PoE and DLVP: Comparing Power Distribution Systems for Lighting and Controls

The invention of the LED has left an indelible mark on not only lighting but also building power systems. Aggressive market adoption of LED lighting and falling prices have enabled greater use of control systems in every lighting market segment. In turn, the integration of control systems with LED lighting has created an upsurge of low-voltage devices in the ceiling.

Today, many fundamental devices – from phones and tablets to computers and monitors – require low voltage direct current (DC) power. Yet the building electric power infrastructure is still alternating current (AC) line voltage, spurring a widespread effort to identify alternatives.

Here, Chris Andrews, an expert in low voltage lighting and control systems with Eaton’s Lighting Division, shares two low-voltage alternatives to AC line voltage power with overlay control systems. Each has the potential to revolutionize lighting and controls.

What are low-voltage alternatives to AC line voltage?

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a software- based system that passes power and data over the same cable in a standardized way, harmonizing building control systems. This centralized architecture creates a “digital ceiling” useful for data communications and provides low voltage DC power to network end devices. The utilization of Cisco’s IT infrastructure allows multiple systems – from computers, phones, and lighting to HVAC and security – to be converged and controlled from the web, creating a single, connected environment.

Distributed Low Voltage Power (DLVP), like PoE, is a standardized system for providing power and communications over a standard, connected cable. Each is based on the same Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) and National Electric Code (NEC) requirements for Class 2 low voltage; however, DLVP blends the benefits of AC line voltage and DC low voltage distribution to maximize electrical efficiency and minimize installation and commissioning costs.

Which system do you need?

PoE and DLVP share many components and functions, but they’re different systems. That’s why it’s important to do a full evaluation.

Are you a facility owner or IT administrator? Do you want to integrate a single facility or do you operate a global facility? Are you interested in advanced analytics, such as space utilization? Maybe you want to know if your third-floor conference room is ever used or if you could be using the space in a better way. Perhaps you want to save money by leaving the HVAC system turned off until people enter a space. If you want this kind of control and have the ability to manage it, then PoE could be a great option for you.

PoE is a natural fit in applications where data network integration is expected. It’s an excellent choice for high-technology campuses, such as data centers, as well as some office, education, or healthcare applications.

The PoE user understands and appreciates a data network infrastructure designed to process analytics, optimize space utilization, and control all aspects of an entire facility over one system.

On the other hand, DLVP technology was designed for simplicity. In fact, DLVP is so simple to configure that it can be plug-and-play commissioned at the time of installation by the same contractor.

Yet DLVP offers a lot of the same benefits of PoE. Like PoE, DLVP offers addressability, code compliance benefits, and a reduction in power source installation labor and materials. In addition, it may be reconfigured at any time without a system rewiring.

DLVP’s value is in its simplicity and flexibility. It was consciously developed to be simple, and it’s great for applications with repeated spaces, like schools that have 40 classrooms with matching configurations. Eaton’s DLVP system reduces the total installed cost of an LED lighting and controls project