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Using HomePlug devices to build a network

The main reasons why people look at using Homeplugs are to do with the failings of Wireless Networks. Wireless networks have flourished due to their simplicity and convenience but they do not always work in every situation.

If your Wireless network isn't letting you stream your HD content to your Home Theatre PC fast enough or you just can't connect wirelessly to your Xbox since it's too far away from the router, then think about using the HomePlug/Powerline Adapters. HomePlugs are adapters that plug into you electricity sockets and use the electrical wiring that's already built into your home, giving you an instant and high speed network in minutes with very little effort.

HomePlug Speed

There are currently 3 options available for speed but be warned that devices rated at the same level are not always going to give you the same performance.

Speed Rating Approximate time for a 700MB Movie to transfer at full speed Comments
14Mb/s 7 mins These are typically older devices but you can still find some of them for sale. Stay away from these devices if you want to start streaming movies or transferring large amounts of data around your network.
85Mb/s 1.5 mins You are more likely to get a speed of around 25-60Mb/s with these but they are still fast enough to cope with HD video but not if you want to stream multiple HD videos concurrently.
200Mb/s 30 seconds If you can afford it, go with these as they will give you all you need for multiple HD video streams if you ever need it. The approximate speed of transfer you will get with these is supposed to be around 144Mb/s but again, this depends on your environment.

 

Homeplug Devices

Everyone will have different requirements for their home network and you may only need around 2-4 devices at most in your home that you wish to connect to each other at high speed or just use something which isn't wireless. Please remember that this will not speed up your internet connection as you will still be limited by your broadband provider.

Example Device image Device Type Comment
HomePlug Single Ethernet attachment Single network connection HomePlug. Useful for connecting rooms which operate single PC's/Games Consoles etc to you Router. To expand this into more devices in that room, you could purchase a Hub/Switch to give 4,8 or 16 network connections for the same price as buying another HomePlug adapter.
HomePlug device with multiple network Connections Multiple Network Connection HomePlug Despite the fact that this particular model won't win any beauty prizes, having a multiple network point Homeplug may remove you need to buy an extra hub or switch as per the example above.
HomePlug Device with 4 port Switch HomePlug with built in 4 port Switch A variation on that above. A pair of these particular Netgear devices allows you to connect up to 8 machines, 4 in each location.
HomePlug with ADSL Router Homeplug with ADSL Router If you want one less device to worry about in your house, this performs 3 jobs as it will replace you current Wireless G router, it is also a homeplug and has is a 4 port switch built in. Probably not worth buying though as most ADSL routers come free with your broadband supplier.

 

N.B. Be careful if you are mixing and matching devices on your networks with different brands or speeds as there not always be compatible. For instance,14Mb/s and 85Mb/s are compatible with each other but not compatible with the 200Mb/s HomePlugs. Netgear's 200Mb/s devices are apparently not compatible with other 200Mb/s Homeplugs as they use a different standard etc.

Encryption

As with Wireless Networks, Homeplug Networks also need to use encryption. The reason for this is that your electrical wiring doesn't stop at your house but continues along your street and goes into your neighbours houses, effectively giving them access to your home network. In the UK, we use 3 phase power supplies. For your average house, only one of those phases are used and your next door neighbour may run on a different phase. Larger buildings may have all 3 phases connected. The point is though that 1 in 3 people up to a certain distance could gain access to your network. To get around this, the manufacturers have implemented encryption on these devices such that in will protect the data on your network.

Some of the older devices use 56bit AES encryption. These are crackable with a bit of effort especially if you use a really simple password. The newer devices use 128bit AES encryption an this has been classified by the National Security Agency (NSA) as good enough to protect information up to the "Secret" level so that's probably enough for the average person.

 

 

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