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PoE and Edge Access Control Devices – The Good, the Bad, and the Cautious

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With more and more access control devices residing on a network infrastructure it only seems right that the next logical step is for edge access control devices. You may ask what edge access control devices are. With an edge access control device the control panel resides above the access control door – on the secure side (at the “edge” not in a main control panel room). All of the door components wire to this edge device; the electric lock, the door contact, the request to exit, and the reader. The edge control panels are powered over the PoE Ethernet cable. This same power will also power the card reader, the electric strike, and the request to exit. Edge devices typically come in a single door or sometimes a two door configuration, depending on the manufacturer.

Using PoE (Power over Ethernet) makes cabling to the door simple. Saving you both labor and cabling costs. Using network cabling such as CAT5e or CAT6 also provides some future proofing. Meaning that we don’t know what the future will hold but installing network cable to a door instead of legacy cable types will better allow you to grow with future technologies. Today security industry innovation and technology is being driven by IT standardization and “Commercial Off The Shelf” (COTS) products. Looking at Ethernet cabling for a security project may be the smart choice for the longevity of your security system.

When using Ethernet cable to the door there are some drawbacks. Door hardware selection is the most critical. PoE has power limitations so some electrified devices may be out for this type of solution or may require additional cable for power. Magnetic locks also pose a problem for this type of system. Magnetic locks have special building codes that regulate them. Mag-locks must release in the event of a fire alarm. This means an NFPA approved device must cut power to the magnetic lock (i.e. must be a mechanical relay disconnect not software driven). A second drawback is the cable length limitation. Doors now have to be within 330 feet of a network switch as opposed to the traditional 500 ft. for wiegand readers. This may be an important design feature to consider when laying out the security system.

The best solution may be a mix of traditional panels and PoE edge devices depending on your current layout. Make sure that you have evaluated your choices and that the access control system you select can meet those needs. Many manufacturers offer both a PoE and traditional panel solution within the same software platform. Making sure the system that you select meets your needs as well as national and local building codes.

Using new technology can sometimes be a risk. Before selecting a manufacturer and security company make sure that the product and implementation of the system has been well laid out and makes sense for your security application. Be diligent and do your homework and applying this new system infrastructure to your security system way work out well for you.

Source by Daniel Cogan

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