Powerline Adapter – A Smart Alternative to Wi-Fi



Illustration: Gordon McAlpin
So you need the speed, bandwidth and low latency of wired Internet speeds at your home. Say you’ve got a machine well away from your router or cable modem, on a different floor of your home, let’s say. You’ve tried the fastest Wi-Fi there is — Wireless-N — and it’s just not good enough. Or, the signal won’t reach that far. There’s another solution that I recently discovered for my own apartment, and it might just help you optimize the Internet in your own home. It’s called a Powerline Adapter.

The Powerline adapter is a relatively recent invention. It comes in two pieces. One plugs into an outlet and plugs into your Internet router or modem with an Ethernet cable. The other piece plugs into another outlet near your computer or other Internet divice, and likewise plugs into that divice with an Ethernet cable. The Internet signal is then transmitted through the outlet from one place to the other!

In actuality, Internet is now available in any outlet of your home, provided you’ve got more boxes. It cost me $70 for a source adapter and a destination adapter, and additional destination adapters are about $40 apiece.

According to the comments on the Amazon page of the device I chose, you’re going to be looking at speeds of about 60% of what you’d get if you were sitting right next to your modem with the machine plugged right into it. However (depending on your Internet plan, of course), 60% of wired Internet speed is still well above Wireless-N. Plus, Internet through the powerline is much more reliable than wireless, which tends to fade in strength or get disconnected a lot, regardless of where you are.

These powerline adapters are especially good if you’ve got an Xbox on another floor, have a guest with a laptop two floors up from your Wi-Fi, or are trying desperately to stream an HD movie from one corner of the house to the other.

Here’s the device I use. If you’re not in the U.S., check your country’s Amazon page or electronics shop to find a similar device that will work for you.

This is a great compromise between having to string long cables from your modem or router, and having to deal with Wi-Fi issues. Good luck with it!

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  • JB

    Do the two adapters need to be on the same power circuit?

  • http://www.reviversoft.com Steve

    As long as all adapters see the same transformer from the power company, they will transmit Internet to each other. They don’t need to be on the same circuit.

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