The Netgear Powerline 500 uses Ethernet over Power technology to solve wife range problems in the home. Ethernet over Power technology has been around several years. With numerous products on the market designed for the home and small office there is a large selection of competing brands to choose from at a very affordable price. I am a disappointed in myself for not thinking of this sooner. Unlike modern homes today which are built with technology and digital entertainment in mind, my 28-year-old home is not equipped with ethernet jacks in every room. In fact, I am writing this article from my office on the only computer in the house with a wired, ethernet connection. All of the family's laptops, PC's, and mobile devices rely on the latest Cable Modem / Router provided by Comcast.
What is Ethernet over Power?
How does the Netgear Powerline 500 Work?
Netgear Powerline 500 Adapter
Ethernet over Power (not to be confused with Power over Ethernet or PoE) offers you a rock solid network connection in situations where WIFI just isn't cutting it in your home or office. With Ethernet over Power you are provided with two or more RJ45 Network adapters. The Netgear Powerline 500 comes with two adapters, two Ethernet cables, and documentation. One adapter is plugged directly into your wall outlet. An RJ45 Cable is connected between the adapter and your router. The other adapter is connected to the power outlet near the remote PC. An RJ45 cable goes between the adapter and the remote computer's Ethernet port. Once connected, you have a rock solid network connection between the wired PC and the router with absolutely no dependence on WIFI range, distance or limitations. The Netgear Powerline 500 works completely independent of your router's WIFI. Using Ethernet over Power is basically as good as an RJ45 connection.
Why use Ethernet over Power instead of WIFI?
The modem/router combo unit that Comcast provided me is supposedly the very latest and was designed to address the numerous complaints from customers about limited WIFI capabilities around the house. Despite being designed with the very latest WIFI capabilities and adequate, advertised range, the Comcast router still drops connections on other, distant WIFI devices, particularly on my son's PC which is a fair distance away and separated by a couple of walls and different floor level. This problem continued even after my son changed his computer from the upstairs bedroom to a closer downstairs bedroom and was well within the acceptable range of the router. His internet performance was extremely show even after trying three different network cards; and even when his WIFI status shows that his connection was rated as excellent. I was about to try a fourth network card when I remembered a similar situation at my school. Teachers relied on various routers throughout the building for WIFI on their laptops. We all had problems with very slow performance and losing our connection. The only exceptions were those laptops that were located in the same room as the router or at the very least on the same floor, in close proximity. In our case, we had to have additional routers installed which involved some additional and somewhat complicated setup from our IT professional. While it might be worthwhile to do this at a school or office, it might not be practice for a home situation. You might ask, why not just have an Ethernet drop installed in your house? The answer is cost and convenience. Either you'll have to be handy drilling holes and dropping cables through them yourself, or you will have to pay someone anywhere from $85.00 to $200.00 per line drop. What does it cost to get a couple of Powerline Adapters, instead?
Netgear Powerline 500 Cost and Performance
I chose the Netgear Powerline 500 because it was the only Ethernet over Power product available at my local Best Buy Store at a reasonable price. There are other, cheaper powerline adapters with very good ratings, but I was not able to find any of them locally. Still, I paid only $55.00 for the Netgear Powerline 500. In other words, I paid roughly half the price of what it would cost to have a line dropped in the house. Even the line drop is a somewhat limited solution. Would if you were wanting to move the computer to another location or room? As its name implies, the Netgear Powerline 500 offers network speeds of up to 500Mbps. Real-world tests indicate that these kinds of speeds are not actually achieved, but it really doesn't matter. The Netgear Powerline 500 blows away the speed of any 100Mbps wired connection and is way faster than any internet connection of today will require. Now, you might be asking, why don't all businesses use Ethernet over Power technology instead of wiring cabling all throughout their buildings? This might have to do with the actual speed limitations. Businesses today, are looking ahead at the very fastest connection speeds available, including things like Fiber and PoE. Power over Ethernet or PoE is basically a way of transmitting power over existing data lines for maximum speed and connectivity. There are other, faster and more expensive Ethernet over Power products that might find its way into enterprise and data center markets, but as of today, this technology is mostly desired by home users and small office environments. While I am not aware of speed and distance limitations of Ethernet over Power technology, I am sure there is much information to be found online in case you are curious.
Does it Really Work?
Connecting the Netgear Powerline 500 was probably the simplest and fastest hardware installation I have ever made. Unlike setting up WIFI devices, Ethernet over Power requires absolutely no connection or security settings on the computer or router because you are hard wiring into your router. It is as much plug-and-play simplicity as you can possibly get. While other users have complained of a little hitch or two getting it going, I had no such trouble at all. The instant I plugged my son's computer and ethernet cable into the powered Netgear adapter and his Ethernet jack on the back of his computer, he was connected to the internet. Since making the Netgear Powerline 500 installation 3 weeks ago, my son's internet connection has remained fast and connected 24-7.