I’ve been working a lot more from my home office lately and it was getting increasingly challenging during this summer with both kids at home. Okay, let’s be honest, my wife was probably more the distraction :-). When we built our home 4 years ago we were both working from home and built an office specifically for the both of us. 3 dedicated power circuits to the room, hard-wired ethernet to that room x 4, wireless printing, split desks, tile floor, etc., etc. – everything I wanted in my office for convenience.
Fast-forward 4 years. Add 2 kids. Add wife who isn’t working anymore, but maintains a full-time job managing the local community stuff she’s involved in and of course, our family…which she does a fantastic job at I might add! It was just getting too difficult for me. I’ve been relegated to the basement back bedroom. I didn’t want to work in our basement because there were no geek creature comforts and where I put the wireless wasn’t ideal for the room where I would work anyway (hindsight is 20/20 right?). Well, I couldn’t fight it anymore. One trip to Ikea to get a desk add-on to a piece of furniture she already had in her scrapbook/activity room and I had a desk (and a new chair). It hasn’t been the best. The lighting sucks and it isn’t as comfortable peripherally speaking as my designed office for me. Recently I’ve anticipated adding more network stuff (NAS, VOIP device, etc.). The wireless only solution wasn’t going to cut it for me.
As such I never expected to be down there, I never wired for anything beyond the one port for the wireless access point. I had a cabling guy stop by last night to talk with me about my options. I didn’t like the 15-20 drywall hole option too much and said I’d think about it. I remembered seeing something about ethernet over power lines. I did some research and found the HomePlug Alliance which provided some good general information for me. Enough to convince me that it wasn’t something I should just disregard as an option. Today I went to Fry’s Electronics to peruse my options. There were many. From manufacturers I didn’t know to those that you recognize: Netgear, D-Link, Linksys, etc. I didn’t really seek out any advice in the beginning on what would be best, so I fell into the marketing scheme – bigger numbers is better right? So I bypassed the 14MBPS, skipped over the 85MBPS, and opted for the 200MPBS (I couldn’t find any higher). I purchased the Netgear Powerline HD Network Kit. It was on sale as well which made it more attractive (picked it up for $110). I was skeptical but figured I had nothing to lose. $110 or hundreds more in cabling and drywall repair jobs. The kit comes with two adapters. Plug one into an outlet, connect it to your router and plug the other where you need ethernet connectivity. I did just that.
I’m happy to report I don’t notice anything different…which is to be expected. It literally did “just work” for me. I went to no configuration screens, installed no software, etc. One blue light lit up on one box…a few seconds later the other blue light on the other box was blinking indicating they’ve found each other. Happy times. My speedtest.net rating showed the same speeds I expected to get and I don’t experience any noticeable lag between requests or anything. I haven’t noticed anything in my home network going awry at all either. My XBOX just died, but I think that is more of a coincidence than a side effect. If it turns out it isn’t I’ll report back.
Anyhow, a cheap alternative to wiring. Sure if you want fiber or gigabit connections, this isn’t going to work. But for the average joe, the older home, etc. – so far it is turning out to be a simple alternative that works. Simple to set up too which always is a plus.