Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology allows a user to send both power and data to a device using a single, compatible Ethernet cable.
PoE technology is useful in deployments where a power outlet is not available nearby. Additionally, PoE technology is great for aesthetic purposes in settings where users want to minimize the number of cables that are used by their Screenly Player. Lastly, it allows IT managers to remotely shut down and power cycle devices.
What do I need to power my Screenly Player using PoE?
There are two types ways of adding PoE to your Raspberry Pi:
- Using an internal Hardware Attached on Top (HAT)
- Using an external PoE Splitter
Using a HAT
Raspberry Pi Foundation's PoE HAT
Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing approach is to use a PoE HAT. The entire PoE HAT will fit inside the case (assuming there is enough room). There are a number of different PoE HATs on the market, but perhaps the most popular one is the official PoE HAT from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
There are some considerations for when selecting a PoE HAT:
- To use the official PoE HAT, you need a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ or later.
- Some PoE HATs include a fan to cool down the board. Fans generally speaking are prone to failure, which could potentially reduce the lifespan of your device.
- If you're using a heat sink (which we do for all our players), you may not be able to fit the PoE HAT.
- You will likely need a taller case to allow for sufficient air flow.
There are many PoE HAT devices available that are not manufactured by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, such as the Pi Supply PoE Switch HAT.
Of course, you will also need a PoE compatible Ethernet cable. Most CAT5, CAT6, and CAT7 cables are compatible with PoE (meaning that they can transfer both power and data). However, you should check with your Ethernet cable vendor to ensure that the cable is PoE compatible.
Also, note that your Raspberry Pi PoE HAT will only work if the PoE compatible Ethernet cable is connected to a compatible network device, commonly a PoE switch or a PoE injector. These devices should use the IEEE 802.3af or 802.3at standard. If you have questions, check with your network vendor to ensure that your equipment is compatible with those requirements.
Using a PoE Splitter
The other alternative is to use what's known as a PoE Splitter. In contrast to the HAT approach, you do not need to modify your player. The entire device is external to the Raspberry Pi. You simply plug in the Ethernet cable into the PoE Splitter, and on the other end you get a "pass through" Ethernet cable, along with a power cable.
There are a number of different PoE Splitters on the market. Here are some options:
- UCTRONICS PoE Splitter
- This device should be compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and B+
- TP-Link PoE Splitter
- This device requires additional an cable, but should be compatible with all Raspberry Pis
How do I install the PoE HAT on my Screenly Player?
Your compatible Screenly Player consists of a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ minicomputer inside a case. Remove the Raspberry Pi device from the case.
On the top side of the device (the side with the USB, HDMI, and Ethernet ports), you will need to screw in four “spacers” that come with your Raspberry Pi PoE HAT. A spacer is a small, plastic column that keeps space between any add-on device and the Raspberry Pi chip. You will need to screw in a spacer into each of the four yellow holes on your Raspberry Pi device. Each hole is near a corner of the visible chip.
Next, lay your RaspberryPi PoE HAT on top of these connectors and connect the pins on your PoE HAT with the PoE and GPIO pins on your Raspberry Pi device. Then plugin your PoE compatible Ethernet cable into your Raspberry Pi device, and that’s it! You can now power your Screenly Player using PoE.
Need help setting up PoE with your Screenly Player?
If you need help with powering your Screenly Player using PoE, feel free to reach out to us at Screenly Support! We’re always happy to help our users.