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10 Things to Consider before Procuring an Ethernet Switch for Industrial Applications

An Ethernet switch is a network device that plays a pivotal role in ensuring seamless communication within a Local Area Network (LAN). Unlike data exchange hubs in a traditional network, ethernet switches operate at the data link layer of the OSI model,making intelligent forwarding decisions based on the MAC addresses.

The ethernet switches have evolved to offer myriad features, thereby making it important to understand the key aspects of Ethernet switches for designing robust and scalable networks to meet ever growing demands.

In this blog we will discuss about the major factors to check before selecting an Ethernet switch for your networking requirements.

Port Count & Type

While going for selection of an ethernet switch, it is very important to guage the requirements of the application and also assess the need for future scalability.

Number of Ports: The most important consideration is to determine the number of devices to be connected to ethernet switch, also factoring in possibilities for future expansion.

Speeds & Standards: Ethernet switches are available in options Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Ensure that the switches comply with industry standards such as IEEE802.3 for Ethernet.

Managed Vs. Unmanaged Switches

When deciding on the most suitable switch for your requirements, a very important consideration is whether to use managed or unmanaged switch. The primary distinction lies in the level of control you can exercise over the switch’s settings.

Unmanaged Switches are designed for simple plug-and-play application, which makes them well suited for small networks with basic requirements. On the contrary, managed switches need full configuration and offer customization options and comprehensive performance data, making them better suited for larger networks and networks supporting critical activities.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) Capability

Based on the application and depending on the availability of power source near the switch, it is decided whether PoE function is required or not required in an Ethernet switch. For a comprehensive understanding of PoE switch selection in industrial applications, we invite you to explore our blog titled “Examining the Essentials Before Deploying PoE in Industrial Applications.” This insightful resource provides in-depth information to guide you through the selection process. PoE switches offer better flexibility eliminating the need to AC power thereby allowing the switch to be placed anywhere in the network. Especially when the network involves devices like IP camera, VoIP and wireless access points, PoE offers great convenience. PoE also allows centralized power management by allowing the network to be connected centrally to an UPS.

Certifications for Protection against Environmental Hazards

Ethernet switches have to be sometimes utilized in rough site environments. Hence it is necessary to make sure that the ethernet switches is capable to withstand the conditions. Internationally recognized certifications adhering to different environments ratify more protection for different environments and enhanced reliability.

Switching Capacity & Throughput

The switching capacity indicates the maximum volume of data that can flow between the switch interface processor and the data bus between the switching device. The greater the switching capacity, more that data it can handle. However it also signifies higher design cost.

Switching capacity is very important in bandwidth intensive applications like cloud services, which pulls a lot of data thereby increasing network latency.

Reliability and Redundancy

Network redundancy deals with providing alternate data transfer paths, to keep the data flowing in case of failures. So more the redundancy in a network, more is the reliability in the network. Though it increases the complexity of the network topology, it ensures that network is up at all times, satisfactorily.

Redundant network switches fail safe, and significantly reduce network downtimes, thus are a serious consideration while designing a network.

Temperature Requirements

Many industrial applications require operations in harsh temperature conditions. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the Ethernet switch is rated for wide range of operating temperatures, to keep the system up without interruptions.

In appropriate ethernet switches can cause costly service delays, interruptions or downtime that can negatively affect business. Generally, ethernet switches are available in temperature tolerance range of 0 to 45 deg C, while the range expands to -40 to 85 °C for industrial grade ethernet switches.

Galvanic Isolation

Galvanic isolation deals with dividing the input and output of a device to disallow the flow of current through the field, especially during external surges. The main reason to create isolation is to create galvanic security in industrial grade products. Electrical surges or lightning strikes can cause voltage spikes in voltage that can render the ethernet switch useless. Ethernet switches with galvanic isolation can provide protection by reducing the risk of power currents flowing through the system directly.

Mounting Requirements and Dimensions

Ethernet switches can come in various formats and mouting arrangements. It is therefore always recommended to check on the dimensions to ensure that it will fit where it is required to installed.

Ethernet switches that fall on the lower end of the cost spectrum generally have are very compact and designed to sit on a flat surface like a desk.

The larger network switches are designed to be mounted on a 19 inch rack system and provided with “mounting ears”. For 19 inch rack mounting the switch sizes are often described in terms of “U” I.e. 1U, 2U and so on. The measurement indicates the the height spaces occupied in the rack. A 1 U system shall occupy one space and 2U system shall occupy 2 spaces.

Noise Levels

Small Ethernet switches are not mounted with fans for cooling. However the larger ones cannot be convection cooled and are therefore mounted with fans. These fans sometimes create considerable noise, making it necessary to verify the application and location of the network switches.


Selecting the right Ethernet switch is a pivotal decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. By assessing the networks incumbent needs and future requirements, you can make an informed decision that aligns with the organizations goals. Prioritize reliability, security and scalability. Investing time in upfront decision making can lead to a more robust and efficient network infrastructure in the long run.

Lubi Electronics