Powerline Adapters: Decision

Wi-Fi is great. For most people it is also the easiest way to provide internet access in every room in a house. But in reality, sometimes the rooms are too far, the walls are too thick and the Wi-Fi is too weak and unreliable. We all know sometimes it is simply better to just use a wired connection anyway. They provide stability and speed. So, it is usually a good idea to run ethernet wires across your house. However, that option is not always the most practical. It could mean that you would have to tear some walls apart, or run wires simply on the walls to different parts of your house. This is where a Powerline Adapter comes in to play.

What are Powerline Adapters?

Powerline Adapters are a truly wonderful piece of technology. Powerline is a simple-to-install digital home technology that can provide faster speeds than Wi-Fi for connecting devices to your network, regardless of whether or not they are in the same room as your router. They use a home’s main power wires to create a network connection, which is often faster than Wi-Fi. These devices are perfect for homes where a single Wi-Fi router is not enough and does not provide ample speed in rooms further away from the router. Sometimes it is not practical to wire your house out with ethernet cables and it can certainly look untidy when the wiring is done externally. They are also usually cheaper than remodeling your walls and embedding ethernet cables in them as internal wiring. Basically, they are a multi-functioning alternative for ethernet cables. Some models can even provide Wi-Fi if needed.

If you are interested in learning more, here’s a few things you should know.

They need to be connected to a router

Every network needs a router. This is no exception. Powerline Adapters are not alternatives to routers, or modems, for that matter.

They do not do the things a router does, like assign your IPs. They are only a different way to connect devices to the internet router. You can think of them as extensions of ethernet cables

They come in packs of 2

Image result for Powerline Adapters packed

Powerline Adapters simply connect devices at point A to point B, using a house’s main electrical wires as the medium of transmission. Individual devices are plugged into electrical sockets. One of which is connected to a router, while the other is connected to a device which needs an internet connection. You can purchase more if you need to connect other rooms, or devices by the Powerline Adapters.

Plug and Play

Powerline Adapters are extremely easy to set up. They almost always plug and play devices. The only thing you need is two short ethernet cables to connect them to the router and the device, and two electrical sockets to plug them in to. However, some devices support security. So, usually, you will have to “sync up” the devices with each other by pressing the buttons at the same time.

Variable reliability

Although these devices claim to provide consistent speeds of 2000 Mbps sometimes, in reality, there can be numerous issues causing them to in fact be much slower than that. Although you will see many 5 stars awarded – It is evident from scrolling down on the reviews of any Powerline Adapter that some users have issues with them. Why is that so?

Well, in some cases it could just be a defective device that needs to be replaced. However, most of the time it is the fact that the electrical wiring in the house is not adequate for supporting powerline ethernet. The reasons may vary. Sometimes the distance between two rooms may be far too great to support a stable, high-speed connection. Other times there could be interference in the wires. There is no sure fire way to know if the wires in your house would support the powerline ethernet or not, without consulting a technician or electrician.

Cheaper than alternatives

Considering that a decent Powerline Adapter can be bought for about 40$, it is evident that these devices are relatively cheap. It certainly depends on the circumstances. If you have a large house and it does not already have internal ethernet wiring, it is impractical to get it remodeled and rewired. It is not cheap to put in place Wi-Fi repeaters, which would definitely reduce speed and would still not guaranty a stable signal in rooms further away. Thus it is safe to say that, depending on the circumstances, Powerline adapters can definitely be cheaper than the alternatives that may be available to a user.

Security

Since Powerline Adapters use electrical wiring to transmit internet signals through them, it would be valid to assume they could be hijacked by users near your house using compatible devices, as they would have the same source of electricity and same main wiring. However, electrical wires in different houses are separated with small transformers which scramble the signal emitted from the adapters. Also, most Powerline devices offer some sort of encryption that safeguards users in such scenarios.

Increased Functionality

Whereas some Powerline Adapters offer only the minimum router to device experience, others provide a few useful features. Some Powerline adapters provide Wi-Fi, so if you need to use devices that rely on Wi-Fi but are far away from your main router, you can use such Powerline adapters to get Wi-Fi through them. They can be used for smartphones, smart TV’s and other such devices.

 

If you are worried about not having enough electrical sockets in a room, or just have one which you need for other devices too, you can use adapters with integrated pass-through sockets. These are quite useful, save up on space and ease-of-use as well. If you need advice on which device suits your needs, you should start with this list of the Best Powerline Adapters

 

Conclusion/Compatibility

Although quite a few companies make powerline adapters, they do not configure them to be compatible with each other. They are divided into two specification categories. Namely, HomePlug and G.hn. Theoretically, if you buy two devices of the same specification, they should work together. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes the security protocols may not work either. Generally, really old devices will not work with newer ones as well. Therefore it is certainly best to buy the same make and model of Powerline adapters to ensure compatibility and optimum functionality.

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Bill Wilson


Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.
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