Powerline Computer Networking – Home Wifi Alternative

by Mike McEvoy on January 26, 2010

powerline-computer-networking-dvr-tivo-hdtv

Powerline computer networking is an easy to install yet flexible method of adding a wired computer network to your home. Powerline networks are less well known than standard wired Ethernet networks and wifi wireless networks but can be quite useful in a home environment. A Powerline network uses a home’s internal power lines to transfer data using adapters that plug into standard wall outlets. A standard Ethernet data cable connects the adapter to the computer.

Some key benefits of Powerline Networking include:

  1. No complex settings to enter or wireless signals to locate.
  2. The plug-and-play installation is easy and actually works as advertised.
  3. Turns any electrical outlet into a high-speed, secure home network connection
  4. Easy method for expanding home networks to include PCs, HDTVs, TiVo’s, DVRs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, VoIP phones and network attached storage devices.
  5. Great for large homes where a wireless access point cannot cover the entire house.
  6. Avoids problems with wireless settings, signal interference or dropped wireless connections
  7. Better transfer speeds than most wireless networks; good for streaming video.
  8. Wired networking performance and security without the expense of running Cat5e cabling.
  9. Compatible with both PCs and Macs.
  10. Powerline adapters can connect to wireless access points and network switches for added flexibility.

Powerline Network Installation

To install a pair of Powerline adapters simply plug one adapter into an outlet near the router, connect it to the broadband router with a data cable, and then plug the second adapter into an outlet near the target computer and connect the data cable. Install multiple Powerline adapters for additional computers or other networked devices. Every electrical outlet in your home can now access your Internet connection simultaneously. Many people consider these network adapters to be the easiest networking component they have ever installed.

Adding a Wireless Access Point or Network Switch

Another handy aspect of Powerline networks is that you can also connect a wireless access point or a network switch to a powerline adapter. Say you have a room where you want multiple wired connections but only one power outlet. In this scenario you can connect a network switch to the powerline adapter and then connect two or more computers to the network switch.

In place of the network switch you could also install a wireless access point and extend wireless coverage to previously inaccessible areas. Just be aware that those multiple computers will only be sharing a single connection back to the router so you could potentially run into bandwidth and performance limitations.

HomePlug Powerline Networking Standards

Wireless networks have standards such as 802.11g and 802,11n. Powerline networking also has a couple of complementary standards. The first standard was HomePlug 1.0 and had a maximum data transfer speed of 85Mbps. The more recent standard is HomePlug AV which has a data transfer rate of 200Mbps and a higher level of network security. HomePlug AV technology is designed to provide fast transmission speeds that a great for delivering streaming media content such as high-definition video, head-to-head computer gaming, music streaming, Voice-over-IP calling, as well as file sharing and printing.

HomePlug AV certified products are available from companies such as Belkin, Linksys/Cisco, Netgear and Zyxel. Leading Powerline networking adapters include:

If you would like the simplicity of a wired network in your home without running cables through the halls or ripping open walls or floors, Powerline networking HomePlug AV technology is definitely worth exploring. The simplicity of installing these adapters is not overstated. They really are plug-and-play. Plus you have the flexibility of extending your Powerline network with a wireless access point or a network switch.

Additional information about HomePlug Powerline Networking is also available at www.homeplug.org. Below is an interesting video from the HomePlug Association made at the 2010 Comsumer Electronics Show.

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{ 5 comments }

Joe Palver January 28, 2010 at 5:43 pm

This is cool. I wasn’t really familiar with Powerline networks at all. This might just be the solution to that wireless “dead zone” in my basement. I need to explore this. Thanks.

SteveH January 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

Personally, I usually just run an Ethernet line between rooms when I want to add Internet, as I am not too big of a fan of wireless.

This is certainly a much simpler approach, especially for people who are renting or otherwise unable to easily run a line between rooms. I think the network speed offered by it is pretty impressive too…

Frank Jovine January 29, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Mike,

This is a great DIY IT article and I am sure many will come here to get steered in the right direction.

Dawn Pace February 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Interesting – I had no idea this even existed. Reminds me of the old crystal radios that used to hook into the house’s plumbing!
.-= Dawn Pace´s last blog ..See How Easily you can Speed up your Computer =-.

mathewsteff February 23, 2010 at 12:16 am

@Frank,

Hey Frank, I am the one who love to do DIY kind of experiments right form my childhood and i think yes, definitely i will go ahead with this kind of DIY experiment.

Thanks Mike for such a Good post on Power line Networks!!!

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