IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Zyxel NebulaFlex PoE Switches

These switches offer reliable performance with flexible PoE support and free basic cloud management. By James E. Gaskin

IF IT SEEMS LIKE network devices are getting smaller and you never have enough Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports, you are correct. Cameras, sensors, Wi-Fi access points, phones, office lighting (yes), and more need both wired network access and power. While desk phones are close to power plugs, cameras, access points, and sensors rarely are. The problem compounds as you require more network drops with PoE as well as more network segmentation and control. That’s when you look for intelligent PoE switches like the Zyxel GS1920 or XGS1930.

Many Internet of Things (IoT) devices can run on PoE (802.3af provides a max of 15.5 W, with about 12.95 W draw at the end device), such as the aforementioned IP phones (without video). The GS1920 and XGS1930 NebulaFlex switch families use the newer and hotter 802.3at PoE+ standard that delivers a max of 30 W (25.5 W to the end device). This more powerful standard can power IoT devices such as RFID readers, pan/tilt/zoom IP-based security cameras, alarm systems, and IP phones with video. Many of the newer IP-based LED lights draw more power than 13 W. For example, a listing of different Philips LuxSpace LED PoE lights demand wattage from 8.7 to 20 W. Switches with only 15 W per port can’t power all these lights.

Installation and Configuration

As with other switches, plugging the GS1920-24HPv2 into a router that’s also a DHCP server gave us a working network immediately. Each port automatically provides PoE power if the end device needs it, but causes no problems with non-PoE devices. Port speeds go from 10 to 100 Mbps and to 1 Gigabit Ethernet. The GS1920 supports four SFP (mini-GBIC) optical network connections as well as four RJ45 Ethernet uplink ports, while the XGS1930 offers SFP+ optical ports only for uplinks. The 1920 handles 56 Gbps switching capacity and the 1930 handles 128 Gbps.

There’s a page and a half of networking and manageability protocols supported, from multiple spanning trees to traffic control VLANs to MIB to SNMP and more. One of the best practices with IoT installations is to keep those devices on a separate network, and switches like these make that segmentation simple.

Configuration choices abound. You can, of course, connect to the switch’s browser-based admin screens. Plug a computer into the switch, dial in the IP address, and open a clean and complete admin application.

How detailed are your switch requirements? The “Basic Setting” option could be all you ever need. Here you set Priority Queue Assignments, VLAN Type (802.1Q or port based), IP addresses, Port Setup (or leave them all Auto-1000M), and PoE Setup.

The switch provides a total of 375 W to attached PoE devices. If you support, say, 24 Zyxel Access Points for your Wi-Fi network, those follow the 802.3af unofficial standard of 15.5 W each. For the 24 PoE ports on the model tested, you get a total of 372 W. That’s too close for comfort to the switch’s maximum for some, but you may feel comfortable running at the edge.

About the Author

James E. Gaskin's picture

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

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