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Ethernet over Power line adapters: Your best friend when WiFi just doesn't cut it.

WiFi is great! Wifi is everywhere!  Except when it's not!  Even the best of WiFi routers have zones in your home or apartment that are just too much for them to handle.  It could be interference, it could be that the walls are too thick, a bad angle, other obstacles in the way, or just that your device simply doesn't have a sensitive antenna.  When all that you want to do is watch some Netflix or play some Call of Duty and your signal is low to nonexistent, it can be an extremely frustrating experience.  So what is the solution for this problem?

Should you have to run ethernet cables through your home and damage your walls with staples and drilling?  The answer is no.  There is a solution called Ethernet over Powerline that is as easy as plug and play and can save you hours of manual labor running wires.

What is Ethernet over Powerline?

As per Wikipedia:

Home networking (LAN)

Power line communications can also be used in a home to interconnect home computers and peripherals, and home entertainment devices that have an Ethernet port. Powerline adapter sets plug into power outlets and establish an Ethernet connection using the existing electrical wiring in the home. (Power strips with filtering may absorb the power line signal.) This allows devices to share data without the inconvenience of running dedicated network cables.
The most widely deployed powerline networking standard is from the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. HomePlug AV is the most current of the HomePlug specifications and was adopted by the IEEE 1901 group as a baseline technology for their standard, published 30 December 2010. HomePlug estimates that over 45 million HomePlug devices have been deployed worldwide. Other companies and organizations back different specifications for power line home networking and these include the Universal Powerline AssociationSiConnect, the HD-PLC Alliance, Xsilon and the ITU-T’s specification.

To put it into simpler terms, it is an adapter that allows you to run your ethernet connection through the existing power lines in your home by simply plugging it into an available electrical outlet.  Plug in a network cable from your router to the adapter and finally plug that adapter into an electrical outlet.  The second adapter is then plugged into an outlet in the other part of your home where you need your connection. Attach your ethernet connection from the adapter directly into the device that needs it.  If everything works correctly, you then have a hard line connection that you can take virtually anywhere in your home with the advantage of hard wired speed and minimal interference in your signal.

Flow chart illustrating how a Powerline adapter is set up

In my case, my Playstation 3 is stuck on an old "WiFi G" connection.  There is no way to update it to the "N" or "AC" WiFi standards to expand on the range and speed of its connection so online play can be frustrating. Adding the Ethernet to Powerline adapter solved that issue completely.

If one ethernet connection is not enough due to multiple devices or devices that don't have ethernet ports, fear not.   There are Ethernet over Power line adapters that have WiFi routers built into them, extending the range of your WiFi signal and providing you with a hard line connection.  It's a win/win situation.

If this sounds like a great solution, the adapters can be found online for as little as $40.  Depending on speed and add on capabilities (like WiFi) the prices will go up.


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