Products For Home Networks
Most vendors that produce home networking products sell Powerline products of their own, usually as individual units or in kits that include at least two Powerline units. Assuming that the outlets using the Powerline adapters are on the same electrical circuit, a home user just needs to connect their first Powerline adapter to their router. Once connected, and depending on the manufacturer, there may be some management console-based configuration needed (or not, as some vendors have simplified the setup process to just a push of a button).
Amongst the major players in the Powerline game, network speeds range between 200 and 2000 Mb/s and can reach out to distances from 300 to 500 square meters. Powerline adapters, depending on the make and model, can also include a variety of additional features including:
- Wi-Fi range extension to help extend the reach of your wireless network.
- Pass-through power outlet to help make up for the loss of an available power source.
- One to four 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet jacks that can go out to a network ready device, such as a computer or a network switch.
- Up to 128-bit AES encryption to protect your data.
- Energy-saving capability that powers down the Powerline adapter when it’s not in use.
- LED lights that can display power, connection status and network activity.
- Factory reset button to restore the Powerline devices to their default settings.
When using Powerline at home, there are a few factors to consider. Since homes come in all different shapes, sizes and age, the wiring behind the walls may not provide the best level of conductivity, and can prove to be a limiting factor in performance. Additionally, some larger home appliances like laundry washers and dryers may reduce network speed due to power fluctuations caused by their demands. Also, if the home is already using HomePlug 1.0 Powerline products, HomePlug AV and AV2 will not be able to communicate with devices using the older standard, although they can co-exist on the same circuit. Lastly, it’s not recommended to connect a Powerline device to a power strip or surge protector as the filtering circuits within the strip can interfere with the product’s network communication.
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Matthew Matchen is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @matchemm