For many security-system integrators the choice of which network switch to use in an application is often not as carefully chosen as the camera or access control reader they have selected. Given the wide range of available network switches in the market, and across an equally wide price range, this should not be surprising. Most often, the source for network switches comes from the traditional IT market space, where the term ‘field-hardened’ or ‘industrial rated’ is not often encountered.
Aside from natural electrical phenomena, it’s rare to find a CCTV camera of reputable make failing in the field (or even indoors) due to environmental conditions, especially temperature related. So therefore a network switch should survive in the same space, not so?
Unlike a standard off-the-shelf network switch, the electronic components within standard CCTV cameras can tolerate a fairly wide temperature range, and even a wide voltage range in most cases. Commercial network switches are primarily designed to operate within system racks, and within an air-conditioned environment, whereas CCTV cameras and associated field equipment are to be found ‘in the field’, on mounting poles, along fence perimeters, inside field enclosures and so on.
These are obviously industrial field conditions (outdoors in the sun and rain), and where the necessary network switches need to be placed in field-enclosures. You only have to imagine how hot a motor vehicle gets inside when left in the sun to get an understanding of what temperatures are experienced in field-enclosures. With all the other electronic equipment inside, it gets hot.
The field-hardened or industrial rated switch
It would be prudent to state at this point that these network switch types are going to cost a little more than what you would get off-the-shelf at ABC IT Supplies, but they are going to be application specific and they are going to last. Most importantly, your system integrity is assured.
Here are some of the typical features that are found in these products:
• Wide operating average temperatures of between -40°C and 70°C with passive cooling.
• Designed for optimum and efficient transmission of video Ethernet data.
• Designed for Power Over Ethernet (POE) requirements (in some cases up to 60 W).
• Power redundancy allowance for backup systems.
• Various standard industrial mounting options (DIN-rail, wall-mount etc.).
• Vibration hardened.
• Surge protection and EMI shielded.
• Utility rated design (power and transport utility approved).
• Simple field configuration using DIP switches instead of a laptop.
• Extended warranty and support.
There are many more features to be found on these products, and it varies between manufacturers, but they are all designed to be purpose specific to the application and to last in the field for the lifespan of the system.
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