Power-line networking for your home

By jobeard
Jan 9, 2009
  1. While not as well known or widely used as Wi-Fi or Ethernet, power-line networking -- using your existing home electrical wiring to transmit data, turning every outlet in your house into a potential network connection -- can be a lifesaver when Wi-Fi won’t reach or when you can’t (or won’t) run Ethernet cabling.

    When you need it
    Whether power-line networking is better than Wi-Fi or Ethernet for a particular application depends on several factors: how much speed you need, how solid the connection needs to be, how much you can afford and how good your house’s wiring is.

    Compared with Ethernet, power-line networking reaches anywhere in the house without running new wires but is much slower. The latest power-line gear is rated at 200Mbit/sec., or about 100Mbit/sec. in real-world usage. That’s about the same as 802.11n Wi-Fi but only one-tenth the speed of Gigabit Ethernet. Pricewise, power-line may actually be cheaper than running Ethernet cable between distant rooms.

    Networking remote locations Power-line networking is perfect for providing access in areas of the house where your Wi-Fi signal is weak or nonexistent and where it’s too inconvenient or expensive to run Ethernet.

    Video streaming Power-line adapters can provide reliable bandwidth for video streamers and game consoles in your living room. Power-line throughput is not as high as with Gigabit Ethernet, but it’s high enough for HD video (which requires up to 25Mbit/sec.)

    Extending Wi-Fi access Need Wi-Fi in that attic suite or apartment over the garage where your main base station doesn’t reach? You can buy hardware that combines a power-line adapter with a wireless access point (see below). This means that you can create a Wi-Fi net almost anywhere there’s a wall plug. You could also plug a Wi-Fi access point (such as an AirPort Express configured in access point mode) in to a power-line adapter.

    see the details
    (yes the article contains the word Mac; ignore it as the technology works everywhere)
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