Monday, November 12, 2012

Moving to Ethernet over Power

It has been awhile since I last posted, been busy with other commitments.
In this post, I would like to share some recent modifications I made to my home networking.
The original intention was to improve the Wifi performance at home. 
Originally, my laptop (in the study) is covered by the living room's Wifi coverage. 
Whenever I watch online TV or backup its files, my whole place's Wifi connection grinds to a halt. Also, the iPad is rendered useless.
The logical approach would be upgrading all my devices to 802.11n, but it is quite a substantial investment considering my laptop is a four years old Sony VAIO and I still use my iPhone 3GS, both supporting  only 802.11g. 
Also, I tried enabling DLNA on a 802.11n smartphone and streamed it to the WDTV media player. It just repeatingly halted. 
I felt there has to be a better option. 
Setup and two use cases
In large, there are three areas being connected: living area (wifi router), study and the storage room. The idea is to dedicate the Wifi signals to the portable devices (e.g. iPad, iPhone with no SIM).
In parallel, all the "non-internet" traffic are to be carried across the home's power line.
  • (1) For example, I am using ownCloud to backup my photos and personal documents from my laptop (as illustrated by the blue line, "Use Case 1")
  • (2) Likewise, if I would like to display my photos on the LED TV via WDTV media player, then I can share it from either my Laptop or ownCloud (DLNA enabled) – once again, all traffic through the Power line ("Use Case 2".
While all these happen. I can still use my iPad to happily browse the internet (red line), simply because the Belkin Wifi Router is not involved in these use cases.
Some details
If you look at the diagram more closely, there are several small boxes attached to the “Home Power Line” cloud in the center. These are the EoPs' plugs. Their models are Belkin Powerline AV (F5D4070) and TP-Link TL PA-201 respectively. 

This Belkin's support page article describes powerline adapters compatibility. By large, there two standards in the market today. HP 1.0 and HP AV. 

My working combination of Belkin and TP-Link are running on the older Home Plug 1.0 standard. This standard supports up to 85Mbps throughput. 

Originally, I bought a newer pair of Belkins Homeplug AV running on HPAV standard. Unfortunately, these newer plugs cannot detect other HP1.0 devices over the power line.

Further technical details
  • The people on Whirlpool forum have done a much better job than myself analyzing Ethernet over Power products available in the market. It’s worth a read if you are considering using it for your home.
  • I am no electrical engineer, but I do suspect my results may have to do with multiple phases and circuits, as detailed in this Intellon Whitepaper. Cross phase coupling is still good technical information.

Glad to hear what you think or your experiences.


  1. power line hardware is seen as the most complex part of any design.

  2. Perhaps I am making this more complex than it should be, as the technology was meant to be for simply plug and play.

    Obviously, in my case there has been a bit of trial and error involved.