HomePlug or PowerLine is a computer network technology, which uses special network adapter plug which implements a filter to transfer a network signal over your home’s existing electrical infrastructure.
Although this technology has been widely available since 2001, it hasn’t garnered much main stream support, many home owners preferring either Wireless or Ethernet for their computer networking infrastructure, but interest over the past few years has been steadily growing in HomePlug networks as an additional third way to provide networking through the home. Particularly to the harder to reach areas of the home. The aim of this article is to provide you some background on why you should choose homeplug for your home network as a third network option.
Wireless networks have limitations
Wireless networking is a great and relatively hassle free way of networking your home, and particularly when many broadband providers provide this facility as standard feature of the routers they supply. In addition most of the broadband routers provide Ethernet, for those who are seeking for faster and stable network connectivity.
So many people would question why would they need this additional networking capacity? Well the answer is,, there are certain use cases where even Wireless and Cabling have limitations. For Instance, if you’re looking to extend your broadband access to your garden office, or building your Multi media “man cave” paradise in the loft, or you simply want an internet connection to the garage. You may experience some short comings from the other two options. i.e. Inconsistent signal strength or cabling issues.
These issues are usually due to the way broadband providers, traditionally phone company’s install broadband access, i.e. In the entrance hallway, or kitchen area, or some other convenient location you had asked for the Phone socket to be installed, which is probably not the most convenient place for you to install your new Smart TV, or a place to work on your new home based business, or a gaming location for your teenage offspring.
Wireless networking does have it’s limitations, in that it is not always possible to consistent signal throughout the house, especially in areas where there are a lot of internal walls and other signalling obstacles which limit can limit wave propogation, or something that is called the “Farraday effect”, which diffuses a wireless signal before it ever gets near a wireless device, resulting in poor wireless access.
Cable networks are a hassle to install
Cable network, although much faster and more reliable than wireless networking, does have limitations too. Firstly, the maximum cable length is 328 ft ( 100m) for Ethernet, which point to point may be ample, but when it comes to trunking it around the house to the desired location soon runs out. You are also faced with having to lift carpets and rugs to and trunking cables through the house, or have some professional installer come along and chase walls etc. to insert Ethernet ports wherever you may need access. This can become costly possibly rather unsightly.
A third networking choice
It’s when you face these situations that having a reliable third networking choice is a huge advantage. Power-line networking simply uses your home’s existing electrical wires as a transmission medium to connect your network devices. Which literally equates too, wherever you have a plug socket you can have a network access point. So all you need is a plug socket and a HomePlug network adapter. You’ll need a minimum of two HomePlug adapters, one which will be plugged in near and connected to your broadband router, and the other wherever you need your network access point.
PowerLine network adapters standards are based on the same standards as wireless networking adapters, IEEE 1901. The latest release of the standard is called HomePlug AV2, and it promises theoretical speeds of between 500Mbps or even topping out at Gigabit speeds. However, in practice one should only expect speeds averaging out at about 1/3 of the rated speed. Which to be honest is probably more than enough for most home networks. These speeds are more than ample enough to handle streaming HD movies, internet gaming and internet browsing all at the same time.
I have personally been using HomePlug adapters, most notably the ones from Solwise for about 5 years now, and I have not experienced any issues. My home is configured with all three network options, in that I have wireless access in the lounge and kitchen areas, Ethernet connection in the study and Powerline throughout the house. I even have Powerline extending WiFi access to the conservatory. I use powerline technology to get network access to my garden office, where I connect it up to wireless router to connect to my Netgear Wireless + VPN router to connect to my business network. I haven’t had any issues, and really don’t experience any sort of latency.
Cost effective and hassle free
In short HomePlug networking is a very cost effective, reliable and adaptable way of extending your home network with a lot less hassle and virtually zero complications. If you can plug an electical plug into a socket, you can set up a HomePlug network, it is quite literally Plug & Play.