An easy way to wire your house for Internet: wi-fi power-over-ethernet


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/10/an-easy-way-to-wire-your-house.html


#2

You’re too late, I just put in seven Cat5 runs thanks to our basement renovation.


#3

They call this power-over-ethernet? That seems backward.


#4

This is not power-over-Ethernet – that tech supplies low voltage power to devices over unused pairs in an Ethernet cable so you don’t need to run power drops and Ethernet drops.
This could be called Ethernet-over-powerlines I suppose, but it’s usually called something like powerline networking, etc.


#5

Having a flashback to a decade ago, my mom remodeled her house and of course dutiful son said “sure, I’ll run the cable and cat5.” To. every. room.
After clearing my wiring paths with the electrician, things went smoothly enough… Until the inspector dropped by, and informed me that most of it violated code, and the cable/cat5 had to be rerun. Oh joy, Now most of the walls have been covered up! I think I blocked out how long I spent fishing/rewiring, but I learned an important lesson- never trust a drunk electrician.


#6

Your enthusiastic and repeated use of “power-over-ethernet” makes me think I must be wrong but I’m not. This is Powerline Networking. POE is running juice through Ethernet cables to power networked equipment.


#7

This is not POE, this is PLC - power line communication. And it generally sucks. Every house is wired differently, and every house has different noise sources polluting the power lines. Good luck ever getting close to the speeds they claim.


#8

I tried this in my house and got nowhere. Couldn’t get it to work at all.


#9

When you modulate that nice smooth 60hz sine wave to send data, your electronic equipment will pay the price. Your stereo, home theater equipment, computer… all those things rely on a smooth 60hz signal. If you decide ethernet over power line is for you, save yourself some heartache by also getting line conditioners for all of your electronics. Another consideration is that the attenuated signal can interfere with wireless communication devices. When the state of Nevada tested PLE on their mains, emergency services (police, fire, ambulance, etc) could not communicate with their remote vehicles. Happily sanity prevailed and they discontinued the project. Finally, you should know that fans, washing machines, dishwashers, etc will interfere with performance as will any wiring problems you may have in your home.


#10

if you have plaster walls you may have an expanded metal lath in the walls. Old plaster not so much, anything after the 60s and it became the substrate of choice.

My old place had ‘high tech’ insulation from the 50s or 60s, which included a reflective (aluminum?) layer on one face of it. Totally killed RF transmissions from room to room. Had to mount an outdoor antenna for TV reception.


#11

I concur most whole heartedly.


#12

Is it possible that the parts of the house you wish to connect are on a separate circuit?


#13

Me too. Could not get it to reliably spurt out a wi-fi signal on the same SSID, nor on a separate new one set up specifically, even when the base unit and remote wi-fi unit were plugged in in the same room. Even had TP-link user support guide me, and they ended up saying “return it, it may be faulty” but I have no reason to believe that, as it did work once or twice for a few minutes until I tried to connect another device to the new wi-fi network. It’s still in a box here somewhere and I keep meaning to reset to factory settings (yet again) and try once more. May end up using it just for ethernet and try to connect a spare wi-fi router at the far end.


#14

That did occur to me, but I couldn’t get it to work with the outlets I tried. My best advice is to keep the receipts.


#15

As I said then when this same topic came-up on BoingBoing about two years ago, your success with this (PLE or “powerline Ethernet”) is totally variable from house to house.
I have a family member that lives in a new home built in 2016, and this worked perfectly for bringing the signal from the bottom floor (where the cable modem/router was) up to to the top floor, where we put another wifi access point to extend range.

On the other hand, in my home, which was build in the mid 70s, the exact same gear didn’t work at all. It would work if both adapters were plugged into outlets that were on the same circuit but obviously that doesn’t solve any real problem.

I tried six different brands/models of PLE adapters, and none would work in my house.

In the end I’ve ended up using MOCA (basically Ethernet over cable TV wire simultaneously with the TV signal) - since all the rooms in my house where I need coverage have cable TV connections in them, and I can install a filter to block the signal from leaving my home, I have Ethernet going all through the house over the cable TV wire, and convert it back into a connection using MOCA-to-WIFI or MOCA-to-Ethernet bridges.


#16

I use older PowerLine ethernet units (200mbs) in my condo. Works fantastic. But YMMV.

It is better to buy the starter kit from a retailer you can easily return it to.

Once your main kit is working, you can buy cheaper units, even if they are a different brand as long as they match in protocol version. This mostly means the speed they are rated for.

As people mention, you are unlikely to get the full speed. But, my 200mbs units are plenty fast enough that I never needed to upgrade.


#17

In the UK we have ring mains and I find powerline networking is fine between stations on the same ring. In one large house I had to install several units because there were 4 ring mains.
It is important not to have anything electrically noisy (usually translating as “old and electromechanical”) on the same circuit.


#18

At least you were protected from the guvmint beaming messages into your head.


#19

seconding MOCA. i am now on the 2nd generation kit and looking forward to the 3rd generation where near-gigabit speeds should be possible. coaxial cable is kind of a “no brainer” for communications; powerline is a bit of a hack.

i tried all manner of PLC devices and never had success. the first moca adapters i bought worked flawlessly but only delivered about 80mbit. the 2.0 devices give me about 160mbit.


#20

This is not Power Over Ethernet (PoE) which is a way to power devices with Ethernet cabling and requires specialized power supply and equipment that support being powered this way. What you’re describing here is Power-line Communication (PLC) colloquially “Ethernet over power” and given the marketing name of HomePlug Powerline.

Depending on how your wiring is, it can either work very well – or not at all. It depends on distance, connection points, and so on. The more direct the path, the better. For instance, adjacent rooms on the same circuit can work great. Going across multiple junctions or physical points in a circuit breaker can dramatically reduce throughput. Naturally older wiring or noisy electronics on a circuit can also greatly reduce throughput. Also Powerline adapters typically don’t work when plugged into a surge protector – a whole house surge protector may also defeat them.

There’s also huge security risks – especially in multi-family homes or where you can easily access an outdoor power receptacle. If you use a default configuration, it’s trivial to get onto the network as a rogue device.

Another, possibly better option if your home has rooms wired for cable is to use MoCA adapters instead. These basically allow you to run Ethernet over the coax ports used for cable. These are much more reliable and less susceptible to interference than Powerline. You can also get MoCA Wi-Fi repeaters.

Running Ethernet cabling is really your best option. It’s not really hard to do if you’re even remotely handy but make sure you use cabling rated for in-wall use and check your local electric code (don’t be afraid to call your city/county inspector’s office with questions about this) for gotchas like “must not be within X feet of high voltage wiring” and such. I ran all the rooms in my condo for Cat6 through the attic.

The supplies you need for this project are a long drill bit (6-12") and drill, fish tape, a small drywall saw, “old work” wall boxes, CM rated Cat6 cable, RJ45 ends, wall plates, RJ45 terminal blocks, and a RJ45 crimping tool. The tech stuff you can get from Monoprice for a reasonable price (don’t get Monoprice wall plates though, they really suck) and everything else you can get from any hardware store. If you’re lucky and your rooms are already wired for cable, you may be able to run the Ethernet cabling through the existing holes drilled for cable and then you just need to change out the wall plates. That’ll save some drilling headaches.