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Apr 05

Using Ethernet power line network adapters to solve poor wireless coverage

powerline adapter tplink

What are power line network adapters

The ability to send data over power lines has been around since about 2002. The idea is that you use the power wires running through your house as network cables in essence meaning pretty much every room in your house is networked and there are no cables hanging down walls or tacked to skirting boards.

There are a number of advantages to this kind of networking

  • • there are virtually no wires. You plug one into a socket and run a cable from the socket to the back of your computer.
  • • The thickness of walls and the material of walls does not matter as it does with wireless
  • • They can go up to 300 metres
  • • They can support 254 devices
  • • Speeds up to 600Mb

Obviously there are disadvantages

  • • It relies on the wiring in your house – Bad wiring = Bad connection and speeds
  • • Leakage of RF signals could affect the connection

Why are powerline adapters not used more if they are so good?

When the first ones rolled out 10 years ago they were relatively slow at around 15Mb/s and then when wireless became the norm powerline adapters got pushed back. They were considered slow and back then to be honest we were limited in the number of devices we wanted to connect to the internet.

Nowadays pretty much everything can be connected up to the internet somehow. There are already TVs that connect directly to the internet and stream movies, you can but fridges that connect to the internet and so many other devices you can think of are now available with internet connectivity. Power line adapters are becoming very popular again and are often used to compliment your existing network and extend its range.

While wireless is great we all know it has its problems from low signals through multiple walls to dropped signals when there is interference and then there is distance which can be an issue on occasion. 

This is where power line adapters come in useful. You can buy power line network adapters that even have a socket on them so they are not using one of your sockets. (see right)

Power line adapters netgear

So do I need to ditch my wireless for powerline Ethernet?

Power line adapters don’t have to replace your wireless network they work alongside it. Power line networking is considered by many the best way to stream your videos and music around your house if you don’t want cables running around simply because it is in essence a wired connection and less prone to interference than wireless.

While not perfect using power line network adapters can help to ensure you get internet access on a device that is not near your router or is not wireless enabled.

Which power line adapter do I choose

There are a variety of providers out there most of the companies that make routers and wireless devices also make their own brand of power line Ethernet adapters. Remember that you can add to it at a later date so initially but two and see how you get on I hear too often of people going out and buying 6 and 8 packs only to find out that it is not a suitable solution for them.

You also need to decide if you can spare the socket or if the adapter has to have a socket on the front of it. Personally I prefer the ones without sockets on to cut down on potential interference but if you have a shortage of socket s look for ones with a socket at the front of the network adapter.

The next choice you will be faced with is what speed to get. The speed varies from 200Mbps to 500Mbps. Obviously the faster the speed the more expensive the adapters. If you are looking to stream movies, play games and other bandwidth intense applications I would go for the faster you can afford.

The pair to the right are your basic pair and are more than adequate for everyday use and on a well wired house will be suitable for gaming. 

The pair to the left are the faster 500Mbps as you can see they are quite a bit more expensive but a much better option if you are looking to stream movies and music and play a lot of online games

Summary

In summary when looking to powerline Ethernet adapters you want to look at 4 things

  1. Is it suitable for my needs
  2. Research the best supplier (You will see from the reviews for the 2 links above TP-Link have a very good reputation and on a personal level I have used their products and highly recommend them)
  3. Decide what you are going to use them for i.e. streaming movies, playing games, everyday use and buy an appropriate speed (I recommend getting the higher speed regardless if you can afford it as it then future proofs your network should you change your mind in the future)
  4. Can I spare a socket or do I need it to have a socket on the front. Again this is personal preferences but I prefer to have no socket on the adapter.

1 comment

  1. Alejandra

    What a great article! It’s really informative and innovative. Keep us posted with new updates. it’s was really valuable. thanks a lot!!

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