We are getting lots of questions about the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code and its impact on Power over Ethernet. We have answers … and for the most part, it is good news! Here are some of the most common questions we’re getting around the NEC and PoE.
First off, let’s define this alphabet soup we’re talking about.
NEC = National Electric Code. Specifically, we’re addressing the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code.
PoE = Power over Ethernet. For the most part, we are addressing next-generation PoE, or the pending IEEE 802.3bt standard, which will introduce PoE running over all four pairs of an Ethernet cable. This is commonly referred to as PoE++ or 4PPoE. The 802.3bt standard further breaks PoE++ into two types based on power at the source: Type 3 (up to 60W) and Type 4 (up to 99W). (Note: The IEEE 802.3bt standard is expected to be ratified in early 2018.)
LP = Limited Power, a new UL listing for copper cables.
Does the NEC impact all PoE installations?
No. Most installations will not be affected by the new rules. The 2017 NEC addresses only those systems with power levels above 60W, which is the pending Type 4 PoE++. Existing installations of PoE and PoE+, and the pending Type 3 PoE++ are not affected by the 2017 changes to the NEC.
Am I required to use LP cables now?
Again, no. The NEC itself says LP is not required to run Power over Ethernet. However, if you use LP listed cables, it can simplify the installation and inspection of the project.
How can an LP listing make installation simpler?
It’s all about bundling and inspection. With a Type 4 installation, you have two choices: use LP cables or not.
If you use LP listed cables, you don’t have to worry about bundle sizes or inspections.
If you don’t use LP cables, you must follow the NEC’s ampacity table to determine bundle sizes. The installation then is subject to inspection to ensure compliance with the ampacity table bundle sizes. You can find the ampacity table in our recently published technology brief, Impact of 2017 National Electric Code on Power over Ethernet Cabling.
How will inspections happen?
This is where it gets fuzzy. Today, the NEC is adopted primarily at the state level, although in some states, it is adopted and enforced by local jurisdictions. And, state adoption and enforcement varies. While most states today are following the 2014 NEC, some are still following 2011, and a handful still follow 2008. It is unclear how inspections will occur.
What parts of the cabling system need the LP listing?
Permanently installed cable is the only component that requires an LP listing. It does not apply to patch cords.
Do I need to be concerned about fire hazards with higher rated PoE?
No. As long as the installation follows standards for installation, including proper bundling sizes, Power over Ethernet doesn’t pose a life safety threat.
To wrap it all up, the highlights to leave with:
- The only affected systems are those running Type 4 PoE++
- LP is not required, even for Type 4 PoE++
- If you don’t use LP cables for Type 4, the installation will have bundle limits and will be subject to inspection
- Life Safety is NOT an issue with Power over Ethernet
- Panduit can help! Our most common Cat 6 and Cat 6A cables carry an LP rating, including our MaTriX offering, which handles Power over Ethernet better than any other cable on the market.