision.

A Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch provides both power supply and data connection by means of a single Cat5, Cat5e, or Cat6 Ethernet cable. PoE switches are a popular solution for business IP cameras surveillance systems—however, different IP camera systems require different types of PoE switches.

Why You Should Use a PoE Switch for Your IP Camera System

PoE technology simplifies network cabling by simultaneously transmitting power and data over a single Ethernet cable. PoE is commonly used in the business sector because Ethernet cable is inexpensive and because PoE IP camera systems provide high-resolution video quality.

The Poe switch connects IP cameras to the Network Video Recorder (NVR) and transmits video and audio data to the NVR for recording. PoE switches are usually equipped with multiple ports that support multiple IP cameras.

There are four major benefits of using a PoE switch for your IP camera system:

  1. IP cameras can be installed up to 100 meters (ten times longer than Wi-Fi IP camera systems). 
  2. More IP cameras can be connected in a PoE camera system.
  3. PoE can supply more power.
  4. Troubleshooting and system management are more straightforward.

What to Consider When Choosing a PoE Switch for Your IP Camera System

There are several important factors to consider when choosing the best PoE switch for your IP camera system.

1) PoE Standard

The total amount of power a PoE switch supplies depends on the standard it uses. It is important to note that different IP camera models require different power strengths. For example, a Pan, Tilt, Zoom (PTZ) camera needs increased power because it has an internal engine that moves endlessly.

It is vital to know what power level is needed for your IP cameras. For example, some IP cameras draw up to 20 watts (W),  while others use as little as three or four watts. 

The 803.2af Standard

With the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.3af standard, a PoE switch can supply up to 15.4W per port. In actuality, each IP camera is supplied with up to 12.95W because power always dissipates in network cables. Typically, this is enough power for most IP cameras.

The 802.3at Standard

The IEEE 802.3at PoE standard increases power availability up to 30W, with 25.5W of power accessible to the device.

The PoE switch you choose must provide enough power to run your cameras, as insufficient power causes video loss and poor performance.

2) Power Supply Voltage

Most IP security cameras run with 12 volts (V) or 24V power. If the proper power voltage is not provided, the IP camera will simply not work correctly. For example, if a 12V camera is powered by a 24V PoE switch (or vice versa), the cameras will likely be “fried.”  

3) PoE Switch Port Number

Should you need to deploy more than four IP cameras, you must make sure the PoE switch you choose has enough ports. PoE switches come in various models, including 8-port, 16-port, 24-port, and 48-port versions. Which model you choose depends on how many devices need to be connected to the PoE switch and the overall power needs of the IP cameras. For example, a 24-port PoE switch with a 370W power supply can power 24 IP cameras using the IEEE 802.3af standard (i.e.15.4W per port) and, in contrast, using the IEEE 802.3at standard (i.e., 30W per port) will support 12 IP cameras.  

4) Port Speed

A Gigabit PoE switch deals with billions of bits per second and is used in large networks. However, high-resolution IP cameras typically use around 2.5Mbps to send video over a network—so spending extra money on Gigabit switches is usually unnecessary, as IP cameras will never use such high speeds. 10/100Mbps PoE switches handle IP cameras quite satisfactorily.

5) Unmanaged and Managed PoE Switches

Unmanaged PoE switches are the cheaper option. They are simple plug-and-play devices that do not require a complex setup. These switches simply enable devices in a network to communicate. An unmanaged PoE switch is more than sufficient for most smaller surveillance systems.

On the other hand, managed PoE switches allow users to manage, configure, and monitor the network in many ways. As a result, managed PoE switches are best suited for larger surveillance projects such as those found in factories or enterprises.  


PoE switches are a simple, cost-effective power solution for a company’s surveillance system needs. Power over Ethernet technology offers many benefits to make your business surveillance simple, efficient, and effective. 

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