New technology = new dangers.

April 21, 2019

New technology = new dangers.

Most people have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a fancy way of describing the fact that our phones, cars, televisions, fridges, light switches and more are – or soon will be – connected to each other and the internet, and sending data back and forth at a furious rate.

It’s all very convenient, but few of us have ever stopped to think about what this marriage between energy and communications systems means to power consumption and delivery. IoT devices require a cable that combines communication and power in a twisted pair, which means more energy – and therefore heat – running through the pair. For the first time we are seeing 100 watts or more delivered by Ethernet (Power over Ethernet or PoE) in generic cabling.

New Standards and classifications to apply.

The situation is changing almost faster than the regulatory system can keep up, but there have been changes to several Standards and classifications to deal with issues such as heat rise generated by higher current flow.

For a start, there are three new Energy Source (ES) classifications, as follows:

  • ES1 = safe for the ‘ordinary person’ to touch.
  • ES2 = higher touch current or touch voltage levels require basic safeguards. 100 watt Power over Ethernet cables would fall under this classification.
  • ES3 = with no voltage and no circuit current limits, ES3 cabling is classed as being hazardous, and demands basic and additional safeguards to protect ‘ordinary persons’.

There are also changes to several AS/NZS and ISO/IEC standards, but there is also a need for the person ordering, installing and managing cables to understand and allow for the factors that can cause heat rise in a cable bundle.

Heat rise can cause fires, so it is essential that its potential and presence is accurately accounted for.

The bottom line – work with a professional you trust.

If you’re considering upgrading cabling or installing IoT devices, either at home or in offices, retail and commercial situations such as shopping centres and showrooms, or in industrial settings, you need to talk to a qualified professional.

Any ES2 or ES3 source should be planned and installed by people with the experience and understanding of the cables, the energy running through them, the environment and conditions (e.g. open air, sealed conduit, presence of insulation), and the suitability of the cabling for the job.

PRF Electrical have the experience, and we stay completely up to date on all relevant regulatory Standards and classifications, and we can help you get the right performance from your cabling while minimising the risk of heat rise and other hazards.

To find out more, and to discuss your cabling needs with an expert, contact us and we’ll help you understand what needs to be done, and how.

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