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I have european telephone cables running through my walls to each room, without any connection/socket. Well... we really do not need any hard line telephone connection and I am into DIY projects, so I want to make use of these cables. I thought I could use these lines to deliver DC power to my Raspberry Pis and Arduinos around the house (sensors and stuff). But I really do not know how much voltage and current I can allow through these cables. One other possibility is to use them for speakers around the house (music or communication). Again speakers will need audio and power and I want to avoid switching cables as much as possible. PoE is an option I am considering, which is known/established but expansive with switches/injectors and splitters with 3+ devices.

I was wondering, if I can use existing phone cables for power (from a main AC to DC (48V?) converter, NOT from phone company of course)? Are there any standards for cable resistance/thickness and allowed potential and current?

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POE actually uses AC power (the cheap injectors us DC but they are not to spec). Since you don't know what kind of cable you are using, DC could be a problem for three reasons.

  1. Since you don't know what the wire is, and most of us can't guess what European phone cable is like. You need to worry about the size, you could burn the wire up, you need to figure out what the conductor is rated for, if you can determine the size then you could compare that to a wire gauge chart to get a current rating.
  2. You may have too much DC resistance. Take the wires and tie them together on one end, then take your meter and measure the resistance. If it was more than tens of ohms that is going to be a problem. Lets say you power a PI, they run at about .350mA max plus some other stuff so 1/2 an amp total. You step the voltage up to 48V and then down at the end of the cable which we'll say worst case is 100ohm. 1/2 an amp @5V is 2.5W. 2.5W running at 48V is ~50mA (Plus a little more from the inefficiencies of the DC/DC converters, but we are going to ignore those at this time). 50mA in a 100 ohm cable will be (P=I^2*R) a quarter of a watt which is probably fine. If there is a different signal or voltage that you'll send down the cable use the same process using the rules (V=IR , P=IV and P=I^2*R)
  3. Leakage current through the insulation. You need to make sure your not putting power on anything else and that the insulation can hold 48V. I don't think it will be a problem but its worth mentioning.

If you use the real POE (AC) , it would be better if the phone cable was twisted pair, otherwise the AC might radiate out a bit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot! I thought PoE is DC... But it doesn't matter anyway, I think I will simply pass Cat5 or 6 cables through the ducts simply to use PoE for Raspberry Pi, which seems to be more convenient. But for the audio/speakers, I will probably replace with something I know, for security... \$\endgroup\$ – Genom Feb 5 '16 at 0:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, you can often get away with stuff. Sometimes its better to just follow spec. \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d Feb 5 '16 at 21:12

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