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HomePlug in your power sockets

Power Ethernet Socket front view

Posted on 20 Aug 2012 at 09:38

Paul Ockenden reveals what to look for when buying powerline networking equipment.

Power Ethernet piece extracted from the article

If you do want great looks, however, I’ve recently been testing adapters from a company called Power Ethernet (read our review at web ID: 374935), which fits HomePlug networking into the back of a normal double mains socket. This means that you lose one socket, but in return you get four Ethernet ports, which is highly convenient – and, better still, the devices look great. They wouldn’t look out of place in the most stylish apartment or hi-tech office: there’s something almost Apple-esque about the faceplate’s looks.

Installation time

Most competent DIYers should be able to replace an existing two-gang socket with a Power Ethernet faceplate, and indeed the IEE Wiring Regulations do allow for a confident consumer to do this. For a new installation, however, or if you lack the confidence, you’ll need to consult a qualified electrician.

Note that this device needs 35mm clearance behind the faceplate, and although many houses and offices will have sockets installed on suitable boxes (especially older premises), if you’re in a newer building with 28mm boxes behind its sockets, you’ll need to buy a small spacer to distance the faceplate slightly from the wall. You’ll find 10mm two-gang spacers available from many online electrical retailers.

In use, I’ve found Power Ethernet devices to be rock-solid. With other brands of HomePlug device I’ve found myself having to reset them from time to time as they lock up, but I’ve had no such trouble with these devices. Incidentally, if you do need to reset them there’s a simple poke-hole on the front – obviously, it would be a bit inconvenient to have to disconnect the faceplates from the mains.

These are at the upper end of the powerline networking price range, at a little more than £100 each, and remember you’ll need two to set up a new network (although a single faceplate could be added to an existing HomePlug AV network). It isn’t unusual to pay handsomely for stylish kit, though, especially when it’s as well thought out and works as well as this does.