POE stands for Power Over Ethernet.
A POE Switch is a switch with POE ports. There are so many different types of POE switches ranging with some having a few POE ports to all POE ports. Further, there are several types of POE power. There is POE, POE+, POE++ Type 3 and POE++ Type 4 which can be explained in our article about POE Injectors [HERE]. Then there is managed and unmanaged which we will discuss more later.
Make sure the manufacture your buying from is reputable and has good customer support! This is sometimes overlooked as prices for these switches vary. Be careful an pay close attention to this article. Ive been buying switches for 35 years and the company who makes the switch matters. They do go bad from time to time. A few good names of manufacturers are Luxul, Netgear, Cisco. I am not saing these are the best. What I am saying is that I use these regularly. When I every had a problem with something they normally would just RMA the product if it was defective.
Managed or unmanaged? Well, I can write an entire article on this but to keep it simple unmanaged is the easiest to work with. Its plug and play. In most home environments this is the way to go unless your doing some A/V with Sonos and other sound devices you will then want to have managed. Managed is also plug and play, however you can managed each port in a multitude of ways. Really, this is going to be based on the type of network your setting up. Its very nice to be able to turn a port on and off when needed. This can reboot an access point or a camera. It is also nice to see the protocol stack and the bandwidth each port is using. It is really limitless to what manufacturers have added to managed switches these days. Sometimes takes a day to figure out the GUI! The kicker is that they are all different. Each manufacturer has their own way of laying things out for you. Some easier than others. Keep in mind there is going to be a huge learning curve if you are not familiar with managed switches if your doing this yourself. IF not let AVN take care of this for you as we prepare every network on “paper” before deployment.
How many ports will you need? Again, mapping out your network is critical before you begin buying anything or let the pros at AVN take care of this for you. You will need to know how many devices are going to be in your rack, how many devices will be connected to the switch and so on.
Is your switch going to power any devices? If so you will need a POE switch. You will also need to know the power requirements for said equipment. Some devices like the Netgear WAX630e needs to have 60w+ of power. This would mean you will need a poe++ Type 3 switch or Type 4 which has up to 90w of power which is better explained in this article [HERE]. How many of these devices will you be powering? POE and Speed I believe go hand in hand because as our next tip, speed you will see that the newer, more powerful devices require more power but also require more speed.
SPEED! Normally these days you will see gigabit switches. Eh. This is old news….. IF your connecting to a WiFi 6e Access Point like the Netgear WAX630e you will need 2.5Gbs. Yes 2500 Megabits per second. Pretty fast for Wifi! OF course your Modem and connection to your ISP will need to be greater than 1Gbs which I have not seen too much in homes. Again, getting back to the idea of mapping out your network is critical. AVN does this all day long and knows all about this if this becomes daunting. Some very nice switches like the Netgear MS510TXUP has 6 2.5Gbs POE++ ports on it which we power our Netgear WAX630e’s. Other switches will have different configurations. They will also have different management software as well.
Uplink ports and stack ability. IF you use the same manufacturer for example Luxul, which has fiber optic up link ports to stack another similar type switch to the original switch for expansion. These are generally 50 or 100 Gigabit but proprietary. This will allow you to add more ports as your network expands but keep the speed of your network at peak performance. IF you do not have these up link ports you will not be able to keep your performance as when you connect your switch to another switch and use a gigabit or 2.5 gigabit port, your entire other switch will be capped at that bandwidth. Netgear, Cisco, Watchguard, Dell and most other have this ability to stack their switches to one another using this stacking ability. You will not be able to use these specialized ports to stack say a Netgear switch to a Luxul switch. I know I am repeating myself, but its very important you understand how networking in general works. Being a network engineer I understand this and I hope I am able to articulate the necessity to get proper help from AVN Advisors when getting ready to set up a network!
SECURITY! Did you think I missed it? Well I have it last on the list because in most cases security is done by the router or firewall, however there are instances where keeping the same manufacturer you will be able to –manage- these security settings on the switch as well as the firewall device to pass through to the device connected to said switch.
To Rack Mount or Not to Rack Mount, this is the question. Putting your equipment in a rack mount system is key. Its secure and clean. Wiring is a breeze and has symmetry. If you are buying a switch to power many different devices you should at least have a mini rack mount to put your equipment in with a nice UPS to keep the power clean and uninterrupted. Wiring can all be done from the back so you don’t see any wiring through the front. Nice and clean is the goal.
In conclusion these tips are very important to understand in buying a switch. AVN uses the Netgear MS510TXUP and is extremely happy with it. We install it at customer sites as it has the management software built in so we can remote manage customer sites with ease. It gives us critical information when needed. When any client device is down or is having a problem we get notified immediately and are able to diagnose the problem quickly keeping our customers operational with minimal down time. If buying for the first time, beware. There is much more that goes into your network depending on the devices that are on your network. All these devices that you want to put on your network and may put on in the future matter. Everything must “talk” to each other without error.