Computers & Electronics

How to improve powerline speeds?

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 24, 2011
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How to improve powerline speeds?

We are on Rogers Gigabit internet (500mb in actuality for now) and we have the Gigabit router bridged to an Asus ac68u (do we have to enable anything in Asus router settings?).

I bought the TP-LINK TL-PA8010P Kit AV1200 Gigabit powerline adapters and I am only getting 50-70 mbps upstairs.

I've read that the wiring in the house can have a great impact and as well as noise from other equipment. So short of hiring an electrician to check out the wiring/circuit/etc, what would you guys suggest?

Thank you.
21 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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East Gwillimbury
RiftOfChaos wrote: 40+ years old
The house was built in the 60s - 70s

If you haven't upgraded the wiring, I'm surprised you're getting 70 Mbps

High currents will stress metal over time and weaken it. The wiring in your house is probably the original cable installed by the builder. I doubt it is even copper
[OP]
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Aug 24, 2011
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Toronto and London
Alright I'll look into that.

Also I'm running cat 5e, do I need to upgrade it to cat 6a?
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May 15, 2009
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RiftOfChaos wrote: Alright I'll look into that.

Also I'm running cat 5e, do I need to upgrade it to cat 6a?
If you're only getting 50-70mbps over powerline, upgrading the cable wont make a difference as thats not the issue.
Sr. Member
Nov 18, 2008
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Toronto
we have the tplink gigabit powerline in my mom's 4 year old house, from basement to the second floor, we're getting 75Mbps max! nothing you can really do. We also have another one in my mother in law's house, i've done some test, sometimes in the same room we're getting like 30Mbps. I would hire someone and drop a few CAT5E/6 cables, that's what I have in my house right now, I'm getting max speed 850-900Mbps through CAT5E connected from second floor to the rogers modem/router in the basement.
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Mar 20, 2009
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Forget that nonsense about the old wiring being worn out. Age can make a difference, but it's because of poor contacts at old junctions, nothing to do with the conductors themselves.

There are several factors you can look into:

1. Most houses are on 2-phase electrical service so they can power 230v appliances. In the standard wiring configuration half the sockets in the house are on one phase, half on the other phase, and they are often split between phases in the same room. The sockets on different phases are not directly connected to each other through your house wiring. You will only get weak EM coupling at the breaker panel, resulting in very poor signal strength for powerline ethernet. The standard solution is to experiment with moving one adapter and then the other to different sockets around the room while monitoring the connection speed. When you hit two on the same phase, the speed will jump to double or triple the value when they are on different phases.

2. Some devices and appliances plugged into your home wiring sap the signal strength of poweline ethernet frequencies, particularly those with protection circuits, neon power indicators, filtered power supplies etc. that tend to short out high frequencies. Having them plugged into the same socket as the powerline ethernet adapter is a signal killer. Plugged into the same powerbar is just as bad. Plugged into a nearby socket on the same circuit is almost as bad. Experiment with unplugging any suspect devices or appliances, or with moving them or the adapters to different sockets as far apart as possible.

3. Physical distance through the household wiring counts, since the signal strength drops with distance. Probably not much you can do about this unless there are variations in electrical cable length because of some odd wiring patterns in your house. Count it under experimenting with different sockets.

4. Number and quality of junction connections between the adapters makes a difference. I've seen powerline throughput drop by 20% just by using an extension cord or double-plug adapter, probably because of poor-quality connections, so first thing to experiment with is getting rid of anything like that if you are using them. There's not much you can do about old internal wiring that hasn't been touched in decades, but if you suspect a particular socket has a poor connection, it might be worth opening it up (after shutting off power), cleaning and tightening the contacts.

The connection speeds that are reported by the powerline ethernet monitor utility are nominal connection speeds. That's fine for comparing connection quality, but that number doesn't reflect actual throughput. Actual data throughput is usually about 1/3 of that value due to high protocol overhead and redundancy to make the connection more robust. But it tends to be fairly stable and free of outside interference at that throughput value, which is the advantage over WiFi.
Sr. Member
Nov 1, 2004
678 posts
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York
Make sure you don't plug it into surge protector bar.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 6, 2005
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JamesA1 wrote: 2. Some devices and appliances plugged into your home wiring sap the signal strength of poweline ethernet frequencies, particularly those with protection circuits, neon power indicators, filtered power supplies etc. that tend to short out high frequencies. Having them plugged into the same socket as the powerline ethernet adapter is a signal killer. Plugged into the same powerbar is just as bad. Plugged into a nearby socket on the same circuit is almost as bad. Experiment with unplugging any suspect devices or appliances, or with moving them or the adapters to different sockets as far apart as possible.
touyakouyo wrote: Make sure you don't plug it into surge protector bar.
Surprisingly sometimes this is the cause, especially surge protectors that filter out the signals. I gave a set to a friend and he complained of low speeds, turns out he plugged it into the power bar. Once we moved it to the main outlet speeds jumped dramatically.

Great overview too JamesA1!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 24, 2011
4933 posts
3313 upvotes
Toronto and London
JamesA1 wrote: Forget that nonsense about the old wiring being worn out. Age can make a difference, but it's because of poor contacts at old junctions, nothing to do with the conductors themselves.

There are several factors you can look into:

1. Most houses are on 2-phase electrical service so they can power 230v appliances. In the standard wiring configuration half the sockets in the house are on one phase, half on the other phase, and they are often split between phases in the same room. The sockets on different phases are not directly connected to each other through your house wiring. You will only get weak EM coupling at the breaker panel, resulting in very poor signal strength for powerline ethernet. The standard solution is to experiment with moving one adapter and then the other to different sockets around the room while monitoring the connection speed. When you hit two on the same phase, the speed will jump to double or triple the value when they are on different phases.

2. Some devices and appliances plugged into your home wiring sap the signal strength of poweline ethernet frequencies, particularly those with protection circuits, neon power indicators, filtered power supplies etc. that tend to short out high frequencies. Having them plugged into the same socket as the powerline ethernet adapter is a signal killer. Plugged into the same powerbar is just as bad. Plugged into a nearby socket on the same circuit is almost as bad. Experiment with unplugging any suspect devices or appliances, or with moving them or the adapters to different sockets as far apart as possible.

3. Physical distance through the household wiring counts, since the signal strength drops with distance. Probably not much you can do about this unless there are variations in electrical cable length because of some odd wiring patterns in your house. Count it under experimenting with different sockets.

4. Number and quality of junction connections between the adapters makes a difference. I've seen powerline throughput drop by 20% just by using an extension cord or double-plug adapter, probably because of poor-quality connections, so first thing to experiment with is getting rid of anything like that if you are using them. There's not much you can do about old internal wiring that hasn't been touched in decades, but if you suspect a particular socket has a poor connection, it might be worth opening it up (after shutting off power), cleaning and tightening the contacts.

The connection speeds that are reported by the powerline ethernet monitor utility are nominal connection speeds. That's fine for comparing connection quality, but that number doesn't reflect actual throughput. Actual data throughput is usually about 1/3 of that value due to high protocol overhead and redundancy to make the connection more robust. But it tends to be fairly stable and free of outside interference at that throughput value, which is the advantage over WiFi.

Thank you for this, much appreciated.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
19443 posts
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Toronto
Just install Ethernet. Once you get it installed, you'll wonder why you didn't do it years ago. Even if you have 50 Mbps now, tomorrow when your daughter turns on her hairdryer, you may have 0 Mbps.

If you can't run it on the inside of the house, you can run it on the outside of the house. You just need to spend a few bucks more to get water resistant and UV resistant cable.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
27311 posts
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RiftOfChaos wrote: what would you guys suggest?
Hire someone to pull Ethernet.
There's no substitute for it.

You have to ask yourself if the speed upgrade is worth it to you.
If so, you have to get Ethernet.
If not, you'll have to live with whatever powerline/wireless decides to give you.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
16599 posts
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RiftOfChaos wrote: I bought the TP-LINK TL-PA8010P Kit AV1200 Gigabit powerline adapters and I am only getting 50-70 mbps upstairs.

I've read that the wiring in the house can have a great impact and as well as noise from other equipment. So short of hiring an electrician to check out the wiring/circuit/etc, what would you guys suggest?
I tested Powerline for jokes - 70mbps is actually pretty good for those units. You maybe lucky and hit 250mbps but that's pretty much the maximum for Powerline.

My house is fully wired as well.
Deal Addict
Nov 21, 2008
1352 posts
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North Vancouver, BC
JamesA1 wrote: There are several factors you can look into:

1. Most houses are on 2-phase electrical service so they can power 230v appliances. In the standard wiring configuration half the sockets in the house are on one phase, half on the other phase, and they are often split between phases in the same room. The sockets on different phases are not directly connected to each other through your house wiring. You will only get weak EM coupling at the breaker panel, resulting in very poor signal strength for powerline ethernet. The standard solution is to experiment with moving one adapter and then the other to different sockets around the room while monitoring the connection speed. When you hit two on the same phase, the speed will jump to double or triple the value when they are on different phases.
It's likely that sockets in the room will be on the same pads.

If you want to connect between two specific points in the house and the power outlets are on different phases, you might be able to move the wiring for one of the points to the other phase. It would be done at the panel.
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Dec 12, 2009
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robertz wrote: It's likely that sockets in the room will be on the same pads.

If you want to connect between two specific points in the house and the power outlets are on different phases, you might be able to move the wiring for one of the points to the other phase. It would be done at the panel.
This is going to extremes. For all the trouble, it would be a lot better to just fish some Ethernet cable.
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Mar 20, 2009
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It's not easy to fish ethernet cable in some houses, particularly between multiple floors of older houses.

In my house generally the plugs on one side of a room are on one phase, and the plugs on the other side on the other phase. But I have changed the phase of one circuit at the breaker panel because I needed to parallel a switched light circuit with a sensor-controlled circuit, so it is possible and not very difficult.
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Nov 21, 2008
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will888 wrote: This is going to extremes. For all the trouble, it would be a lot better to just fish some Ethernet cable.
It took me all of two minutes to do, which is much less extreme that fishing write around the inside of a house.
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Nov 18, 2002
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James nailed it on the head. I'm using the exact same kit on a completely gutted and refurbished house with brand new wiring etc and I'm barely hitting 90mbps between 2 floors. Experiment until you find a pair of sockets that agree.

It's good enough for my needs. For others who want ethernet speeds you'll need ethernet, there's no substitute.

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