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June 27, 2017

Home Networking – Wireless vs Wired

by GFR2

New build houses in the UK still haven’t caught up fully with technology, they have lots of power sockets, built-in wiring for Satellite services, USB charging sockets in the plugs, ADSL split faceplates with no need for additional filters but still no RJ-45 network points.

Most people have a PC or laptop, games consoles, streaming boxes etc but we are very reliant on wireless, which in any building can be hit or miss unless you get the right kit and extend and boost.

Powerline adaptors are a step in the direction to overcome these problems but they aren’t perfect and can cause issues themselves.  Simple concept, send the data over the mains wiring in your house.

The first gen of powerline adaptors were basic, they did the job but quite often needed resetting and repairing.

Newer versions have been released and upgraded, the connection speeds of these have increased and has reliability, to a point.

Newer models allow power pass-through and some have built-in wi-fi extenders but there is something they don’t have yet and that’s a powerline with a built-in 4 or 8 port switch – I have multiple devices (home office and entertainment centre) and they work best with wired connections so I have to run switches off powerline adaptors to connect all my devices.

I run some TPLINK AV500 powerline adaptors (for the switch connected outlets and the router connection) along with the odd AV200 adaptor for single devices in a room.

One thing that these devices claim is creating its own secure private network – in my previous house I noticed internet slowdowns at various times (very noticeable when your ADSL connection was only 4Mbps) and what did I find?

My neighbour’s PC was on my network, he had powerline adaptors and they had attached to mine – so following instructions all my powerline adpators were removed and re-paired.  What happened a couple of days later, yep his powerline adaptors reconnected to mine.

So how do we fix this? Simple, set a DHCP reservation on the router for his PC and then wrote a firewall rule to block access to everything, both internally and externally – that worked and stopped him!

So fast forward a year and a different house, powerlines are working well and no issues with anyone randomly connecting, but the house has some wireless black spots and a single room where there is plenty of signal but wireless is sluggish or unresponsive.

So even with my vast network experience and knowledge I thought I’d see what would happen if I acted like a home user so I asked 2 major players what they’d suggest.

TP-LINK contacted me and asked basic networking questions then made a couple of  recommendations and D-LINK made assumptions and suggested a device. (Excellent customer support from TP-LINK).

TP-LINK‘s suggested one of 2 devices

  • A single WiFi Adapter – TL-WPA4220 Running on wireless/b/g/n up to 300Mbps but with 2 additional Ethernet ports (for local devices) and powerline connection. Total cost around £37 from Amazon.
  • Superspeed kit TL-WPA8630P, which is a 2 part powerline kit including a Wifi extender including 1Gbps ethernet, and both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi.  Total cost is an eye watering £95 from Amazon.

D-LINK suggested using a DAP-1360 a simple Wireless N Range extender option so no extra potentially wasted kit, but no powerline ethernet and does require an extra plug. This runs on wireless b/g/n at speeds up to 300Mbps and costs around £27 from Amazon.

Which one to pick and to use is the question?  For me it’s probably going to be the TL-WPA4220 because TP-LINK took the time to ask me what the issue was plus it means I don’t lose a plug socket and I actually gain an ethernet port too!  Watch this space for an upcoming review.



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