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Cable Length for POE Security Cameras: What You Need to Know

PoE cables offer convenient installation for your security camera system. If you are designing a new system or revamping your old one, PoE security camera cables can be a great option depending on your needs. 

PoE cables are an excellent solution if you’re looking for the convenience provided by an ethernet-based system without the need for dedicated power cables. More importantly, PoE cables are user-friendly and familiar.

Length is a limitation of PoE cables, however. Without an extender, they commonly max out at 300ft. Before considering if PoE is right for you, first review what you need from your cable choice. While PoE may seem like a great choice, it has its drawbacks and may not be right for your build. 

What Does PoE Mean?

Power over Ethernet switch on a white background

The acronym, PoE, stands for “power over ethernet.” These are security camera cables that are Cat5 combined with a PoE system to carry both information and power through only one cable. This offers an all-in-one cable to connect cameras to a central system. If you’re unsure how to connect cameras to a central system, we have an entire article on it.

One of the main advantages of PoE cables is the ease of installation. With other cables, like RG59 cables, you need to run a separate line for power for each camera. This can add time and headache when you are pulling for a whole system.

PoE systems are based on a PoE NVR (Network Video Recorder). This is an integral component of the equipment because, without a PoE NVR, your cables won’t transmit power without an adapter. So if you’re looking into PoE cables, you’ll want to consider purchasing a PoE NVR. The ReoLink PoE NVR (on Amazon) is a great all-around choice for your PoE system.

PoE Cable Componants

Since the cables needed for a PoE system are ethernet cables, it means you can easily splice or connect them through a coupler to customize the length to your needs. Grab a coupler here on Amazon. If you are trying to manage your cable size and organize your system, PoE cables can allow you to cut the right length of cable for all of your needs. 

While all ethernet cables can be used in PoE applications, there are a few things to consider before using just any Cat5/Cat6 ethernet cable.

  • Conductor Size – Be aware of conductor size when choosing cables. Generally speaking, cables with larger conductors significantly reduce conductor resistance. Less conductor resistance means less heat generated by the cables. This is important when transferring power over distances. 
  • Copper Core – Another factor you should be aware of when purchasing cables is the type of wire used. For optimum data and power transfer, consider sourcing pure copper core cables. Having a pure copper core wire will help against the degradation of the signal. 
  • Cable Material – When transferring power, you generate heat. Some cables are rated for heat. Consider that when your cables get too hot, they start to diminish their transferring properties. Source quality cables that will provide the best heat rating for your needs.

Types of PoE Cable

Multiple Colored Ethernet Cables Lined Up - Smaller

There is quite a bit to consider when figuring out what type of cable you will need to purchase. For the best quality of video in your system and prevent problems down the road, consider how much power you will need for your cameras. There are four power ratings for PoE equipment.

These are:

  • PoE Type 1
  • PoE Type 2, also known as PoE+
  • PoE Type 3
  • PoE Type 4, also known and High Power PoE

Each class of PoE carries its IEEE standard power rating. Each type offers different levels of power to the port. This means that specific cables are designed for more power-intensive equipment. Look at the types of cameras you are going to use. Are they IP or PTZ? This will help determine what kind of cable to use.

When buying cable, try finding ethernet cables that are rated for PoE use. The trueCABLE Cat6 Shielded Riser is a great all-around choice if you are looking for quality PoE cables. You can check the price here on Amazon.

If you are not using a PoE NVR but still want to use PoE, consider using a PoE Injector to help solve this problem. You can find one here. These devices require constant power through an adapter to function, so take this into account before using them in your system.

The one main drawback of the PoE system is that the cables start to degrade the data quality once they hit a certain length, meaning it is possible to run PoE cable too far.

Length Limitations for PoE Cable

Yellow Ethernet Cable - Smaller

One thing to consider before looking into a PoE system is the length of cable you will need to be using. Every cable has limitations when it comes to length, and PoE is no exception. Because they are essentially ethernet cables, they are limited to around 300ft. This is the industry standard when dealing with Cat5 or Cat6 ethernet cables. 

After this point, you will start to see degradation of your video quality, not necessarily the power. This means that the issue is not with PoE systems but with the ethernet cables’ inherent limitations. So, regardless of whether you use PoE or not, ethernet cables will always carry these length limitations.

What happens after 300ft is that the wires carrying information start to have trouble maintaining the signal. Believe it or not, there are always frictional losses along a copper wire. When you get past the 300ft mark, though, is when it starts to become an issue.

If you are splicing a cable or using a coupler, the length limitations still apply. The only way to increase length without losing video quality is to use a PoE extender. Devices like the Cudy POE15 (on Amazon) offer a great solution to the problem of extending your cables, and they’re reasonably priced.

PoE extenders can extend your cables up to 900ft. These devices are plug and play, meaning installation is quickly done. Another factor in using these extenders, especially with the right type of cable, is that they’re designed for outdoor use. They are waterproof and outdoor tested. 

PoE as a Useful Tool For Your System

PoE is incredibly useful and convenient. It can offer you a pain-free installation with little cable mess to deal with. The advantage of using just one cable to transfer information and power means you only have to pull one cable, not multiple. This can save time and money in the long run.

Although there are some length limitations to PoE, there will be length limitations for any system. When considering if PoE is right for you, always measure your cable runs ahead of time and plan accordingly. In reality, most home systems will not exceed the 300ft cut-off, so this might not even be an issue for you. 

PoE is excellent for minimizing your installation burden; it can also provide an easy option for extending your system. If you add more cameras, it’s as easy as plugging in the one end of the ethernet cable into the NVR and the other into the camera. This means that you can easily add cameras to your system with little hassle. 

PoE cables can provide a lot of convenience to your security camera system. While length is an issue with PoE cables, the industry standard of 300ft is more than adequate for most usages. PoE can provide you an all-in-one cable solution that will pay off down the road, especially when adding new cameras to your network. 

If you are considering PoE, you are also adopting the new standard. If you want your system to be somewhat future resistant, PoE can be a great option that will not need replacing any time soon.