Tuesday 20 December 2016

Extend Your Network With Powerline Adapters

Powerline adapters have been around for a while now in various formats. A powerline adapter lets you use your home's electrical wiring to transmit/receive network traffic to places where you have no other network connection or wifi signal.

Recently I purchased a pair of HooToo AV600 powerline adapters to see how well they worked. HooToo claims speeds of up to 600mb/s can be achieved using their product, and they are safe to use as the pairing process protects the traffic while travelling through your electrical wiring.

To be fair, HooToo does mention the state of your home's electrical wiring will affect performance. In my case I was able to achieve about 65mb/s, just over 10% of the top end claim from HooToo. Given my home was built in the 80's I admit the wiring may not be optimal for ethernet-over-power. 

What I really liked about the HooToo product is it includes a pass-though electrical socket on the front, so you don't actually lose an electrical outlet with their system. Not all powerline adapters do this, so you can lose the ability to plug in a device with some of the competition.

The biggest complaint I had with the HooToo devices is the instructions they ship with for pairing are wrong. HooToo needs to fix this as I'm sure it's led to purchaser frustration. That said, it's not insurmountable.

To pair the devices you plug in the first adapter close to your router or switch and connect an ethernet cable from the adapter to the router/switch.

Next you plug in the second unit wherever you want service in your home. On the unit by your router you press the "Pair" button for about 2 seconds, then go to the 2nd unit. Press the "Pair" button on the second unit for about 2 seconds.

That's it, your units should now be paired and you can plug an ethernet cable in to the 2nd unit and use it to connect a computer, media server, anything you want. 

If you don't have really fast wifi in your home this might be a cheap way to overcome performance barriers without investing in a mesh wifi system.

The HooToo system is expandable, meaning you can purchase and add additional adapters, placing them wherever you want in your home.

Overall I'm happy with the experiment. The pair of adapters cost $50CDN on Amazon, and just under $37USD if you live in the USA.

If you've got just 1 or 2 problem spots connecting a desktop computer or media server this is a pretty inexpensive way to get the speed you need.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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