What makes a building smart? This video animation is a guided tour that illustrates the answer — the Internet of Things (IoT). In a building means that virtually every piece of equipment is connected over a cabled network infrastructure.

Ethernet may be well suited as that infrastructure because it is compatible with most manufacturers’ addressable devices, most computers, and most controllers.

Smart LED lighting for a conference room. Credit: SiemonSmart LED lighting for a conference room. Credit: SiemonEach device on an Ethernet network is connected by category type twisted-pair cable, preferably CAT 5 or higher. This type of cable not only carries data but can also provide low voltage DC power to operate the connected equipment – Power Over Ethernet (PoE). Each device on the network has a unique IP address so that each one can be controlled and polled individually. Status and control of all of the connected devices can be implemented by means of software run on a computer or a standalone controller.

The network can control security cameras, entry codes, HVAC, and lighting, to name a few. One function for Ethernet and POE is to power and control LED lighting. (See Rock Star: LEDs Electrify Energy Management Efforts.)

Because LEDs are low voltage components, powering them requires a stepdown transformer and rectifier or a switching power supply. It may be simpler and more efficient, however, to use PoE, which can also feed the other low-voltage components on the network including wireless access points and fixed phone lines.

An LCD monitor in the conference room can be controlled with an app or control device that also users sensors to determine whether lights should automatically dim or sun blinds should extend. LED light fixtures mounted in a ceiling can be remotely controlled by occupancy sensors and dimmers.

Since each LED fixture can also incorporate sensors for motion and environmental conditions such as temperature and air quality, they can form a matrix to communicate detailed, localized information to other building systems such as HVAC.

The actual physical network can be structured as a series of zones, with boxes placed at points within the building, above the ceiling, on the wall, or under the floor. These zone boxes can house all of the connections for equipment within a range of 13 meters, from there to a patch panel in a local equipment closet and finally to the main equipment room.

As shown in the video, this is the heart of the network installation. It is where the data streams come together and is the source of low-voltage power for all of the IP connected devices.