PowerLine Networking: Your first Rule for Success

Setting up a PowerLine network is so easy, it’s not even worth re-mentioning it. And figuring out just how fast your connection is going to be is just as simple: The two prevailing PowerLine speeds, 200 Mbps and 500 Mbps, tell you what network throughput to expect right on the label. Plug ’em in, fire up your PowerLine network, and you’re good to go.

However, to make the most of PowerLine, you must follow this number 1 rule: Do not mix and match PowerLine devices that operate at different speeds. You should not add a 500 Mbps adapter to a network built on 200 Mbps PowerLine devices, for example. And you definitely shouldn’t connect a legacy 85Mbps adapter to your brand-new 500Mbps PowerLine setup.

Why not? In a conventional wired network, a fast Ethernet device on a Gigabit network limits speed only to and from the slower device. But on a PowerLine setup running at, say, 500 Mbps, devices that use a standard like HomePlug 1.0 — which maxes out at speeds of 14 Mbps — will create problems. Essentially, mixing speeds establishes two separate PowerLine networks that run simultaneously on the same electrical infrastructure. Devices connected to adapters running at one speed can’t see devices running at the other.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution: Invest in a few new adapters that support a 500 Mbps connection and add them into your existing 500 Mbps-based PowerLine network. If you follow this simple rule, you’ll be able to transform any conventional power outlet into a fully functioning Ethernet port. No holes to drill and no cables to run. Couldn’t be simpler, right?

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