Retro Future Electrics

A page about retro electronics, from the introduction of electricity until 1970-something. We refit old gadgets with new tech, and wonder at the makers who came before us.

Power Line Networking, a lot better than 10 years ago!

Here at RFE central, we live in a 2,000 SqFt (185SqM) house made from steel reinforced concrete. It’s not the friendliest to Wi-Fi, and darn near impossible (especially as a rental) to run Ethernet cables everywhere we’d like. We had cabling between an upstairs and downstairs Wi-Fi access point, but that didn’t quite make it to several rooms with acceptable speeds. It was recommended that we use power line networking, specifically the AV500 (and then later the AV2000) standard of networks. These networks are “home plug” compatible (read the details at Wikipedia here: Wiki Home Plug Article ) The great part is that these devices work with each other, just like you expect your apple phone to connect to your d-link Wi-Fi, you can buy any HomePlug compatible plugs and have them extend your network.

 

We started using TP-Link AV500 devices, just two. One plugged into the switch upstairs and into the 100V AC power line. The other was located downstairs to run the Wall-O-Matic. The reported data rate was 45Mbit, not quite 1Gbit Ethernet, but the connection was stable, and 45Mbit is more than enough to stream music and commands from the Wall box. After a while of using one link, I wondered about using more. As you know if you’ve read our Wallbox article, we have a Sonos music system set up, it works over Wi-Fi; however, it will multicast at the lowest rate. We had one speaker in the back-laundry room that just barely held up connection, and this impacted our whole Wi-Fi network as up to half the transmit time would be taken up streaming music to this box at 1Mbit. Well the power line network was a success. In fact, we added several of the AV2000 devices to run all the Sonos’ that couldn’t be plugged into a switch directly. It turns out the jukebox was the worst position, as many others had a data rate of ~500Mbit! It was reliable enough that we even put an old Wi-Fi access point on it in the back so we have Wi-Fi in that laundry now over the power line.

 

In short, I highly recommend power line network tech at this time. As with Wi-Fi you should figure about 10% of the claimed max speed in use. (If it says AV500 500M, figure on 50Mbit, on the AV2000, figure 200 Mbit) You may get better in practice, and 50Mbit at a reliable speed is plenty for gaming and even 4k HD streaming (25Mbit min recommended).

 

The units I personally own can be purchased from Amazon for under $100 a pair, I recommend the AV2000+ ones unless you are really tight on money or have a known low (under 10Mbit) use, the bonus of the slower ones is size, the TP-link unit is small, the others are quite a bit larger.

D-link AV2000 Model

TP-link AV600 model

Zyxel AV2000 pass-through model

 

The TP link is the nicest because of the small size, the others look large on their plugs. They work well, but are big!

 

Pros:

– Easy to set up.

— Most initial sets are configured right out of the box, as you add more you need to press a button on both units to share the security key, or if you live out in the boonies just let them go unsecure

– Fast for working over a power line!

— Slowest unit I have is 45Mbit, fastest unit is over 500Mbit (note the utility is a little optimistic with its 2250 speeds, that’s not the speed I get at the application layer).

 

 

Cons:

– Lag can be variable in some situations

— my worst unit sometimes has pings that can vary from 3.5ms to 233ms, may not be great for critical gaming.

— This is a worst-case scenario, a unit with good connection shows min 3.3 and max 13ms

 

 

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