Powerline Network

A powerline network removes unsightly cables from the walls of your home and stops your friendly pets chewing through them. It is not just ugly, but running meters of Ethernet around the house to your router is just simply dangerous. If wireless networking is not an option and you have not got the time to DIY everything into the wall then you should look at PowerLine networking for your home computer network.

These devices turn your mains power supply into a computer network and allow you to run secure data networks without the need for additional wiring or wireless networks. With different adapters included in the homeplug range you can now extend your network to include both wired connections and portable wireless hotspots so that you can design the network that you need for little more cost than a good router. A powerline network can also be secure home computer network using software that is usually included with the devices; making it just as security conscious as a wired Ethernet based network.

It is important to make sure you secure your powerline network because most mains supplies are provided to many of your neighbours on the same electrical phase as you are. Although you have an electricity meter or other devices designed to distinguish yourself from the mains; this does not terminate the digital signal.

Problems with a non-Powerline Network

A powerline network can help connect devices that would otherwise have to rely on wireless connections. The problem is that wireless routers have to cope with both current and old technology and standards in order to serve data effectively; most routers come with a single wireless adapter which might have to juggle the latest smart devices which connect at the fastest 802.11ac wireless standard and an old device working to the 802.11b standard.

If you have a device running at the oldest 802.11b standard it will slow down your network because of the way a router has to manage its connections. You should be considering phasing out any “b” devices you still use. Devices that use the more recent standards are not affected by the same interaction issue as the oldest devices, but that does not mean that you should not try to avoid using wireless networks.

Uses for a Powerline Network

When you consider the amount of new technology using Internet and networking functions in order to work, the way that homeplugs can help this becomes clear

  • Home Back-Up Servers: A home backup server can help recover your data in a disaster but many people just plug their NAS server into a router right next to their computer! Now you can use the mains to transfer data elsewhere in your house or office; storing it separately stores it safely.
  • Games Consoles: The XBox 360 and Playstation 3 now ship with wireless adapters but if you game online then you will know just how important it is to have a stable connection. Now you can have your console anywhere in the house; perfect for that overnight bedroom battle on the Battlefield for the Call of Duty.
  • Sharing Home and Business: If you work from home then you probably want your own home office. If this is in a converted bedroom or new extension then it is unlikely to have either a telephone point for ADSL modems or a cable entry point for fibre optic Internet. Now you can simply connect your router to the mains and share it throughout the house while leaving the leisure computer for gaming or e-mail.

Powerline Devices

The devices need to plug directly into a mains power point to work at their capabilities but this can be overcome by using homeplug adapters that also offer a power through point. Some powerline network users have found that they can connect an adapter to a consumer extension lead however with modern examples using surge protection and other safety features it does interfere with data transmission.

The consumer range of powerline adapters have a number of different features as we have already mentioned. For most consumer users a point to point connections could use the entry level ethernet homeplugs as pictured right. These have a single ethernet connection that simply connects to your router and computer using the included cables (or any other standard ethernet cable).

If you want to create a mini wi-fi hotspot to connect your smartphones or tablets in the bedroom (or the kitchen, bathroom; anywhere) then you can extend your powerline network with a power line wireless access point which you can configure to serve as your wireless signal or even as repeaters for your main router

If your network needs more than one Ethernet plug then a small number of manufacturers offer homeplug adapters which have more than a single ethernet interface, or you can use desktop switch units to further spread your connections.

Connecting Your Powerline Adapters

Connecting your powerline network is easy. Most manufacturers have designed their homeplugs to use a simple “press-to-pair”facility similar to connecting a bluetooth headset to a mobile phone.

If you are connecting more than one device or need to configure a wireless homeplug adapter then drivers and utilities are included with devices to allow them to be connected together with customised network and password details. Once this is done then your powerline network is secured and just like a wireless network; your neighbours might be able to see it, but they will still need the password to access it.

Plug & Play

I have been using combinations of TP-Link Powerline adapters for a number of years now and I must say that I am still impressed at what they can do. My most recent update of kit includes multiple LAN points and transfer rates of 500mbps which is the fastest standard for most consumers.