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Stay up to date on the latest in intelligent building solutions, infrastructure, and innovations from Paige Datacom Solutions.
  • Industry News
  • 06.21.2021

Redefining Category 6: Delivering 2.5 Gb/s and 90W of PoE Power to 200m

With the explosion of high-speed Wi-Fi and the Internet of Things (IoT), applications hopping on the existing copper cabling LAN network, Gigabit Ethernet became a serious bottleneck.  The majority of today’s installed LAN copper cabling (Category 5e or 6) was designed for 1 Gigabit per second (Gb/s). Upgrading to 10 Gb/s Ethernet was the next higher data rate within the standards but that meant retrofitting to Category 6A, which would be an expensive option of “rip and replace.” (Note: Actually, before Category 6A was ratified, Category 6 was defined to support 10G, but distance was limited to 55m.)

In addition to requiring higher speeds for data, other devices that are now attaching to the IP network also require power (Power over Ethernet or PoE) over the same data cabling. Among these are security cameras, access control, digital signage and of course the biggest bandwidth hog - wireless access points (WAPs).  PoE technology reduces installation costs and time by allowing power and data to run over a single twisted-pair cable. But running power with data also comes with additional challenges as temperatures may rise within the cable possibly degrading the data signaling.  This is especially a concern when providing 90W (or more) of power as defined for devices classified as  IEEE 802.3bt Type 4.

 Another challenge for the IP networked devices is their location, such as in remote parking lots or expansive stadiums, which often exceed the Ethernet standards’ distance limit of 100m. Bandwidth, heat and distance have become major concerns for existing Category 6 which has pushed Ethernet to the limit. Luckily there is one cable that defies all limits and is verified to run higher bandwidth, high PoE and twice the distance − the GameChanger Cable™ from Paige.

 

Wi-Fi Drives 2.5 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s 

 Wireless technology continues to jump ahead as multi-gigabit Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 access points are being deployed pushing the bandwidths even higher. This  increased performance capacity created a need for Ethernet rates higher than 1 Gb/s to run on existing cables.

Since the next copper cabling IEEE standard after 1 Gb/s  was defined as 10 Gb/s (IEEE 10GBASE-T) and required Category 6A (or higher), IEEE published the 802.3bz standard (2016) for multi-gigabit Ethernet. This standard defined transmission of high speed and power for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), while using existing Category 5e and Category 6 twisted pair copper cabling. In addition, multi-gig switching enabled 2.5 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s speeds on existing cables, which brought the potential to breathe new life into copper-based infrastructures, while expanding and improving Wi-Fi.  This also provided the ability to add in high-bandwidth IoT capabilities as these evolve – without replacing the existing cabling plant.

 In reality, the technology of IEEE 802.3bz is based on 10GBASE-T, but operates at a lower signaling rate. By reducing the original signal rate to one-quarter or one-half, the link speed could drop to 2.5 or 5 Gb/s, referred to as 2.5GBASE-T or 5GBASE-T or NBASE-T and MGBASE-T, respectively.  To be able to run over the existing Category 5e and Category 6, the actual spectral bandwidth of the signal is also reduced, which helped lower the cable requirement from Category 6A. Therefore, using the IEEE 802.3bz standard, not only does it not reduce the cost of cabling, but also it can achieve up to five times the data transmission rate.  

 

Pushing Beyond the Limits 

This multi-gigabit Ethernet standards resolve the bandwidth and speed challenges, but the distance limitation was an additional challenge.  Recognized options including adding another telecom room with additional active switches or utilizing a hybrid fiber/copper cable that can greatly extend the distance but will require media conversion at the device end.   Both of these are costly solutions. Paige offers the best solution with GameChanger Cable™, a four-pair UTP cable that does it all – pushes the bandwidth limit to 2.5 Gb/s, doubles the distance, all while safely running 90W of power to the device. GameChanger is a 22 AWG UTP cable that allows those long-distance IP runs without additional electronics.  

 UL, an independent third-party lab,  verified GameChanger’s ability to run data up to 2.5BASE-T  and 90W of PoE out to 200 meters.  UL primarily tests and inspects products primarily test for safety and specification.  GameChanger was tested for specification under two different conditions – server to server and the other utilizing a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) IP-enabled security camera.   GameChanger surpassed four separate tests that included: Test# 1: 1Gb/s connection @ 200 meters; Test# 2: 2.5Gb/s connection @ 200 meters; Test# 3: 10Mb/s connection @ 850 feet; and Test# 4: 802.3bt 90W PoE 1Gb full draw over 200m.

 Earning UL’s verified mark demonstrates that Paige’s performance claim of GameChanger Cable has been verified through an independent repeatable assessment.  It ultimately helps the end user as they have 100% assurance that the specification will match that performance.  Once again, GameChanger is proven as the easiest and most cost-effective way to extend the network past the 100m limit with increased bandwidth and highest PoE with highest performance. 

  • Industry News
  • 04.14.2021

Economic Growing Pains

Economic Growing Pains: Slower Supply Chains, Limited Supply Pointing to Increases in Prices and Lead Times

The world is opening back up and that’s a good thing. However, as elements of our economy open back up it’s not as if we can just pick up where we left off a year or so ago. As commercial and consumer spending shifted around the world, so to did our global supply chain. If you’re reading this blog you’re probably familiar with the historic rally in the Copper commodity market over the last year but what you may not be hearing about is that we’re seeing inflationary pressure across the board.   The major drivers have been grouped into the following categories:

  • Copper (Conductor Material)
  • Compounds (Insulating and Jacketing Material)
  • Logistics (International and Domestic Shipping)
  • Packaging (Lumber and Cardboard)

I’ll share a number of charts that track the prices of each commodity to give you a sense of the dramatic increases we’ve seen over the last year or so. One important thing to keep in mind, these commodity prices represent the material in their raw forms. To transform them into useable materials for wire and cable they must each undergo processes which add to / amplify the increases.

A second important (and confounding) factor putting upward pressure on prices is that none of these factors consider the delays at all US ports of entry (as long as 6 weeks unloading material), or the driver shortage affecting the trucking industry which are contributing factors to a nationwide shortage of these raw materials.

It’s a perfect storm, and it may get worse. From where I sit today, all indications seem to point to continuing increases in prices and lead times.

Charts provided by Trading Economics

Let’s start with copper. For the last couple years, COMEX Copper has traded between $2.50 and $3.00/lb. For reference, the all-time high price topped $4.47 in June of 2011. A few weeks ago, copper climbed as high as $4.34/lb and is currently around $4.19/lb which represents a 100% increase since March 22, 2020. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is just the raw material in its basic bar form. Before it can transmit your signal, the copper is melted down, drawn and rolled into rod which is then drawn down to 9 gauge in the intermediate drawing process and then depending on the wire being made will get a fine drawing to say 23 gauge for Cat6 conductors or for stranded products like speaker wire, it needs to be drawn down to 30 gauge where 65 fine strands get bunched (twisted) together before they can be insulated. Several of these processes could take place in different factories or different parts of the world. All of these steps add to the price of “usable” copper and increases of course are amplified as the raw materials get closer to becoming a final product.

While copper is a major driver of material costs of wire, it’s far from the only factor.  If you’ve ever terminated wire (or really taken a close look at it) you’d see other materials for insulating and jacketing that are made from various types of plastics (yes there are non-plastic materials involved too, but I’m not getting into those here.). Those insulating and jacketing compounds (polyethylene, propylene, etc.) are petroleum based and as Crude prices increase so to do the compound prices.

Resin Prices April 2020 - April 2021
(chart provide by The Plastics Exchange)
In addition to Crude Oil prices having increased increased over 300% in the last year, there are even more critical factors at hand for the resin markets. Back in late February a storm hit Texas and shut down approximately 80% of US resin production. and while most resin reactors have restarted,  most producers remain under force majeure and allocations are intact. The problems in the US don't exist in a vacuum and as such the sector is experiencing “severe shortages of raw materials and [unprecedented] price increases,” according to the European Plastics Converters (EUPC) association. According to the PlasticsExchange, "This Polypropylene environment has been like none other in our 20 years of making spot resin markets."


The end of the manufacturing process also has some surprises for us as well. The cost of lumber is at an all-time high (as of today it’s $1,212 per 1,000 board feet). Wood products (think everything from lumber used to frame your house to wood pulp used for toilet paper to cardboard boxes used to deliver your packages) are all effected and so too are the costs of our reels, boxes and skids used to package and carry your wire.

Logistics costs have been another dramatic source of price increase and limited supply recently. Driver shortages have plagued the trucking industry for a few years now and in addition to rising prices at the pump, trucking companies are having to increase wages to attract more drivers. And as far as International logistics are concerned the problems are even more complicated. Lumber Prices April 2020 - April 2021There’s a shortage of shipping containers that’s partly due to the box makers themselves cutting back on production ahead of the lockdown only to be met with unforeseen demand from US consumers buying all sorts of pandemic-rated goods (think IT equipment to work from home, DIY improvements, PPE, etc.) The result has been that shipments that used to take 4-6 weeks and cost $2,000 are now taking 12-14 weeks and cost $8,000.

If you’re still reading at this point, I think you get the idea. Our global economy is surging in some unexpected ways and the short-term effects have clearly resulted in a slower supply chain with higher prices. I don’t pretend to know when prices will cool off and lead times will return to normal, but if you’re business counts on wire to get the job done, please plan accordingly, I know ours is! 

  • Industry News
  • 04.01.2021

OSDP: The Only Secure Access Control Option

OSDP: The Only Secure Access Control Option

 Access control technology has come a long way from the very first method of  “Knock, knock!”  “Who’s there?” to  becoming an integrated network application within an intelligent building.  In the early 1970’s access control moved to being electronically controlled, but still somewhat siloed with the primary function to create barriers from unauthorized persons.  With the introduction a smartphone in 2007, security moved to being controlled and monitored on a remote device, connected to the Internet. Access control systems included both mechanical and electronic hardware devices from basic physical keys and door locks spanning to advanced access control systems encompassing IP features such as biometrics.  As we return to our places of work, a new purpose of access control is emerging to include promoting wellness of inhabitants in addition to safety. Today almost every commercial and residential building employ some sort of electronic access control system and is a collaboration between IT and physical security.

According to ANSI/BICSI-007-2020 standard, “Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises,” the components of an access control system are classified into the following levels:

  • Level 1 – Central equipment processing, recording, software, and database
  • Level 2 – Controllers for intelligent field processing (e.g., data gathering panel)
  • Level 3 – Peripheral devices (e.g., card reader, lock, door position switch)
  • Level 4 – Credentials (e.g., cards, fobs, biometrics, personal identification numbers [PINs], passwords) 

All of these can be integrated into the data network to provide a complete integrated access control system. Connectivity to edge devices, such as peripheral devices allow sensors to monitor and control passage through entryways. These devices are classified into these categories:

  • Door contacts—used for monitoring an open or closed door.
  • Readers
  • Electrified door hardware
  • Request-to-exit devices (REX)

COVID-19 also seems to be accelerating the shift in access control to become mobile and cloud-based solutions.  However, the merging of physical and logical access control systems still face many challenges that impede the journey to a truly digital infrastructure. Designing and implementing a network-based access control system includes assuring that the installed infrastructure utilizes the most secure cabling with advanced security and IP communication capabilities, in addition to being able to update and integrate with other devices.  

OSDP as the New Gold Standard for Access Control

The Security Industry Association (SIA) industry introduced the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) as the essential standard for access control communications to enable digital access control features with advanced data encryption.

It’s easy to see understand why OSDP has become the security industry’s gold standard replacing old Wiegand-based systems and wiring protocols. Prior to OSDP there was a disconnect between the multiple device components including the readers, hardware, door contacts and controllers. OSDP has advanced functionality and provides a roadmap to future access control devices. 

Wiegand dominated the access control industry for decades but hasn’t kept up to today’s requirements for many critical functions such as secure encryption, which is vital to protect against intercepting transmissions between proximity cards and readers.  Wiegand offers only one-way communication, which becomes vulnerable to “sniffers” and hackers, whereas OSDP has bi-directional communications and supports AES-128 encryption, as used in federal government applications.  This prevents hackers from intercepting data transfers. With bi-direction communication, access control systems are continuously monitored to protect against failed, missing, malfunctioning or tampered readers. OSDP utilizes the RS-485 protocol for the cabling and facilitates longer distances and is more robust to mask interference.

There are even more reasons to make a move to OSDP. Wiegand readers require homerun pulls from the control panel to each peripheral device. OSDP has a concept called “multi-drop” that allows devices to daisy chain directly from the controller to the reader and then to a secondary reader and so on.  This reduces the number of ports on the controller, as well as the number of individual cable runs, saving on cabling and installation time.   OSDP requires as few as two pairs compared to 6-12 (or more) conductors used in Wiegand.  In addition, OSDP works with biometric devices and allows for remote configurations and upgrades, while Wiegand employs time-consuming workarounds. 

Composite OSDP Access Control Cable by Paige

 

Connecting with Paige OSDP Cable

Recently Paige introduced a family of OSDP composite cables for today’s most advanced access control systems utilizing the OSDP protocol. The low-capacitance card reader component allows for distances to extend out to 4,000’ versus being limited to 500’ with Wiegand. In addition, to having fewer wires OSDP leverages the bi-directional communication to allow for simplified remote upgrades and configurations not possible with Wiegand systems. Because these are based on OSDP standards, they can easily integrate with other building systems like video or gunshot detection.   

The Paige OSDP reader cable consists of 2 pairs of 24 AWG stranded bare copper cable with an overall tinned copper shield and a low-smoke PVC plenum-rated jacket. Meeting RS-485 communication protocols this cable is available in 1000’ lengths. 

The composite cable consists of four components that are cabled together with an overall yellow jacket. The cable is rated to a 75°C operating temperature and meets UL-444 plenum rating and is available in lengths of 500’ and 1000’. Cables can be spliced together to extend the distance. The individual cable components are color-coded to allow easy application identification. The components include:

  • Component 1: Reader - Orange inner jacket, shielded with 24 AWG/2 conductors; 
  • Component 2: Contacts - White inner jacket, unshielded with 22 AWG/4 conductors;
  • Component 3: REX/Power - Blue inner jacket, shielded 18 AWG/4 conductors;
  • Component 4 - Lock Power or AUX: Gray inner jacket, unshielded 18 AWG/4 conductors.

If you want to make sure your access control system is integrated into your intelligent building to deliver the highest security capacities, contact Paige: https://www.paigedatacom.com/osdp

 

  • Industry News
  • 02.15.2021

How ANM Transformed an Airport's IT Infrastructure

This case study explains how Advanced Network Management (ANM) simplified the IT infrastructure for an International Airport while reducing costs and eliminating potential points of failure.

The Situation


ANM, an IT consultancy based in Albuquerque, NM was asked to participate in a large security system upgrade project at a major airport in the Western US.

  

ANM’s role was to upgrade the security camera infrastructure of approximately 700 cameras at the airport. Since higher resolution, PTZ cameras were being installed, it would also be necessary to upgrade most of the cabling that supports these new cameras. All the existing IP cameras had been on Cat5 and Cat5E and many of the original cameras at the airport were analog and using coax cabling and copper power conductors.

  

Like most airports, there was an immense, sprawling layout that would require numerous long-distance cable runs. In many cases, the location where the camera was needed would easily exceed the typical Category 6 cable distance of 100 meters to the nearest IDF or network closet. 


The Solution


John Pace, ANM’s Project Manager and his team considered various options for the airport project. The initial plan that was considered would utilize fiber, along with copper conductors to power remote media converters. However, the client’s IT staff preferred not having new devices placed across the facility and Pace said they “did not want to have a scenario where devices could fail out in the field and would have to be located and dealt with by their staff at a later date.”


John Pace then discovered an alternative solution - GameChanger Cable from Paige. And for this installation, it did in fact, prove to be a game changer. 


With GameChanger Cable, ANM found an easy, fast, and cost-effective way to take networking infrastructure beyond the 100-meter limit. With increased gauge size, carefully designed twisting and specialty materials, GameChanger is optimized for long distance Ethernet applications. It is UL verified to deliver 1 Gb/s performance and PoE+ over 200 meters. UL has also verified it to deliver 10 Mb/s over 850 feet.


As John Pace described, “GameChanger turned out to be a very viable cost-effective alternative to running fiber and media converters, in the instances where the cabling requirements exceeded 328 feet for a network drop.” He added, “The GameChanger was a really good option from a cost-effectiveness standpoint and the ability to eliminate any kind of media converters or signal boosters or anything in-line on these cable runs.”


Click to download the full case study

 John Pace shelved the original plan to use fiber as “obviously that was cost prohibitive compared to the GameChanger.” He added, “In addition to the cost factor with the fiber and the media converters, we avoided adding additional points of failure into the system by being able to use GameChanger. So that was a win-win for us and the airport.”

After successfully using GameChanger Cable in the airport, John Pace feels it can be “a perfect fit” for all kinds of other projects, especially those where “their infrastructure is already established, and their budgets are limited.” He sees it as potentially an ideal solution for the numerous projects they do on school campuses, and he says that GameChanger “will be in our arsenal of solutions to these kinds of long-distance problems.” 


About ANM


ANM is ranked by CRN as one of the fastest growing technology solutions providers in the U.S. It specializes in the fastest-growing areas of IT, including enterprise networking, cloud, remote workforce solutions, collaboration, security, cabling, and audio visual. ANM was founded in 1994 and maintains its headquarters in Albuquerque, NM and has additional locations throughout the western United States.  


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  • Industry News
  • 01.05.2021

4 Use Cases for Testing Long Haul Twisted Pair Cabling

4 Use Cases for Testing Long Haul Twisted Pair Cabling

Many cable install professionals are under the false impression that a cable tester only needs to verify twisted pair copper up to -- but not exceeding -- 100 meters (328 feet) in length. While it is true that most two- and four-pair 802.3 Ethernet standards do indeed have a maximum distance limitation at the 100-meter mark, there are plenty of other uses and standards that require a tester to verify proper cable operation well beyond 100 meters. This includes cabling projects for the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT (IIoT) and many surveillance camera deployments over twisted pair copper. In this article, we're going to point out four different real-world use cases where a cable test unit must be capable of validating copper runs up to 1000 meters.

1. Intelligent building control systems

A major part of the IoT movement is to make the buildings we work in smarter. Newly built constructions are receiving intelligent control systems right out of the gate. Older buildings are being retrofitted with similar systems that meter, monitor and automate many building functions. These technologies can be used to better control energy costs of electrical and mechanical systems while also automating previously manual processes. Ultimately, intelligent building controls provide the precise HVAC and lighting/power needs when and where occupants need them while conserving these resources everywhere else. 

The problem is, many intelligent building control system components are dispersed throughout large building campuses. At the same time, they also require constant and fully connected communications. Many leverage the use of serial interfaces over twisted pair copper as a way to allow long haul connections to connect building control components located hundreds or thousands of feet away. Thus, once your business clients begin implementing these types of intelligent systems, expect the need to run and verify twisted-pair cabling well beyond 100 meters.

2. IoT sensors using single pair Ethernet (SPE)


Example 10Base-T1L 1000m (802.3cg) Test

 Example 10Base-T1L 1000m (802.3cg) TestThere are any number of new IoT sensors that are hitting the enterprise market in 2019 and beyond. Examples include sensors that measure temperature, humidity, smoke, pressure, acceleration and chemical levels. Sensors can be used to monitor areas that demand consistent temperature/humidity levels such as in a data center. Other uses are to identify objects/people in proximity to a sensor and send alerts when the object or person moves. Sensors can also be used to rapidly alert building occupants of a dangerous event such as a fire, gas/carbon monoxide/chemical leak or other dangerous environmental situation.


One interesting aspect of these types of sensors is that they typically don’t require even close to 1 Gbps or higher throughput rates that common 802.3 Ethernet data protocols provide. That said, IoT sensor deployments do often require cable runs that extend far beyond common 10/100/1000BASE-T distance limitations of 100 meters. That’s why many are looking at Single pair Ethernet (SPE) for future IoT deployments. SPE is a relatively new standard (IEEE 802.3cg) that allows for cable runs up to 1000 meters using only a single pair of Category 5e cabling or better. Runs can extend this far while also providing data speeds of 10Mbps. 

 Expect IoT sensor manufacturers to begin adopting the SPE standard in their hardware to further increase ease of deployment within large buildings, office campuses or even entire municipalities.

3. Manufacturing and warehouse automation

Manufacturing plants and warehouses are regularly being revamped with the latest in smart assembly lines and robotics. These technologies help to decrease process times, reduce outages, eliminate waste, and increase safety protections. This is often accomplished using intelligent monitoring, augmented reality and advanced analytics. The problem is, all these platforms, sensors and robots must be centrally connected. This often means that twisted pair cabling used to connect these types of systems will far exceed 100 meters. While this has been the case for manufacturing/warehouse environments for years, the need for long cable runs is only going to increase.

4. CCTV deployments

The demand for closed circuit television (CCTV) and other security control and surveillance systems is growing at a rapid rate. The reason for this is the fact that one can now deploy high-quality and high-definition surveillance cameras at a fraction of the cost compared to even a decade ago. Thus, to ensure the safety of employees, partners and guests within a building or campus – as well as to provide insurance policy protections against robberies, thefts and frauds – CCTV is a wise investment. That said, many CCTV cameras must be installed at considerable distances away from the central network. Cameras are often positioned at remote gates and entrances, building outposts and on rooftops. Thus, many manufacturers offer the ability to stream CCTV feeds over twisted pair cabling up to 1000 meters in length.

Is your test equipment capable of verifying operational status of cabling up to 1000 meters?

Cable test equipment manufactures only guarantee their test results up to a certain distance limitation. In many cases, this distance is far below what you might need given today’s demand for long haul twisted pair runs. In order to prepare for the increase in long haul runs, be sure to have test tool like the AEM CV100 which can verify twisted pair runs up to 1 KM in length. The CV100’s standard autotest supports testing twisted-pair cabling up to 600 meters. If you require testing beyond this length, there is a special test mode for cables that range between 500 and 1000 meters.

Long Cable Setting for 500m to 1km Testing

 Showing GamerChanger Cable Type inSetup

 

 













Many field test units on the market today aren’t capable of testing this far. Considering the growing need for building control systems IoT sensors, IIoT and CCTV long cable runs, long haul verification tests are definitely a function of the CV100 test tool that you’ll put to good use.

  • Industry News
  • 12.10.2020

Superspreader for PoE Lighting

Superspreader for PoE Lighting


Powering light through the data IP network using Category cable, instead of hazardous 120V electrical systems is creating a superspreader of PoE technology throughout all buildings and outdoor applications.  With the emergence of smart/intelligent buildings, PoE lighting is on forefront of driving converged building application advancements. LEDs are inherently DC, so installation is greatly simplified by eliminating separate power and control wiring.  And because LEDs require little energy and are powered through Ethernet cables, they easily create a connected system providing many benefits over traditional independent ballast/lamp systems, but can also present new challenges when it comes to the design of the cabling topology.


Many IT players are designing and installing LED PoE-powered lighting systems as part of the intelligent building infrastructure to reap numerous benefits. From commercial office and data center employees to retail shoppers, from hotel guests to patients at a hospital, building occupants are demanding a more customized, comfortable, and smart building experience. Smart and connected LED-based lighting is a key part of the picture with associated control systems which account for HVAC systems, air quality, and more.  Building owners and managers are realizing that the implementation of a PoE lighting system allows numerous energy efficient and sustainability benefits such as: installation savings through low-voltage cabling (vs. electrical products and installation); LED averages 70% more efficient cost savings than fluorescent or HID lamps;  UL924 compliancy which eliminates a separate emergency lighting network;  and can be monitored and scheduled through an integrated management system which also optimizes work space. In addition, without line-voltage connections, light fixtures and sensors can be more easily added, reconfigured and upgraded.


PoE lighting is gaining ground and providing growth opportunities for all IT designers and integrators. According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global PoE LED lighting market will rise from a value of 192.3 million units in 2018 to 544.8 million units by the end of 2026. The forecast period is set from 2019 to 2026 and the market for PoE LED lighting is anticipated to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1%. 


PoE Safety Ratings

With the ratification of IEEE P802.3bt which recognizes 60W (Type 3) and 90W (Type 4) of power (PoE) to run over twisted pair cabling, there is growing concern of excessive heat generation due to additional current (amperage) running through the cable. Bundled cable is especially vulnerable to heat build-up.  As a result, UL created a certification called “LP”  (Limited Power) which includes a test procedure for determining how many amps a conductor can safely accommodate.  Some cable manufacturers have submitted their twisted-pair cables to be tested and earn that rating.  


An alternative to LP cables is to refer to the ampacity chart, which was published by the National Electrical Code® (NEC)  in Section 725 of the 2017 NFPA 70®. This chart is based on allowable amps for  each conductor’s current carrying capacity at 60W or above, and is determined by the cable’s mechanical (operating) temperature, gauge size (AWG) of the conductors and bundle size.  This table is solely based on an ambient temperature of 30° C (86° F).  As expressed in the chart, the larger the AWG, the better performing the cable and the greater the bundles for higher wattage.  Note that a 4-pair cable constructed with 22 AWG conductors, such as the GameChanger Cable™ from Paige Datacom would be recommended as the best choice to safely transmit over 60W and with a maximum bundle size of 192 cables without having to carry the LP rating .


 System Architecture


There are different architecture designs for PoE LED lighting.  PoE lighting systems contain multiple components connected through Ethernet cabling: the PoE switch — the power supply for the PoE lighting systems — provides the needed voltage for the lighting system ; LED luminaires (such as troffers); wall controllers and ceiling sensors.  The wall controllers are wall switches and are usually directly connected to the sensors which sense occupancy, daylight harvesting or ambient temperature.


There are two industry standards that provide well-defined guidelines for the design, planning and installation of PoE LED lighting systems as an integral part of an intelligent building infrastructure — TIA-862-B-2016 Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems and ANSI/BICSI-007-2020 standard, Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises.  These two documents complement each other in the IP cable installation planning of intelligent building applications.  Specific content in the TIA standard provides guidelines for cabling types, topology, design and installation best practices and test procedures for any size building or premise. The BICSI standard leverages the TIA requirements but gets more granular with best practices for planning spaces, topology and media selection for the specific building applications, including a detailed chapter on LED lighting.  In addition, the BICSI standard recognizes that in many instances, the cabling infrastructure and cabling selection of the horizontal cabling may vary as it should be planned to incorporate the deployment of numerous building systems that may utilize an IP network.  In addition, BICSI-007 recognizes that some building systems may require cabling other than balanced twisted-pair or optical fiber because of system and application architecture or manufacturer requirements. In fact, primary decisions for cabling type are often based on manufacturer requirements, signal type, distance and location, power requirement, and longevity of building occupancy.


Depending on the cabling requirements of the lighting manufacturer, the horizontal cable can run in a star topology from the telecommunications room (TR) directly to the lighting (also known as point-to-point).  However, some lighting manufacturers incorporate a node (or a gateway device) where the Ethernet cable runs from the switch (either an endspan in the TR or a midspan within the horizontal run or housed in a zone enclosure) to the node to maximize the usage of each port.  (For more information on zone cabling design, see https://paigedatacom.com/news-article/in-the-zone-cabling-design-for-todays-intelligent-buildings) From the node, the cable can either be a twisted pair construction or even a multi-conductor cable such as an 18 gauge, 2 conductor cable (18/2) which can be daisy-chained.  This is known as a tree topology.

  

(Courtesy of ANSI/BICSI-007-2020)


Spreading the Light


One of the biggest challenges in the cabling design for PoE LED lighting for both Star and Tree topologies are distance considerations from the TR or node to the actual components.  Because these are running on Ethernet cables, the TIA and IEEE standards limit the Category cable runs to 100 meters.  But in many instances the cable runs will need to exceed that distance, such as: 

  • Warehouses that cannot allocate precious square footage for a TR
  • Industrial locations that require unique harsh environment cable and connectivity
  • Outdoor parking lots or garages in a large environment (ie.: hotels, airports education, campuses and healthcare) which require 24/7 lighting
  • Expansive data centers (such as colocation or hyperscale facilities) where square footage costs are at a premium and lighting is an essential utility
  • Outbuildings, such as guard shacks, where a TR or enclosure is not a cost-effective or safe options.


The solution to this constant challenge is installing the GameChanger Cable™ from Paige Datacom, which doubles the distance of a typical Category 6 or 6A cable.  PoE LED lights use very low bandwidth and power which means that the patented GameChanger cable is UL verified to deliver 10 Mb/s up to 850 feet from the switch in the TR to the device or the node.  If using a Star topology, the distance is determined by the voltage drop. (See the GameChanger voltage drop chart).  If the lighting components are daisy chained from a node employing a multi-conductor cable the total cable length is determined by the number of devices, wattage required, voltage drop and, of course, gauge (AWG) size (usually, 12, 16 or 18 AWG).  


The GameChanger is available in different constructions to suit the specific installation environment including indoor unshielded riser or plenum, outdoor direct burial or shielded OSP. For those industrial locations, GameChanger is also available in an ITC-HL Class 1 Division Armored style specifically designed for hazardous locations. See the complete GameChanger cable specifications here.  Many integrators have already seen the light as  GameChanger has all scenarios covered and is becoming the recognized superspreader for delivering power and data to smart lighting systems.


  • Industry News
  • 10.29.2020

Understanding Hazardous Locations and the challenges of monitoring them

Electrical equipment can and does cause explosions in some atmospheres. As cameras and senor capabilities increase, these cameras are being used in more areas than ever.  In the past, one of the limiting factors was placing a camera in a critical area defined as hazardous.   Hazardous areas are environments in which the atmosphere contains, or may possibly contain, flammable or explosive gases and, in the right conditions, may cause a fire or explosion.  The frequency of occurrence determines the level of hazard for a location. The longer the material is present, the greater the risk. These areas present many challenges in terms of where you can place, maintain, and use a sensor. Explosion-protected cameras address some of these concerns and regulations. 

To help define hazardous areas, a rating system was devised for definition of what can be used in a Hazardous Area.  In short, areas that produce a certain level of gas, vapor or liquid that are present in normal operation conditions.  Class/Division/Zone is the classification system set up in the US.  For this discussion we will use the Class I Division I hazardous areas. 

Class I, Division 1: There are three different situations that could exist to classify an area as a Class I, Division 1 location:

1.     Ignitable concentrations of flammable gases or vapors may exist under normal operating conditions.

2.     Ignitable concentrations of such gases or vapors may exist frequently because of repair or maintenance operations or because of leakage.

3.     Breakdown or faulty operation of equipment or processes might release ignitable concentrations of flammable gases or vapors and might also cause simultaneous failure of electric equipment.

The control and monitoring of equipment to ensure sustained processing activity is essential in refineries and industrial plants to control production and operational cost.  Companies are always looking to increase production, drive down the cost of production and improve environmental performance in refineries.  In the past, most of the monitoring relied on individual people walking an area to be the eyes and ears for any problems. Sensors were introduced and embedded in processing areas to monitor vibration, heat, and the like. Verification once a sensor alarmed was confirmed by still having to send in a person to validate the alarm. Cameras today can be the eyes and ears of a human to validate remotely without disruption to process operation or production thus reducing production costs. 

As we investigate a typical oil and processing area, we see the hazardous area and the CID1 with ignitable concentrations present as defined. We also see many process monitoring applications present. Such applications include:

·       Rotating equipment – equipment that could come out of balance triggering a vibration sensor

·       A thermal couple area – areas that could heat up too fast or exceed processing limitations. Many products are developed by mixing and adding chemical at a precise temperature for the chemical reaction to occur properly. I.e. antifreeze 

·       Valves and seals – junction points controlling volume tend to leak and fail. 

·       Settling tanks – used for separations during process. Monitored by thermal couples 

·       Pumps and pumping stations – looking for seal failure and early leaks

·       Piping – miles and miles of pipes can be monitored for leaks and wear or damage 

Using sensors such as visible and thermal cameras can help in monitoring and verify problems in some of these applications, remotely without shutdown or the risk of sending a person in that area. 

Challenges in remote monitoring in hazardous areas

Some challenges in remote monitoring in hazardous areas involve access to equipment for maintenance and reducing failure points.  Shut down for maintenance is costly in lost production.  Unscheduled shutdowns are very costly.  Easy quick installations with reduced crews because of lighter camera systems and no additional equipment needed to boost or extend network signals help reduce production downtime. New cabling solutions like the GameChanger CableTM from Paige, deliver 1Gb/s Ethernet and PoE+ up to 656 feet or 10Mbs/s up to 850 feet reducing costs, simplifying installs and saving money.  By extending the distance limitation with cable alone, installers are also avoiding the need to install (and later service) equipment in remote and hazardous areas, saving money and keeping workers safe.

Preventive maintenance 

Remote monitoring of these applications listed could help establish trend analysis and facilitate predictive maintenance thus allowing intelligent scheduling for preventive maintenance.  Explosion-protected cameras are IP cameras that can be configured remotely, health monitored remotely and rebooted remotely reducing the need for human interaction in the hazardous areas. 

Processing applications

Process capabilities of these cameras have increased significantly in the past several years. The ability to take an unacceptable image and process to get an acceptable usable image has never been more available than today.  These sensors are now a computer with a lens. Users are seeing more in challenging conditions using this technology to verify and confirm before costly intervention.

On the edge analytics

The ability to run multiple event-driven edge analytics reduces bandwidth use lowering costs and automates our monitoring process for implementation of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). Edge based analytics can not only tell you if a person is entering an area that is restricted (safety, security) but can also notify if it see a rise in temperature of a failing component or detect a leaking pipe or emissions. 

New markets and applications  

As we see the cost of explosion-protected cameras go down, we see other verticals opening such as agriculture (processing plants, storage facilities, transportation lines, fuel distribution terminals), chemical (fertilizer plants, chemical facilities) transportation and water treatment facilities all having hazardous areas associated. These verticals also have common applications within their own plants requiring explosion-protected cameras and sensors. Automating critical monitoring not only reduces overall production costs but positions companies for the new digital age to come. 

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