I started my morning off by finding out that my computer located on the second floor of my house was connecting to the wireless that’s all the way downstairs in the basement. As a result, everything was incredibly slow and I could barely understand what was being said on my conference calls (VOIP). After a bit of investigating, I found that the PoE adapter for my upstairs accesspoint had died, which of course left me without a good signal upstairs. Without a compatible PoE injector available in my area, I had to investigate other options. I had been interested in these powerline adapters for some time, but because my house is old (built in the 1890’s), the wiring is old “Knob and Tube”, which is not the best environment for powerline, so I just assumed it wouldn’t work. With no other option to get myself back up and running, I decided to give it a try; knowing that I could take it back if it didn’t work.
In the Box:
After opening the box, you will find a quick start guide in English, Spanish and French, two 6.5ft white ethernet cables (there are no markings to indicate if they are CAT5e or CAT6) and of course the two powerline adapters themselves.
After unboxing everything, it’s time to install the units. This is very simple as it is just a “plug and play” type situation. There is no configuration needed, only pick the outlets you’re going to use and plug them in. Connect the ethernet cable on the unit closest to your router or switch into an available switch port and the other to your device (computer, switch, wireless unit, TV, etc). That’s it.
Reading the quick start guide, it describes the three lights on the front of the unit. The most important light to pay attention to is the “Pick a Plug” LED, as this will tell you how good the connection is between the adapters. According to the manual, the “Pick a Plug” LED states are:
Red – Link rate < 50Mbps (good)
Amber – Link rate > 50 and < 80Mbps (better)
Green – Link rate > 80Mbps (best)
Off – The adapter did not find any other compatible Powerline devices using the same encryption key.
How Well Does It Work?
Let me start this off by saying that my house is just about the worst case scenario for these things. The powerline adapter in my basement which is connected to my router is connected to a brand new power line that I ran specifically for my networking equipment. My computer on the other hand is connected to knob and tube wiring on the second floor of my house. There are a ton of other outlets on this old wiring as well, which would create some interference.
I fully expected to plug the units in and have no connection at all, however after plugging everything in and starting my computer back up (I had to move the plug, so I had to shut down) I was surprised to see that it actually had connected. I cannot fault this particular Powerline adapter for this, because as I said above, my wiring is very old, but I was able to get a connection with the “Pick a Plug” LED showing as RED.
Running a speedtest I was able to get my full internet speed over this adapter, and actually my ping times are lower than what they were with the wireless, even when my upstairs accesspoint was working.
Conclusion and Other Notes:
In conclusion, for me these adapters are working as I expected them to. I never thought that I was going to get anywhere near the 1200Mb/s rating that the box advertises. However, if your house has newer, better wiring than mine and you’re not crossing breakers as well, you will likely have better results. There is a 1000Mb/s model as well (PLP1000) that was about $10 cheaper and probably would have worked just the same for me, as I knew I wouldn’t get the rated speeds anyhow. If you’re in a situation like me, you could save your self $10 and buy the lower rated unit. As far as I can tell, they’re exactly the same.
I decided to write this review because in searching for “Powerline Knob and Tube”, I only found a few forum posts and a couple of reviews that even touched the subject, but nobody gave real test results.
So the question is, should you buy a powerline adapter or a better, faster wireless accessport or router? In a case like mine, you may get better speeds from a new wireless AC accessport or router, however because I don’t have power where my network cable is ran upstairs, I need a PoE capable accessport, and I had none available locally. If you already have decent wireless coverage, spending the money on a better accesspoint may yield better results than the powerline adapters. However, if you have a lot of wireless networks in the area creating interference, you may want to consider going the powerline route. In the end, I will end up with a wireless AC unit upstairs here and the powerline adapter as well.
So in short, Powerline Adapters will work in an old house with knob and tube, just don’t expect the full rated speed.
Where to Buy:
I have put links to both the PLP 1000 and PLP 1200 below. If you pick one up, leave a comment and let me know how it worked out for you!
NETGEAR PLP1000 – http://amzn.to/2bIg9J9
NETGEAR PLP1200 – http://amzn.to/2bQ6mfB