Power line technology has actually been around for many years, but until recently, just didn’t deliver the performance required for today’s data hungry applications. A power line network requires at least two adapters and each adapter must be plugged into a wall outlet (i.e., power strips and extension cords cause too much interference and won’t work). The first adapter is plugged into a wall outlet within reach of your router or switch. A standard Ethernet cable connects this first adapter to your router or switch. The second adapter is plugged into a wall outlet in your far away location. The two adapters find each other and establish a connection via your existing electrical wiring. Now any Ethernet device can be plugged into the second adapter, such as a computer, printer, or wireless access point, and deliver useful network connectivity to those devices. Some Power line adapters come with multiple Ethernet ports, built in wireless, and a power outlet so that other electrical devices can still be plugged in. Power line adapters typically cost between $50.00 and $100.00 for a pair. Once established, more adapters can be added to your Power line network.
The strength of the signal between adapters is dependent on the quality of the electrical wiring itself. Improper wiring and circuit breakers can negatively affect the performance, as can noise that certain home appliances such as fans, vacuum cleaners, or washers and dryers generate in the power grid. Also, adapters from different vendors generally don’t work well together. In all cases, start with a set of two and make sure they work well before investing in more adapters.
I personally have experience with the TP-Link AV1200 and Netgear PL1200 and they both work well. I used the TP-Link with a customer who built a home office in their stand-alone garage far away from their main home structure with no ability to run new wiring into the garage. The Netgear is actually in use in my own home together with an Apple Airport Express to provide a great wireless connection to my farthest away bedroom that couldn’t get a strong enough wireless connection for streaming video.
If you have experience with the most recent Power line products, please share your thoughts so that my other customers may benefit from your insights.