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Powerline Networking 101

HomePlug AV2

The immediate observable difference between HomePlugAV and HomePlugAV2 is the marketing of gigabit-class speeds. To clarify though, the gigabit speed is at the PHY layer which really just means you get gigabit connectivity, not gigabit throughput. Other key advances include:

  • Increased bandwidth through use of higher band spectrum
  • MIMO
  • Inherent repeater functionality
  • Power save mode

Underneath these advancements, the core mechanisms such as the PHY, MAC, and Central Coordinator remain the same.

Features and Data Rates of HomePlug AV and HomePlug AV2

Having almost three times the band in which to operate allows for multiple HD streams and more bandwidth-intensive usage. HomePlug AV2 also utilizes beamforming, which is what allows for better transmission channel adjustments such as OFDM. In addition, MIMO enables the Powerline adapter to use any two wires in a three-prong outlet for transmission, whereas HomePlug AV always uses the line-neutral pair. Extended coverage is also more likely without having to purchase an extra Powerline adapter since each AV2 node has inherent repeater functionality.

Line-Neutral Pair (left) vs. Three-Prong (right) outlet configurations

From an efficiency perspective, Powerline adapters built according to the HomePlug AV2 specification have a sleep mode to prevent unneeded power draw. Until activated to transmit data, a Powerline adapter enters a sleep state with specified times to awake to check for any data transmission requests. The HomePlug AV2 logo has been revised, so you won't be able to tell just by the logo whether the Powerline adapter you're purchasing maps to that specification. Be sure to look at the specs listed on the side or back of the box for verification!

  • wtfxxxgp
    I love these things. Saved me headaches and hassles to get my online gaming setup going without having to run long cables or relying on crappy wifi dongles
    Reply
  • Xivilain
    This is one of those great niche products that not a lot of folks hear about. Definitely a look at for people with "bomb shelter" style basements with concrete and metal materials, where WiFi cannot reach.
    Reply
  • videobear
    From Newegg customer reviews, performance of even the latest powerline equipment is far inferior to ethernet or even wifi. Plus the units have massive quality control issues. Not interested.
    Reply
  • Onus
    Interesting about the valid specification names. I'll have to check the compliance level of what I'm using. I have a kit with one ethernet connector on one end (plugs in near my router), and four on the other end (my wife uses one, and my testbench gets the others): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA24G15V0949 which is no longer available, but looks similar to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833124482 which is. They run more reliably and faster than a cheap PCI wireless card, which is better than a USB dongle. This is despite the fact that they are plugged in on different sections of a manufactured home, which means they're going through an additional junction box between the sections.
    Reply
  • coupe
    "Assuming that the outlets using the Powerline adapters are on the same electrical circuit, ..."

    I think this part should be brought to attention more. Most people who are looking to implement a powerline setup might be confused about this limitation.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    I always thought that powerline tech was cool! And it is cool, but to run it well you need a house with nice electrical wiring. One of my houses had two 220V (or was it 120V, I forgot) outlets, so the powerline Ethernet wouldn't work on one half of the house lol.

    If you plan to use these, make sure you know where your powerlines are going.
    Reply
  • Redraidr12
    @videobear Mine works wonderfully.
    Reply
  • shadycuz
    "Assuming that the outlets using the Powerline adapters are on the same electrical circuit, ..."

    I think this part should be brought to attention more. Most people who are looking to implement a powerline setup might be confused about this limitation.

    They work across Circuit breakers. Most houses only have one Circuit. Breakers "break" that circuit down into manageable pieces so if a device acts up, your whole house doesn't loose power, just that room.
    Reply
  • Supermuncher85
    Yeah love these things. Just keep in mind that if you do have a backup generator, it will not jump between circuits. Lesson I learned the hard way.
    Reply
  • quadrider21
    Great artical, I'd like to know a little more about what the security button does.
    Do all three of these standards support security measures?
    Reply