I’m starting a new category in my blog called Home Improvement – basically sharing tips which I’ve learnt through trial and error over 20+ years of doing housework and building a home for my family and my gadgets. In other words, here’s some stuff you might like to know to make your house function a bit better.
Today’s installment – HomePlugs!
I’ve been using WiFi since the days when a G-router cost over $300 (circa 2003) and I think it’s a great thing for everyone.
However, WiFi is not ideal when you need consistent and high bandwidth to move data around the house – ie. when you need to stream videos and music from one room to another, or when you shift your computer to another room only to find that the WiFi signal is very weak.
I’ve faced both situations and the easiest solution is not to wire up your whole house like an office network, but to use HomePlugs.
HomePlugs basically convert your home’s powerlines into a local area network. They plug into wall power sockets and turn each socket into an Ethernet port as long as there’s another HomePlug receiving an Internet data stream.
Sounds very technical?
Well, here’s a simpler explanation.
Diagram from Aztech’s Home Plug website. I’m currently using three HL109Es at home.
1. Plug a Homeplug into a wall power socket and connect it to your modem or router.
2. Plug the other HomePlug into another wall power socket and connect it to your laptop/Xbox 360/desktop computer/whatever with an Ethernet port.
3. Voila! – you have a strong and steady Internet connection with little risk of interference or other people tapping on your signal. Your Internet data is effectively travelling through your home power cables instead of over the air. Your circuit breaker prevents the Internet signal from leaking out of the house.
According to my informal tests, a HomePlug connection provides download speeds identical to when you’re directly plugged into the modem. With HomePlugs reaching 200Mpbs speeds, your broadband connection is unlikely to overwhelm the HomePlugs within the next 5-10 years.
Of course, I still use a wireless router because I often take out my laptop to work at home and I don’t want to be tethered. My HomePlugs are used to provide an Internet connection to my desktop which is now in my balcony, and my Xbox 360, where I play online duels and stream videos.
My only issue with HomePlugs for now is the price. I use three 200mbps units, each which cost S$99, and the more you add to the network, the higher the sunk cost. Price always comes down though, and when IPTV takes off in the near future, you’ll probably get a pair of HomePlugs too.
Perhaps if more people (apart from geeks) knew about HomePlugs, the price would be driven down so much faster. Prices haven’t really changed since the products came onto the local market about 2 years ago.