Power over Ethernet LED Lighting and the Data Center

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Today’s data centers face more demands than ever before. The increasing number of connected devices, along with more data and users, has pushed data center managers to find creative methods to efficiently meet network requirements. While lighting makes up a small percent of a data center’s load, it presents a unique opportunity for addressing energy efficiency.

Use LED and Power over Ethernet for greater efficiency and lower installation costs in your enterprise application.

Data Centers Consume Less Energy as Electricity Consumption Increases

Often referred to as “power hungry” or “energy hogs,” today’s modern data center is actually consuming less energy. According to the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, after a decade of increased energy usage, those requirements “started to plateau in 2010 and has remained steady since, at just under 2 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption,” despite an increase in the number of data centers. Electricity consumption is expected to maintain low growth through 2020 even with the data center server base growing by 40 percent.

Reduced electricity consumption can be attributed to a few factors, including:

  • Efficiencies in cooling
  • Power management software
  • Lighting

LED Lighting: A Clear Candidate for Reducing Energy Consumption

Lighting has traditionally represented only 5 percent of a data center’s power load. However, lighting is an easy energy area to address and can quickly provide ROI for either new construction or retrofits. The Telecommunication Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers recommends LED lighting for efficiency.

When the move is made from conventional AC wiring for powering LED lighting to PoE, the networking component further enhances the benefits. PoE lighting is often estimated to be around 20 percent more efficient than non-PoE LED installations, while also providing lower installation costs on new construction data centers.

Power over Ethernet in the Data Center

PoE lighting is well-suited for the data center space because it is engineered to operate over Ethernet cabling (category cabling) and devices such as a PoE switch. These are two things that are very common to the data center environment. They can create a more streamlined and analogous transition when designing lighting for a greenfield data center or retrofitting an existing data center that has legacy components.

PoE becomes a compelling solution when one considers that a single cable can power the lighting fixture. Because it is networked with a unique IP address, the fixture can also be managed via the lighting controls software. This plays into PoE’s role in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

What You’ll Get From Implementing PoE

What this provides is enhanced efficiency. The networked architecture of the PoE system allows for information to be processed and analyzed. Perhaps the most recognized benefit from this data is the ability to use sensors to turn off the lighting when the room is empty, creating a hybrid “lights out” data center.

Additional PoE benefits include:

  • The ability to alter lighting color to code cabinets and hardware
  • Set organization policies on each fixture
  • Increase employee productivity by minimizing impact on circadian rhythms
  • Lighting pathways to emergency exits

This approach is often extended from the server room into other rooms that may not be regularly populated. Possible use cases include break rooms, bathrooms, training rooms, and storage areas.

PoE and LED: Better Together

While LED provides many benefits on its own, efficiency and cost savings are maximized when LED is controlled through PoE. Manage your power and lighting through a single cable for smart lighting that has never been simpler.

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Hubbell's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.