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I wanted to stream Netflix movies to our new flat-panel TV. I thought I had it all figured out until I had a conversation in November 2010 with an experienced tech geek that worked in the Best Buy home theater department that suggested I go with power-line networking rather than Wi-Fi.
I had already purchased the flat-panel TV with all of the needed inputs, and then some, and thought all I needed to do was buy a Blu-Ray (BD) player with built-in Wi-Fi and I would be good to go. Technically, I could have bought the player, hooked it up and been done.
After talking with the home theater tech, that original idea was discarded for one reason:
- The desire for uninterrupted streaming.
Apparently, Wi-Fi streaming could be an issue due to download speed capabilities, security and the distance from router to your TV. I didn’t want any part of that and agreed that a hardwired network is always more dependable (and secure) than Wi-Fi, if given a choice. The Netgear kit that I bought comes with a CD-ROM that includes an encryption utility. That makes double-sure that your powerline network is secure from outside intruders.
Part of the problem was that the computer in our home is nowhere near the living room where the television is located. Our home is over 20 years old so it is not wired to meet today’s home networking demands. I guess I could have fished some Cat-5 Ethernet cable through the walls but with Wi-Fi at my fingertips, I saw an easier solution staring me in the face…until I understood power-line networking.
How Does Power-Line Networking Work?
Home electrical wiring has been used for home automation for a few years now but it wasn’t until April 2010 that the HomePlug Power Alliance forged the IEEE P1901 agreement that paved the way for a simple, yet brilliant, solution for hardwired, comparably priced home networking.
The technology works by utilizing your existing home electrical circuit as a means of transmitting data with the aid of the power-line network adapter. Make certain that the power-line networking device is HomePlug 1.0 Certified before making your purchase. There will be a logo on the box stating that it is certified. Look for it.
Here is the technical explanation of this fantastic technological breakthrough agreement:
Here’s all you need to do to take advantage of Power-line Networking technology:
- Buy a Powerline adapter kit. They start out at around $80 and go up from there.
- Read the instructions that are included with the kit and heed them. The key here is to plug the power-line adapters DIRECTLY into the wall socket. They will not work if you plug them into a surge protector or extension cord.
- Connect your broadband connection to your router (already like that if you have broadband)
- Connect the provided ethernet cable to the router and then into the primary power-line connector. There is a difference between the unit that is plugged into the wall next to your computer and the unit that is plugged into the wall near your media device.
- Plug in the power-line unit into the electrical socket that is nearest your Ethernet-enabled HDTV.
- Plug in the Ethernet cable to the TV and power-line adapter.
- Pay attention to the order in which things are plugged in as it makes a difference between a successful connection and a failed connection.
That’s all there is to it. I avoided distinct directions due to differences in brands, but that is the basic set-up. You may need to set-up some passwords and know what your ISP codes are in order to make the connection.
The power-line adapter kit can also enable the following uses for homeowners:
There will be even more applications of this technology in the near future so pay close attention. It will make the technical side of your life much easier.
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.