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Single Pair Ethernet: Data and Power for the Future

Sep 2023
Enterprise Industrial Network Network Infrastructure Smart Buildings
Exterior of high-rise buildings with icons overlaid indicating smart building devices that can be connected and powered using single pair ethernet

As more and more smart building devices are connecting to the network, there is a growing need for ways to connect those devices further from the network switch. Security cameras, access control systems, sensors, and wireless devices are placed where they are needed, and those sites are frequently not within the 100-meter standard distance of the nearest telco closet. These conditions drive the need for standardized, extended-reach solutions to connect and power these remote devices.

Today, there are several options for extending reach to remote devices: optical cable, Power over Ethernet extenders, auxiliary power, media converters, and others. These options are ad hoc, following different protocols and having different results – some more successful than others.

Diagram that shows how standard multi-pair ethernet is used to connect a device that is more than 100 meters from the switch.

Single Pair Ethernet to the Rescue

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a new standards-based technology that can meet this growing demand. SPE provides standardized network equipment, cabling infrastructure, and field test equipment – at distances up to at least 1,000 meters.

Within building spaces and smart buildings, SPE has great potential. ANSI/TIA-568 provides the standards guidance for telecommunications within buildings, including an addendum that standardized balanced SPE. This addendum covers implementation of 10BASE-T1L Single Pair Ethernet, enabling distances of 400 meters to 1,000 meters, which makes it possible to connect and power remote sensors and devices that support smart building systems.

SPE allows for Power over Data Line (PoDL) power delivery and up to 10 Mb/s bandwidth over channels up to at least 1,000 meters in length and supports standards in development for 100 Mb/s bandwidths at shorter channel lengths.

Diagram that shows the distance single pair ethernet can be used to power devices, compared to standard multi-pair ethernet

These capabilities will drive Ethernet convergence in the following applications:

•      Process automation sensors and valves

•      Logistics automation VFDs and conveyors

•      Upgrades from analog to intelligent sensors

•      Building automation upgrades to BACnet/IP

Battery-Less Future

One of the benefits of powering sensors and devices via Single Pair Ethernet is eliminating the need for batteries in sensors and other remote devices. For a sensor network reliant on battery-powered sensors, it is estimated that over time, 30 percent of non-mission critical sensors will be down at any given time. This is because of the magnitude and difficulty of replacing batteries as they fail. In a Panduit white paper on the value of operating a wired and wireless network, we found that in a 1 million square foot facility, it would require three to five hours of maintenance daily just to change sensor batteries, once those batteries started failing.

Powering sensors via SPE means the sensors will remain functional, making them more effective at a lower maintenance cost. In addition, since SPE links deliver power to the connected devices, it is possible to implement network UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) systems to avoid network outages

But, is SPE Available Today?

Panduit is among a handful of companies that have had SPE cable and connectors available for a few years now, with not a lot to connect. Today, 10BASE-T1L adapters and switches are starting to appear in the market, making it possible to connect things like people counters, occupancy sensors, and environmental sensors. Interest in deploying these devices is increasing rapidly as businesses seek to make their buildings “healthier.”

Our reliable, high-performance SPE cabling and connectors meet industry standards and can be used today to replace legacy serial controls in building automation applications, delivering data and power to the edge of the network. Standards bodies like ODVA, PROFINET International, and ASHRAE have developed standards that begin migrating legacy protocols to IP-based technologies that use an Ethernet-based physical layer.

The Panduit SPE solution includes cables in 23 AWG and 18 AWG, along with an IP-20 connector and an M8-style connector.

Validating Single Pair Communications Networks

Single Pair Ethernet is another form of the Ethernet used elsewhere in the building networks and can be tested and commissioned using accepted practices in place for multipair Ethernet networks. Testing single-pair networks provides numerous benefits to end users, whether those single-pair communication networks are used in building or industrial automation, and whether those networks are used to communicate over the Internet Protocol stack or using serial fieldbus communications.

All communication network applications – whether Ethernet, fieldbus, or analog – require electrical signals transmitted across the cabling to reach the receiver without unacceptable loss of signal strength or experiencing too much noise. If the signal to noise ratio is too high, the application will not function correctly, resulting in data loss and the need to retransmit.

Testing the cabling, independent of the active equipment, determines if the installation will support single-pair applications such as 10BASE-T1L, Ethernet-APL, or even more basic communication devices when any compliant equipment is running on the network.

Best Practices for Testing

For maximum confidence that the cabling will support SPE, use a calibrated tester that meets the requirements of TIA-5071/IEC 61935-4, to characterize the cabling according to the link or channel specification needed for your application.

The tester will measure all relevant transmission parameters needed to ensure operation. It will also locate any defects due to materials or workmanship, thus decreasing the time required for commissioning and troubleshooting the network. We recommend retaining your initial commissioning data for installed networks as a baseline to help maintain and repair the network throughout operation.

Legacy fieldbus cabling has similar construction to SPE cabling but is not designed for use at the higher frequencies encountered with SPE. Before a brownfield upgrade to SPE applications, test the installed fieldbus cables to determine if they are viable for the application. Testing the cabling infrastructure reduces installation times and network downtime. It is important to work with your cabling manufacturer and test equipment provider to ensure that the right testing is performed to establish compliance and application warranty.

What’s Next?

The introduction of switches and adapters pushes SPE further into real applications, where data and power can be delivered to edge devices. We invite you to learn more about the current state of SPE at BICSI Fall, in a presentation by Christopher DiMinico, co-founder of SenTekse LLC and president/CTO of PHY-SI LLC. His presentation, Single-Pair Ethernet: Data and Power for the Wired World at BICSI Fall, will be on Tuesday, Sept. 12. In addition, stop by booth #1840 to see the demonstration of a 1,000-meter camera link with a 10BASE-T1L switch, adapters, and Panduit SPE components.

Learn more about Single Pair Ethernet at

Guest co-author: Christopher DiMinico

Christopher DiMinico is co-founder of SenTekse LLC and President/CTO of PHY-SI LLC, producing Single Pair Ethernet equipment and high-speed test fixtures respectively. Chris has more than 40 years of experience in the telecommunication industry and is an active participant and technical contributor in IEEE 802.3 and TIA/TR-42 standards bodies. Chris is the liaison officer from IEEE 802.3 to TIA/TR-42 and is the chair of the 802.3.24.2 IoT Vertical Applications Task Group.


Mike Berg

Mike Berg is a Sr. Business Development Manager with experience ranging from research and development, product management, marketing and solutions marketing, and business development. Michael has expertise in industrial networking and infrastructure solutions, control panel solutions and partnering programs.