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Requirement:
Reliable, fast access to internet in my new study at the back of the house. Permanently for my PC (fixed on desk); available when wanted for work laptop, phones, tablets, visitors' devices. Taking the printer wireless again to be able to move it further away from the PC would be a bonus.

Reason for considering Powerline. Virgin SuperHub provides good 2G and 5G wireless service at the front of the house, but at the back of the house both are flaky: not wonderful even at best, and very unreliable. Continuous freezing and dropping out, unable to view videos, unable to scan, unable to connect work laptop, etc.

So I would need 2 plug units, one of them wired to the Virgin SuperHub in its current location (where it is wired to Virgin's fibre optic cable).

Options for the other end:

(1) Wire to my PC - best for the PC, little or no use for anything else, and I don't want to be swopping cables around. (One connection and cable seems to be a basic function for most models; additional connections available at extra cost are not really wanted.)

(2) Wireless hot spot - less good for the PC, better for everything else. Can be combined with (1) at extra cost.

(3) The other thing is a pass through socket allowing other things to share the house plug socket with the powerline adaptor. This is essential for (1) as I only have two house sockets supporting my desk. For (2) it's nice to have but not actually required, since there are several sockets doing nothing on other walls of the room.

New or second hand? New options range £30 or so for (1) only to £120 for all three. Seems like the kind of thing that would be fine second hand.

Choices, choices...

This one looks like a good bet.

TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit
PC Advisor Reviewed on: 13 December 14
RRP: £89.99 inc. VAT
Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit is a nicely priced, and speedy set of fully featured Powerline adapters. We like the number of Ethernet ports, integrated power socket and Wi-Fi hotspot. Our only word of warning is that these aren’t best designed for houses with low to the floor power sockets [ours are 18" off the floor] because of the placement of the second adapter’s Ethernet ports. Otherwise it’s a good choice.

Off for some internet shopping.

But, a glitch?
"Note: Powerline adapters should be deployed on the same circuit..."
Now as I understand my house wiring, I have separate ground and first floor circuits, on separate fuses, though both running through the same fuse box and the same master switch. Does this mean I have to think about the wifi hotspot option (2) but with the adaptor plugged in on a downstairs power point? In which case I don't have a cable option for the PC at all. Off for yet more research.

NB Other options rejected:
- New PC and/or network card that can see 5G network. My phone, which can see the 5G network elsewhere, can't always see it while at my desk so it's a non-starter.
- Running wires from the SuperHub. They would have to run 60 feet or so across hallway and up stairs.
- Move my study back to the front of the house for access to the reliable wireless network. Not an option at this stage.
- Change internet supplier. The Virgin contract was the best local solution for the full suite of considerations - this was a risk - and we signed up last month for 12 months.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
ffutures
1st May, 2015 13:58 (UTC)
Some people have found that networking over the mains causes interference on hifi etc., but I'd be surprised if it was a common problem.

If there isn't a transformer between the two sockets you're probably OK on the single circuit thing, but since they're presumably on different breakers - I'm guessing you mean breakers rather than fuses) it's worth checking.
coth
1st May, 2015 14:08 (UTC)
Sorry Marcus, I don't understand that second para - can you reword please.

Yes, breakers not fuses.
ffutures
1st May, 2015 14:43 (UTC)
It's unlikely to be a problem for a house, it's more of an industrial / office building thing. Power comes into big buildings at high voltages, they then have transformers to reduce the voltage to the usual 230-240v, one per floor or area of the building. You'd be fine if both ends of the network were on the low voltage side of the same transformer, but probably couldn't get a connection if they connected to different transformers.

You might remember that New Hall had some problems with power supplies in one of the bigger rooms, where you had to be careful that e.g. all of the components of a sound system plugged in to the same set of sockets. That's more or less what was happening there, though for slightly different reasons.
coth
1st May, 2015 14:52 (UTC)
Ah, okay, thanks. No I don't think that is a problem.

Thank you.

There is a cheaper TP-Link set (about £20 less) that only has passthrough on one device - looking at that at the moment. It's not quite clear which of the two has the passthrough though.
rockycoloradan
1st May, 2015 15:29 (UTC)
We added an intermediate repeater to get wireless to the back of the house. Such as - TP-LINK TL-WR710N 150Mbps Wireless N Mini Pocket Router - and there are a number of other vendors that provide the same service. The nice thing about the TP Link is that it has couple of hardwire ethernet ports - if you need to hook up to a wired only device.
coth
1st May, 2015 15:52 (UTC)
I already have a Netgear N900 repeater in a USB port on the PC. It helps improve the quality of the signal when there is a signal, but is no help with the signal fluctuating. I'm quite a long way down this path. :-(
miramon
1st May, 2015 16:00 (UTC)
I have a set of Netgear 500s with two spares, if you want to borrow them you can test to see whether or not you get a decent signal. I could bring them along on Thursday, if you let me know.

My experience is that I got a reasonably good signal on just the upstairs circuit, but when I tried going from the downstairs to the upstairs (e.g. through the fusebox) the signal was a lot worse. In the last few weeks, the signal on the upstairs circuit has got worse and i think this is because I've attached something (don't know what) that is causing interference on the line.

My solution in the end was to get a home networking company (Mr Cable) to run a length of Cat6 ethernet cable from the downstairs hub to my study upstairs. This cost me £102 including VAT and meant I went from getting 0.6Mb on my connection to about 36Mb.It took a couple of hours and I wish I'd done it ages ago.
coth
1st May, 2015 16:11 (UTC)
I can't really work consistently with this intermittent internet. I'm passing a Maplin tomorrow, and they say I can take it back if it doesn't work. So I'm going to try and see. If it doesn't work from hub to study it might work from hub to kitchen.

Thanks for the offer of next Thursday though. If it wasn't convenient to do otherwise I would definitely have taken you up on it.
lsanderson
1st May, 2015 17:03 (UTC)
Faster iz gud
They go on sale here from time to time as starter kits, which generally gets you two.You can put them on an extension; they don't have to be plugged into the wall. A powerline kit to a wireless hub with a few ports seems as if it would be perfection.
desperance
1st May, 2015 22:18 (UTC)
Just to say I've been using a TrendNet Powerline 303 for almost three years ago (the modem & router are connected to Karen's Mac at one end of the house; my Linux box at the other end doesn't have a wifi card, and we had insuperable problems with workarounds, so went for the indirectly-wired option. Besides which, it's such a charming solution...). At her end it's plugged into a three-way adapter, at my end it's plugged into a five-way extension cord; so long as there isn't a surge protector between the device and the wall, there's no problem with multiple outlets all around.

For me it's been almost trouble free - and I only say "almost" because a couple of times this last week, it's taken a little while to get connected after boot-up. That aside, it's been like magic. No set-up at all; I just plugged it in and booted up and there it was. Lovety-love.
major_clanger
31st May, 2015 17:48 (UTC)
Belated thanks for discussing this - we've been having problems since we moved to our new house, in that once we'd got the slow broadband sorted out it became apparent that the wifi really wasn't coping very well even getting up to the next floor. We've just put in an AV500 kit and S has noticed a dramatic improvement in her network access, which is now far less flakey than it was over wifi.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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