Join Lynda.com Staff Authors for an in-depth discussion in this video Using powerline networking, part of Home Techonomics.
- I think it's pretty safe to say that if you're watching me right now, you have an internet connection. These days most of us have wi-fi, which is pretty much a requirement if you have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop in your home. However, many people still face a common problem where the wi-fi signal coming from their router doesn't reach every corner of their house. Now, there are many ways to solve this problem. You can get a device called a wi-fi repeater or bridge, to extend your network, but depending on the size of your house, the material in your walls, and additional factors that can cause interference, you may still have trouble getting connected to your network in certain locations.
You might also be trying to use an older computer that doesn't have a wi-fi adapter and can only accept a wire connection to get online. I think a commonly overlooked solution in these types of situations is a power line adapter. These are relatively inexpensive devices that turn your homes electrical wiring into network cables and they provide a more reliable connection than wireless connections. They're also incredibly easy to set up. They come in pairs and you simply plug one of the units into a wall outlet near your router and then run a network cable from your router to the unit.
Next, take the other unit and plug it into an outlet in the room where you need a network connection and run another cable from it to the computer. That's it, your computer is now connected directly to your router through your homes electrical wiring. Now I should mention that in some cases, power line adapters only work when plugged into outlets on the same circuit breaker. If you're in a home or apartment building with multiple breakers, these might not work for you, but in my experience most power line adapters will still work between breakers as long as they're in the same building. Now also keep in mind that since this is just like connecting a computer directly to the router, you can connect other devices that accept network connections, such as a network enabled hard drive or even a network switch, so that you can connect multiple computers or devices to your router.
Now, the speed of the data between devices depends on the model of power line adapter you purchase. The set I have in my home from Netgear is a few years older and it tops out and 85 megabytes per second, which is more than enough speed to handle the top speed of my home internet connection, which in my case maxes out at 50 megabytes per second, but if one of your goals is to connect a computer to your network so that it can transfer files to other computers on your network, you should consider investing in power line adapters that provide faster speeds. You can find power line adapters that allow for anywhere from 200 to 600 megabytes per second these days.
So if you're in a situation where you need to get a network connection to an area of your house your wi-fi can't reach, and you don't want to string cables through rooms and down hallways, you should take advantage of the cables that are already behind your walls and pick up a set of power line network adapters. That does it for this week. I'm Gary Chow. See you next time on Home-Techonomics.