Smart Buildings

4 Reasons ICT Integrators Should Be Excited About Class 4 Systems

Ron Tellas

The 2023 version of the National Electrical Code (NEC) introduced the country to a new class of power circuit. It’s one that could change the way buildings and technology are powered in the future.


Class 4 classification—now included in the 2023 NEC—standardizes an improved format of electricity. Class 4 goes by many names: fault-managed power systems, packet energy transfer (PET), Digital Electricity™ (DE), pulsed power and smart transfer systems. These systems are unique and specialized, and they now have their own section within the code.


What makes them so unique? With voltage ratings of up to 450V, Class 4 circuits provide the convenience and safety of low-voltage power, just like Power over Ethernet (PoE); however, Class 4 also offers close to 20 times the power of PoE across hundreds of meters, offering a safe alternative to AC power.


Similar to Class 2 and Class 3, Class 4 power loads are often delivered through technology that combines power and data in a single cable run.


ICT integrators have many reasons to be excited about this new type of power circuit—and here are just a few examples!


1. Same Installation Process as Class 2/Class 3 Systems


As we mentioned above, a Class 4 system combines power and data into a single cable run. It offers the convenience and safety of low-voltage power with the power and distance capabilities of AC power.


As a result, Class 4 cables can be installed just like a Class 2 or Class 3 cabling system—and they’re just as safe as (or safer than) these systems while offering a higher voltage rating.


This means integrators can complete the entire infrastructure installation without needing to call in a certified electrician—no conduit or outlets needed. This not only reduces installation time and costs for installers but also allows savings and streamlined schedules to be passed along to clients.


This was the case at Circa Resort & Casino Las Vegas. Instead of using dedicated AC power, the owners of this 1.2 million-square-foot tower wanted to use Digital Electricity—a Class 4 system—as the backbone power distribution infrastructure to decrease energy use and create an intelligent building. Their vision involved powering everything from lights and switches to in-room climate control and wireless access points with DE.


Belden Digital Electricity Cables were deployed to support the tower’s backbone power distribution infrastructure; the cables are optimized to safely extend DE across the longest distances possible.


The project’s owner’s rep estimates construction cost savings of between $2 million and $3 million thanks to the combination of using a Class 4 system and Belden’s DE Cables instead of dedicated AC power.


2. A Broadened Scope of Work


As Class 4 systems move into the mainstream, they will provide integrators with the chance to broaden the scope of work they can provide, which can lead to more wallet share and better opportunities for continued business growth. As an integrator, the more types of work you can provide for a client, the “stickier” that relationship becomes. In other words, they’ll keep coming back because they can count on you to oversee more of their technology and infrastructure solutions.


Circa Resort & Casino Las Vegas is a great example of how this could work. The owners of this property were able to rely on a smaller group of partners to design and install all the low-voltage systems in the space: advanced building automation, digital in-room controls, wireless access points, PoE LED lighting and more. And they’re all powered with cutting-edge DE (Class 4) technology. As a result, the resort is the most intelligent building in downtown Las Vegas.


3. Opportunities for Recurring Revenue


Smart building systems almost always create a win-win situation for all parties involved. For end-users, they can help reduce energy use, automate certain processes, improve occupant comfort and provide data and valuable building insights to help owners make informed decisions. For integrators, they provide another new opportunity: remote system monitoring and proactive management, along with the possibility of recurring revenue.


Class 4 systems, such as Digital Electricity, support remote monitoring of electricity usage. According to VoltServer, the creator of Digital Electricity, the technology has built-in intelligence that allows for monitoring and control from any location. This allows power consumption to be tracked in real time, supports logging of power events and faults, and rolls out updates without interruptions to power delivery.


4. A Chance to Distinguish Your Company


When you truly understand the inner workings and advantages of emerging technology and applications, your clients will learn to think of you as a thought leader in the industry. When they want to learn about new technology or try something new and innovative with their next project, they’ll know who to partner with—an integrator that already understands the technology and can walk them through the pros and cons.


Hear More: What Integrators Think About Class 4 Systems


Belden recently partnered with NSCA and systems integrator ASD to discuss Class 4 systems and how they’re set to the change the industry—along with the work that integrators do. View the webinar on demand at any time.


Related Links:


The Industry’s First UL-Certified Class 4 Cabling System: Belden Digital Electricity™ Cables

Here Comes Class 4 Power: Differences Between Circuit Classes

Class 4 Systems