Matthias Gerber, market manager LAN Cabling Reichle & De-Massari, looks at how to make an effective significant saving with Single Pair Ethernet.

The Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) standard can help introduce significant cost savings and easier installation in bulding automation and management. Everything from access management, fire safety and lighting to HVAC, communications and security rely on some kind of Ethernet-based connectivity, and the related devices need to be powered. SPE allows power and data to be presented together on one single twisted wire pair (Power Over Data Line or PODL). SPE, based on xBASE-T1 protocols, will become a key technology in smart buildings. Thin cables with miniaturized connectors make it possible to significantly increase terminal equipment connection density. Compared to traditional Ethernet cabling, this approach offers a significantly higher number of connection points. SPE works with 10BASE-T1 to 1000BASE-T1, offers 15-1,000 meter link ranges at Gbit/s transmission rates, and can supply terminal equipment with up to 50 watts.

Interest in SPE is growing as the wide range of possible use cases in buildings and industrial applications is increasingly widely recognised. The IEEE802.3cg application standard has opened the door to widespread use of SPE in building automation. SPE will become a key technology in smart buildings, allowing connection of devices to sensors and actuators via standard Internet protocol (IP). SPE is a potential replacement for existing field bus systems. Ethernet/IP transmits large quantities of (complex) data faster than field bus systems, allowing the collection and distribution of data from the entire network. SPE enables fast data transfer by avoiding protocol conversions. It also supports integration of Internet of Things (IoT) functionality into the LAN. It’s important to realize that high data rates are not essential tor IoT or OT networks - it is more important to reliably cable the numerous sensors, actuators, and terminal equipment, often in harsh and cramped environments. Classic copper data cables and RJ45 connectors are theoretically suitable, but often are too large. They would quickly reach their capacity limitations with an increasing number of sensors in building networks.

Everything over IP

The networking landscape is becoming increasingly standardized and unified, with IP as a common medium for previously disparate systems. Being able to use uniform, manufacturer-independent connectivity and transmission protocols, makes installation and maintenance easier, increases the number of connection points, and reduces material and operation costs. Smart, converged networks support energy-saving technologies and applications, such as intelligent management of building spaces, resources and lighting. Ewthernet connections with PoE can power and address building automation devices via individual IP addresses throughout buildings. SPE can complement existing Digital Ceiling installations, which extend the data network through an entire building’s ceiling, and cover the last meters in a high density ALL-IP environment.

Introduction of smart, converged networks means energy-conserving technologies and applications can be introduced, such as intelligent management of building space and resources. With SPE, PoDL (Power over Data Line) can power LED lighting throughout entire buildings, and each LED can be addressed via its own IP address. Infrastructure companies can integrate more devices in their systems, leveraging the benefits of a unified network.

After SPE cleared decisive standardization hurdles in 2020, the broad market launch of SPE solutions is now starting. However, when specifying an SPE solution, it’s important to make informed choices regarding connectors and factor in distances. We’ve seen that LC-Cu according IEC 63171-1 appears to be the connector system of choice for structured cabling systems and building automation. In areas with harsher environments, a connector according IEC 63171-2 with its full metal but very compact housing is often considered an appropriate choice. Using Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) to replace the traditional field bus can help realize high connection density required for the networks of today and tomorrow, and makes installation faster, easier and more secure.

Separate Box

The Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) System Alliance is an open association of leading technology companies from various industries and application fields. Alliance partners are bundling and exchanging SPE know-how in a goal-oriented way to jointly promote Single Pair Ethernet for IoT and IIoT.​ New companies are welcome and participation is encouraged! You can find a contacy form on the Single Pair Ethernet System Alliance website. Based on the submitted application form alliance members will vote on accepting a new member.