What is a Powerline Adapter?
A Powerline Adapter is a device that creates a wired network using the power lines throughout your home.
In other words, by plugging in a device to any of your wall sockets in the house (yes, your standard electricity wall sockets), you can then create a network from that point to another point in your house. Using all the electrical cabling that’s already there. No drilling, sawing, cutting or mess, just simply use what is there.
Here’s an example: Your broadband router is in your office or garage and you have a Smart digital HD TV in your living room.
Now this may be a wireless TV, but you still find that it is not getting enough wireless signal to stream HD and you want to cable it directly to your router. Rather than running this cable across the floor or around your skirting boards or even paying $$$ for an electrician to cable this for you, you can use the cabling that is already in the walls of your house.
Most Powerline adapter kits come with two units and two short network cables to get you started. Plug one in near your router and one near the TV, then just plug the network cables into the network ports on each adapter and then into the port on the TV and into a spare port on the router.
The adapters will detect each other, usually with the touch of a button, and connect almost instantly.
Presto! You have installed a mini-network in your home!
There are adapters that can ‘extend’ your wireless network as well. The second unit will take the signal from the powerline and using its own wireless antenna, will extend or repeat the wireless signal for you. This can be a better solution than using a standard wireless repeater, as many will lose wireless bandwidth or speed as they repeat the wireless signal.
Now, here’s the catch: This may all only work if the powerline units are on the same circuit breaker or power circuit in your house.
It is likely due to the wiring in your house or possibly the type of circuit breakers used in your supply box.
However, there are some manufacturers that seem to indicate that this is not an issue for their product.
All we can advise is to check the manufacturer’s website if you are unsure.
Why should I use a Powerline network?
The main reason most people would want to set up a powerline network is if the current wireless network is not strong enough to reach a certain part of the house. However, another two are consistent speeds and security. Also, this could be a great solution if you do not want to have a wireless network at all.
Your main router might be set up at one part of the house and the kids’ computer / games console / home office devices a few rooms over are struggling to connect, if at all. Using these adapters to set up a powerline network to the study/bedroom is a quick and easy solution.
And it’s more secure than wireless as the network signal is running on the copper wires and cannot be seen / hacked / misused from outside your home. It is not possible for this network to go past your main meter box.
They are also a great idea for connecting any other older devices that do not have built-in wireless capability.
Something to note: it will depend on which kit you buy as to the overall maximum speed capability, which is another topic. Research the unit you are thinking of buying by having a chat to the staff at your chosen retailer or checking the website of the manufacturer.