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Powerline Networking | TP-Link Review

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

If you want to extend your secure home computer network then there is nothing better than doing it with wires. What if you don't want Ethernet cables everywhere though? Now you can use a network of Powerline adapters from TP-Link and that is exactly what I did!

TP Link Powerline Adapters

The adapters that I bought and am now using at home are the companies 200Mbps adapters with electrical pass through. This allows you to not only manage your network through the power socket but also make sure that you still have a power point to plug in your computer, server or anything else you need to. 

Being able to have a Powerline adapter which acts as a main power point as well is especially good because HomePlug units do not like being plugged into extension leads. Some do say that they will work, but at the same time they do experience a lot of signal degredation as well.

Today we look at a great product that I use in my own home computer network and we will also look at other extensions for yours.

Powerline Capability

If you can think of something that you would connect to an Ethernet point then you can connect it though your mains power supply. I have two adapters connected to my system with a third on order, connecting my cable router to my main desktop computer in a different room. The third TP-Link Powerline adapters will be for a file server which will be located in a different part of the house and allow backing up across the network; you should never keep your back up server anywhere near your main computer!

A Powerline Network
If you make extensive use of the wireless facility on your router you will notice how the signal degrades as you go into a new room or a different floor; Powerline manufacturers now offer adapters including a Wireless Access Point and 500Mbps "Gigabit Adapters" as part of their range to let you extend your network over a house or other property.

You Really Can build a second wireless hotspot elsewhere in your home.

With a bit of work you can even configure your new wireless Powerline adapter so that your devices never know the difference and there are no new networks to learn.

Easy To Install

The Powerline adapters are so easy to install that if you live in the middle of the country without neighbours for miles around you could simply plug your adapters in and connect the Ethernet. For the rest of us on housing estates or terraced town houses that would leave your Powerline network open to access from your neighbours; but it is so easy to secure your new home computer network from access as well.

In the case of the Ethernet TP-Link range this is done by a single button on the base of each unit, with the adapters plugged in and switched on you need to hold the button for 5 seconds on the first and then the same on the second within 2 minutes. You can even make this easy by plugging your first two units into side-by-side power sockets and re-locate them once they are paired.

Congratulations - You have now created a secure paired link between your adapters! Easy isn't it! If you have done this then the power indication will be on and the Powerline indication (which in our case looks like a little house) will be on.

or Harder to Install

TP-Link Powerline GUI
Powerline adapters come with software to help you connect devices together. Personally I have found this difficult to get on with, but that is quite possibly because I like to get stuck in and ignore little things like instructions. The first problem is that TP-Link changed their chipset suppliers during production of the Powerline range, meaning that some of the software drivers needed to change. The support website for the company does give the new software but for some reason it would not show itself to me for a few days; maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

You can add adapters either by connecting them to a computer or laptop using the enclosed Ethernet patch cable, or by using the pass code on the adapter to be able to control the device remotely. I am still having trouble with one of the adapters as it's password does not want to work, but that is likely my eyes at fault than the Powerline adapter. Passwords on these particular products are located on the unit so that when you plug it in you can not read it.

The Privacy setting on the user interface allows you to rename the network so that others can not get access to it; just like a password on your wi-fi network or wireless router. There are also more in-depth diagnostic options and the facility to factory reset your devices from within the software interface.

Transmission Speeds

Let's take a step back and be honest. You will never, ever, get the full 200Mbps from a Powerline adapter; but then you will never, ever get 300Mbps from a wireless (802.11n) connection either!

A Powerline Speed Test
I have not observed a back-up between units wholly on my home computer network yet, but while accessing the Internet I have noted data rate bursts of 180Mbps which equates to about 22.5MB/s (according to Google's calculator and verified here) and if I am blatently honest.... on a 30MB Internet connection that is not bad.

The speed and quality of your connection though will depend on a few things like the quality of the wiring in your house, whether you are using an extension lead before the adapter and whether your neighbours also have congested Powerline networks. 

200Mbps Ethernet Adapter Kit
Amazon Price: $55.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 28, 2013)
These are exactly the TP-Link Powerline products that I use at home.

Alternatives to Powerline

The use of homeplug adapters is not for everyone, especially if you find that the wiring in your home is not suitable for it or there are lots of other powerline networks in the area which are leaking data into your own power supply. 

One of the things that a homeplug tries to do is be more reliable than a wireless connection for your technology. If you have to rely on a wireless connection then using the less congested 5Mhz wireless frequency (if supported by your router and your technology) is usually a better connection than one running at 2.4Mhz, that is a question for another article here on InfoBarrel though!

Powerline Networking Solves Problems

I find the Powerline network here to be better than relying on the wireless to connect my main desktop computer to the Internet. TP-Link allow you to connect any device to your network anywhere in the house. There is a massive range of TP-Link & Other Powerline Adapters

 available on Amazon which you can use to network your home.

How Do You Network your secure home computer network? Let us know below whether you Powerline (with TP-Link or others) or do it another way!



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