Power Over Ethernet

I’ve got a challenge with my Starlink setup. I need to extend the cable between the dish and its power supply. This is because the dish comes with a hardwired 100 feet of cable and I intend to go up a tree about 100 feet with the dish. I don’t want to have to locate the power supply at the base of the tree so I need to extend the cable to reach inside my house. That’s at least 50 more feet and closer to 100 feet if I want to run it through an existing underground conduit to a far corner of the house.

The dish uses power over ethernet (PoE) so both the internet data and the power travel across the same ethernet cable. Now here’s where the problem comes in. Starlink’s dish is very power hungry. It normally draws 100 watts! and can spike up to 180 watts!! That’s far more than typical PoE and probably why SpaceX limited the length of the cable to 100 feet. So, everything works fine with the 100 feet of cable that Starlink ships with but because voltage drops with the length of the cable, when I extend the cable by another 100 feet, the voltage drops enough that the dish is under-powered and fails to boot, goes into a reboot loop, or reboots when power draw spikes.

So, there are a few possible solutions I can think of (and I’m interested if any of you all have other ideas.)

The first solution is to find an ethernet cable with a thicker gauge wire. The thicker the wire, the less the voltage will drop. I’ve tested with 24 gauge and get the constant reboot loop. I’ve tested with thicker 23 gauge and don’t get the reboot loop but do get reboots when the dish draws more than normal power which seems to happen every couple of hours. If I could find some 22 gauge wire, it might be sufficiently hefty to keep enough voltage to prevent those semi-regular reboots. I can’t find anyone selling pre-terminated 22 gauge ethernet cable though so if I go this rout I’ll have to buy some bulk cable and do the RJ45 jacks myself. I guess that’s not a huge deal but it’s something I was hoping to avoid.

The second solution is to go with a shorter extension. The shorter the run, the less voltage drop and so if I drop down from 100 feet of extension to 75 feet of extension, I might not see the low voltage situation and the reboots. Dropping down to 50 feet would probably be even better but that would just barely reach my house with a more direct aerial run rather than the longer more circuitous underground conduit run.

The third solution is to not extend the cable and instead bring power out to the foot of the tree. This is significantly more work, digging a trench, laying conduit, and running wires from the house to the tree. And then I’d have to find a way to weatherproof the power supply (and the UPS I want to use with it.) That would mean finding some kind of case or building something like a small doghouse. The power supply gets quite warm and so what ever I buy or build to protect it from the weather would also need to be vented to allow it to stay cool. Maybe something like a vented battery box would work.

2 thoughts on “Power Over Ethernet”

  1. Might be a silly question, but have you tried asking Starlink tech support? Maybe they’ll sell you a 200 foot cable suitable for your situation. Maybe they won’t, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

    1. What a great suggestion! Thanks. I also found some affordable 22 gauge Cat6 in bulk so if SpaceX can’t help that’ll be my next experiment I think.

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