View Full Version : Powerline Ethernet Adapters

01-06-2012, 05:56 PM
Hey everyone,

So, I was looking for a solution to the ethernet cables trailing all over the house, and the wireless connections computers get in here is sketchy at best. So, I found these (http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/tp-link-tl-pa211kit-200mbps-mini-powerline-ethernet-adapter-kit-twin-pack-10991859-pdt.html?intcmpid=display~RR~~10991859) on the internet, and was wondering if they were an effective solution to the problem, or if there's a better alternative.


01-06-2012, 06:30 PM
The true solution to ethernet cables trailing all over the house is better cable routing and drilling holes in walls, I can understand why you don't want to do that.

I believe they work fine, but you might have to look into how and where the power cables enter your house, the ethernet signal is sent along the wiring, but as the power system is not a direct route, the signal spreads along all connected wires and so it is possible to pick the signal up from outside your house. I'm not sure on the distances capable, but if you share a connection to the mains with your neighbours they could plug a similar device into their own sockets and pick up your porn downloads. So it depends on how paranoid you are.

01-06-2012, 06:55 PM
It depends on the wires used in your house, the distance and the amount of equipment connected to them.
In my fathers house we use them for IPTV and they run with no problem but it's only for a few meters, the house is a few years old and there are only few pieces of hardware connected to the electric system the powerline adapters hang on.
A friend of mine tried them for the use at his flat and it did not really work for him (package loss and the like) so it might depend on your specific "setup". Maybe you should get one or two (but make sure you can return them), test them for a week and if you don't run into problems you have your solution :) They can work, and most of the time they will, but sometimes they wont. Just as with WLAN (n-WLAN isn't a possibility?)

PS: Sorry for most likely getting the technical terms wrong. Not a native speaker ;)

01-06-2012, 07:00 PM
I have no experience with this technology myself but I have a friend who is moderately pleased with ethernet over power. He said he experienced some packet loss and the speed wasn't always optimal. This posed no problem for him for transferring files or streaming movies but it caused some annoying issues when playing online games where each packet is precious.

It's a much simpler solution compared to drilling holes in your walls, though.

A happy medium might be to invest in a wireless repeater which will rebroadcast your wifi, but it will add a few milliseconds to your ping. It will give you a very nice strong signal, though, unless your house is very solidly built.

01-06-2012, 08:13 PM
There's a lot of factors that will effect how well they work, such as the age and quality of your electrical wiring, the quality of the power supply in your area, and any other appliances you have connected (for example, having a fridge connected to the same ring will likely cause problems whenever the compressor kicks-in, and there's lots of equipment that will generate 'noise' across your power supply).

I think it's pretty much a case of 'suck it and see', so it should be considered a last resort.

01-06-2012, 08:28 PM
Quick question since the topic is up:
Can these devices transfer data between multiple ring mains systems? I know the older units (read 6 / 7 years old) could not.

01-06-2012, 08:31 PM
I think it's pretty much a case of 'suck it and see', so it should be considered a last resort.

Electrical wiring is generally of a better quality than interior phone cables and they are better protected than Ethernet by virtue of being in the walls. Often they offer a setting based encryption (like a combination lock), I've never used them myself but my friend swore by them, even sending his internet into his laptop in the garden with an extension cable (very dangerous unless you use a garden safe extension with a trip switch). But this was before reliable WiFi.

01-06-2012, 09:20 PM
Quick question since the topic is up:
Can these devices transfer data between multiple ring mains systems? I know the older units (read 6 / 7 years old) could not.

AFAIK there's no way it could work between seperate rings.

01-07-2012, 09:54 AM
Hello, new here, but happy to help! I have used powerlines, as not too keen on using wi-fi in my house, due to having small children and being far to over-anxious about any future effects of having wi-fi constantly on. (I try to ignore the the fact that everyone in my entire surrounding area is bombarding me with their wi-fi signals, which undermines my own argument to myself and the fact that my children go to a school where they all practically sit underneath mammoth wi-fi boxes in every classroom). Anyway, powerlines... they work great, as long as you do not use powersurge extension leads and do not have something on your electrical circuit that uses a mass of energy. In my previous house, we had a heated bathroom floor (bliss) that interfered with the signal, making it unusable. It is not as great as plugging straight into the modem, but they are cheaper all the time, so give it a go.

06-07-2012, 04:45 AM
I have one such thing to connect my PS3 and it works fine. You get a bump down in speed compared to proper ethernet cabling, but it's still faster than wi-fi. On the flip side, I've never really tested latency so I wouldn't be able to tell you how great that is.

Depending on your needs, wireless repeaters could be more practical though. Laptops can readily take advantage of them, whereas ethernet over powerlines still requires you to plug the wire in, so the clutter somewhat remains.

Just out of curiosity though, have you thought about relocating your router or investing in a better one? I have a hard time believing a modern multi-antenna 802.11n router would have trouble broadcasting throughout an average house, unless the house is huge or the router's hidden under concrete in the third basement.

@Fynbar: I hope you don't have a microwave oven, wireless phones, a cellphone or a radio then... Oh and never get outside or cosmic rays could hurt you :P

06-07-2012, 11:11 AM
I use powerline networking all over my house, with multiple adapters and multiple PCs, and have never noticed any lag issues or problems, usually getting 80-100 Mb/s speed (PC to PC via the router), so much faster than my broadband connection anyway. I have a moderately old house which features some very chunky copper power cable, so maybe that helps get me a good connection? It's much more reliable than sitting a couple of thick brick walls away from the router trying to use wifi for gaming, at least (edit - last time i tried wifi was in pre 'N' days - I believe the extra power/speed might overcome those walls these days).

06-07-2012, 04:53 PM
I believe the extra power/speed might overcome those walls these days).

There is no extra power in Wireless-N (unless you hack it but then you could hack g too), the protocol is more sophisticated so MIMO equipment should have an edge over 11g.

I've seen up to 12 MB/s in good conditions from a 2-stream 2.4 GHz router. Recently 3-stream (450 Mbps) devices have been released and IIRC the standard has provision for up to 4 streams/600 Mbps (of course for the latter 2 you need to switch to 5 GHz)

I'd been pondering powerline adapters before upgrading from 11g to Wireless-N, but if wireless can be made to work reasonably well, it's more effective (i.e. faster AND cheaper) than powerline.

Powerline should also have decreased electromagnetic pollution, for anyone concerned about that.