Thursday

Powerline Ethernet Steps Up To Bat

Wi-Fi is a funny thing - and not funny "haha". We have a small home, a ranch with a basement. Our cable Internet service comes into the basement, and the wireless access point (WAP) is down there too.

Our home desktop computer is located almost diagonally opposite from the WAP and upstairs (i.e. on the main floor). The Internet performance has always been poor up there. I have tried a fair bit of re-positioning within that room, installed a wireless extender in there, changed channels and so on, with little effect. 


Annoyingly, while the Wi-Fi signal is good/great, the actual performance can be horribly slow - almost dial up slow at times. It's an ISP-provided WAP, and I don't think it's particularly good to start with. Other wireless devices in the home work acceptably, if not great. I also recently upgraded the home PC, and the wireless performance in that room was still poor.

I am not going to scramble around and pull cable; been there, done that. I had thought of purchasing a different/better WAP, but I settled on a powerline networking device for around $70. It comes as a "kit" with two nodes. One plugs into an AC outlet near the router, and also plugs into the router/modem via a (provided) network cable. 

The second node plugs into an AC outlet near the computer, and also connects to the computer with another network cable. The actual network connection is passed through the electrical wiring of the home, and is also encrypted. Powerline Ethernet works out to be faster than most wireless, but not as fast as hard-wired Ethernet - as you might expect.

So far it has been working great, and the set setup is absolutely minimal - basically plug the devices in and connect the network cables.  You can add nodes later if needed, although I don't anticipate that in our situation.

A decent quality, higher-powered wireless access point would probably have cost twice as much, and a wireless mesh system (another option I considered briefly) would have been more expensive yet.


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