Frequently Asked Questions about the uLAN

Part 3 in our 3-part uLAN series

520132106-stack-of-game-cards-with-question-mark_FAQAs I mentioned in the first and second posts of this series, Berk-Tek hosted a webinar last month, where we introduced our uLAN solution for making the smart building simple.

We had a lot of interested viewers who asked some pretty great questions. The answers to those questions are below…

Can I use regular Cat 5e for smart lighting?

It’s not recommended. Even though your lighting doesn’t require a high-speed data connection, the PoE becomes a challenge. Remember that Cat 5e came about in the 1990’s, before PoE was even a thing. And when the first standard was passed, PoE allowed for 15W. Now with 802.3bt, we’re up to 90W. Most Cat 5e cables aren’t built to hold up to all that power and heat rise. That’s why we recommend – if you’re going Cat 5e – to go with a cable like LANmark-IP that’s specially designed to get the heat out.

Can the whole system operate under Cat 6 cabling?

Yes, Cat 6 will work, but it’s a matter of how well it works.  If large bundles will be the norm (>92 cables), and most will be energized with PoE, you need to consider the heat rise.  LANmark-IP is a 1Gbps cable with 22AWG conductors, which Berk-Tek has designed to support cable bundles of up to 720 cables with each cable energized to 100W.  For 10X the bandwidth for less than 2X the price, you could move to LANmark-XTP. It’s a 10Gbps cable with a discontinuous shield, so it doesn’t need to be grounded (UTP), and the shield acts as heat sync to efficiently dissipate heat. This cable will also support max bundles of 720 cables each with 100W.

Has the API been scanned through GSA IT (gov)?

(Author’s note: this question is asking about the open API technology available with Cree’s SmartCast software)

SmartCast (both PoE and wireless) is an approved technology, but IT approval for the API is done through an entirely different channel specific to the government entity. Cree Lighting hasn’t rolled out the API to any federal or state government customers, but would go down the approval path if a specific opportunity arose.  Connected systems (includes API and BACnet integration) have been implemented at a number of major defense suppliers, so Cree went through a rigorous approval process for those partners before anything was allowed to touch their network.

With the Cree system, do I need the SmartCast link to run it?

No. You can connect your system to your IP network, commission it, and run it with automated controls and analytics…without the Smartcast link. What that allows you to do is get your lighting system talking to your other building systems. Your HVAC system, for example: If you want your lighting sensors to tell your HVAC when to turn on and off, you’ll need Smartcast link’s open API to connect the two systems together.

May we use any managed switch?

You need a switch with at least 60W per-port capability to drive the larger light fixtures. We recommended the Transition Networks PoE++ switch because it offers the right balance of cost-effectiveness (25% less expensive than a Tier 1 switch), with PoE performance, tech support, warranty, easy-to-use software, etc.

For more information on the uLAN solution we’re offering in conjunction with Cree Lighting and Transition Networks, check out our resource page.

If you missed the webinar, you can still view the recorded version.