Powerline Networking: What you should know

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There are various transmission mediums used in computer networking—with the most common ones being Ethernet Cables (Commonly known as LAN cable), Wireless (Wi-Fi and Radios), and Fiber Optics. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to computer networking—and the reason as to why the are widely known is that of their practicality. However, one other medium that is very practical, yet rarely used is Powerline Networking. First time hearing that term? Worry not, for today is the day you learn about it.

What is Powerline Networking

Powerline networking is the use of a building’s electrical wiring system to transfer data. The electric wires are used as the transmission medium and the wall outlets as the connection points.

How does it work

First of all, this is not a new technology; it has been in use since the early 1920s. The main reason why using electrical wires for data transmission is possible; is due to the frequency that power is transmitted. The electricity that is consumed at home has a frequency of 50/60 Hz, meaning that extra data can be sent along with the electricity without causing any interferences.

The transmission is made using a powerline networking adapter. For a complete connection, you will need at least two adapters. The adapters are set in separate rooms then an ethernet cable supplying an internet signal is connected to one of them. Once this is done, the internet signal can be received from the other wall outlet via an ethernet cable from the second adapter. Here is a diagram demonstrating how it all works.

Powerline Networking
Credit: Amazon

Security

There have been many concerns when it comes to security. The nature of the technology itself is very vulnerable to leakage, especially if you share your electrical wiring with other buildings.

However, if your building has been professionally wired, and everyone has their power meter, then there is very little chance that the electric signal will leak into other homes or rooms on a different meter.

Also, built-in security measures that require the adapters to pair—coupled with data encryption will ensure that only the intended adapters receive and decrypt the data. Compared to Wi-Fi, this is even more secure.

Why use this technology?

With so many practical technologies you might wonder why you need to use powerline networking. Compared to other technologies, particularly Wi-Fi and Ethernet, powerline networking isn’t as bad as it sounds. In regards to security and range, it is much better than Wi-Fi, even faster regarding bandwidth—and compared to Ethernet, it is simply less expensive given that the wiring is already available.

Where best to use it?

This technology is best used anywhere that an internet connection is needed, be it an office building or just at home. Especially for large spaces, where Wi-Fi can’t cover the whole space, powerline networking can be used to increase that range (which is much better than buying an extender for every room).

Buying the adapters

Given that all powerline adapters are made following common standards (which include; HomePlug 1.0, HomePlug AV2, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u), it is possible to use adapters from different manufacturers. However, given that every manufacturer implements their additional features and optimizations, it is better to get a kit from one manufacturer to ensure that you enjoy all the extra features.

If you are looking to invest in this technology, here are our top powerline adapter kit recommendations.

TRENDnet Powerline Adapter, TPL-406E

Features

  • Networking with electrical outlets,Compact form factor saves space,Up to 80% power savings.
  • IEEE 1901, HomePlug AV, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3x, IEEE 802.3u Standards,Utility OS Compatibility-Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and XP
  • Connect over existing electrical lines for homes up to 5,000 square feet with speeds up to 500 Mbps for seamless streaming of 4K UHD video streaming and online gaming.
  • 500 Mbps is the maximum theoretical Powerline data rate when connected to another Powerline device. Data throughput may vary by circuit wire conditions and adapter's ethernet port. Powerline communication works on a single electrical system. (Usually controlled by a single distribution panel). Power strip, GFCI outlets, and AFCI circuit breakers may degrade Powerline network signals.
  • 3-Year warranty with unlimited 24/7 Technical support

TP-Link AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter

Features

  • Wired connection with high-speed data transfer rate of up to 500Mbps, ideal for HD video or 3D video streaming and online gaming
  • HomePlug AV standard compliant, with easy pair feature to add additional TP-LINK Powerline adapters to the network
  • No new wires, Easy Plug and Play operation, No configuration required
  • Patented Power-Saving Mode automatically reduces power consumption by up to 85%.128-bit AES encryption ensures that the network is safe simply by pressing a button on paired devices.Up to 300 meter range over a home's electrical circuit for better performance through walls or across floors
  • 1*10/100Mbps

NETGEAR Powerline Adapter (PL1010-100PAS)

Features

  • Use your existing electrical wiring to extend your Internet access to any room in your house
  • Perfect for connecting smart TVs, streaming players & game consoles
  • Ideal for 4K HD streaming & lag-free gaming
  • Pick-a-plug LED for highest possible performance
  • Sets up in minutes, no need to install software

Linksys Powerline Network Adapter Set (PLSK400)

Features

  • Homeplug AV Technology for data rates up to 200Mbps
  • Easily add more devices to your network by plugging additional adapters into electrical outlets
  • Use your existing powerlines to network your computers and other devices
  • Includes 1 single-port adapter and 1 four-port adapter to connect multiple devices at once

Zyxel Pass-Thru AV2000 Powerline Adapter

Features

  • Expands your network for smooth 4K video streaming and lag-free online gaming
  • Gigabit Speed with Advanced HomePlug AV2 and MIMO technology
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting multiple devices
  • The advanced Quality of Service (QoS) feature improves the quality of multimedia streaming applications
  • Easy setup for fast, stable and secured Internet anywhere in your home. Product ships in Brown Box

Comtrend G.hn 1200 Mbps Powerline Adapter

Features

  • Delivers better real world performance than standard power line technology
  • Enhances performance and video streaming using LDPC/fec (forward error Correction) technology
  • Designed to work in high density environments (e.g.. Apartments, business offices, condos, hotels, etc.)
  • Supports an internationally recognized power line standard (itu-t) for true compatibility

TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender, AV1200 Powerline Edition

Features

  • AC1200 Dual band Wi-Fi - delivers combined speeds of up to 1200Mbps, providing fast and seamless network for multiple devices
  • AV1200 Powerline Speed - Fully meet the demand for bandwidth-intensive activities with ultra-fast powerline transfer speed of up to 1200Mbps
  • Wi-Fi Clone - Automatically copies the network name (SSID) and password of your router with the touch of the Wi-Fi clone button, Refer user manual below
  • Wi-Fi Auto-Sync - Makes it easy to add additional extenders to your powerline network by uniformly syncing settings such as SSID, password, Wi-Fi Schedule and LED Schedule for all network devices
  • Plug, Pair, and Play -Set up your powerline network and start enjoying fast, seamless wired/wireless connections in a matter of minutes

Extollo Powerline LANSocket 1500 HomePlug AV2 MIMO 2 Gbps Adapter Kit

Features

  • Best in Class Performance by independent consumer electronic review sites CNET, MBReviews and PCWorld
  • Ultra fast, up to 2 Gbps PHY powerline performance with added 512 Mbit (64MB) of DDR memory for streaming video
  • High performance & low latency, makes it ideal for streaming HD video and multiplayer online gaming
  • MIMO with beamforming increase the LANSocket 1500's network range while the electrical pass-through interface suppress electrical noise from attached electronics
  • Plug and Play installation, No configuration required, Gigabit Ethernet connection

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