Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Powerline Ethernet Adapters Are Everyday Magic

Josh Centers:

Ultimately, both claims were overstated. Powerline networking evolved quietly but was overshadowed by Wi-Fi, cellular broadband, and fiber-optic networks. Although powerline networking never made it to the big time, it didn’t vanish. Rather, it has become reliable, readily available, and shockingly cheap.


I wanted to avoid drilling through the ceiling if at all possible, so I checked to see if powerline Ethernet is still an option — it is! A quick search on Amazon pointed me toward the best-selling TP-Link AV200 — a $25 kit consisting of a pair of 200 Mbps powerline Ethernet adapters.

If you need more speed, you can pay modest amounts more for the AV500 ($35), AV600 ($50), AV1000 ($40), or the AV1200 ($60). The model numbers correspond to their top throughput, so the AV1200 provides up to 1200 Mbps, which should be enough for gigabit Ethernet.

It sounds better and cheaper than I recall.

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It has never worked reliably for me. Maybe in newer houses it can live up to it's promise. In my house, two relatively adjacent outlets gave 200kbit/s when 100mbit/s was promised. Granted I have terrible wiring from the 70s. MoCA is a much better technology. Ethernet over coax.

The three encounters I had with TP-Link products (router, access points) were abysmal experiences. The two times I had to deal with powerline networks I was fighting with reliability and performance issues. That equipment was not from TP-Link though. Ultimately the wall was drilled and ethernet cable layed down.

I have three TP-Link AV1200 powerline adaptors.

* Easy network setup in a house where non-mesh Wi-Fi is problematic.
* Reliable.
* Improved performance compared to 802.11ac, especially when moving large files around which would cause Wi-Fi network congestion.

* It's still slow. I get approx 75 Mbps, which is clearly far below the advertised 1200 Mbps...
* My broadband is about the same speed (so at least the WAN isn't constrained).

My house wiring is new (~ 10 years old), so that's not the problem.
I'll probably move to a Wi-Fi mesh network at some point. As long as congestion isn't a problem.

I've been using three TP-Link 500M (HomePlug AV) devices in my home for three years. One is attached to my cable modem/router, with the other two attached to Wi-Fi routers in bridge mode (using them as dumb access points.) Although they're not perfect (one sometimes goes down, forcing me to power cycle it), they do work very well, and far more convenient than drilling holes and running Ethernet wire through my two-story home.

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