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back to article Devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless Plus: Triple-tech connectivity for the home

I currently use a cheap - 10 quid from eBay - Cisco four-port 10/100Mbps switch to feed the various devices in my living room that require a wired Ethernet connection to the network. The switch connects to the router, which happens to be one floor up and at the other end of my flat, by way of a 500Mbps powerline link. I’ve not …

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Anonymous Coward

100Mbps < 500Mbps

500Mbps powerline link... but then trying to squeeze that through 10/100 ethernet ports? What on earth is the point of that? Would it have killed them to have spend the extra few cents on a proper gigabit chipset?

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Re: 100Mbps < 500Mbps

Comparing raw bitrates of fundamentally different protocols can be near meaningless.

Ethernet supports full duplex operations so you will potentially be able to get nearer 200Mbps for a given link, it's also running on much better quality wiring so probably has significantly lower error correction and tollerances compared to Homeplug. Some protocols (like wireless) alternate between the hub and device communicating so you can only get at most half the data transfer in a particular direction, there's also differences in quite periods in protocols after a given device has transmitted.

That said it seems stupid not to have a gigabit chip - at the very least the ethernet connected devices would get a benefit when talking to each other. I've also never worked out why more powerline plugs don't have multiple ethernet ports - once you have one I can't believe adding a couple more adds much to the cost of production.

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Re: 100Mbps < 500Mbps

I suspect, like me, all of his AV kit plugged in to it only have 100Mbps network ports so a gigbit switch would be wasted.

TV, Sky box, DVD player in my lounge don't have gigabit network ports.

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Re: 100Mbps < 500Mbps

There are a variety of bits of powerline kit coming out now that do have gigabit ports. I'd be interested to know the potential throughput of these because I like powerline kit.

It seems more reliable for streaming and faster for file transfer compared to any wireless setup I've encountered, and it's useful for linking network segments in various parts of the house together.

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I don't think you'll ever get more than 100Mbps out of a 500Mbps powerline adapter. Best I get in our house is 34Mbps-45Mbps, depending on what other white goods are running.

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WTF?

On which note, what is the need for a modern-looking round-pin socket? Is this for a legacy lamp, or some sort of clean supply?

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Boffin

"On which note, what is the need for a modern-looking round-pin socket? Is this for a legacy lamp, or some sort of clean supply?"

From the looks of it, the socket part is replaceable to cater for US and EU pin sockets (you can see it with no socket in place on the screenshots of the software)

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Installed some 200 Mbps adaptors last week and the utility was reporting 140Mbps.

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Some UK houses have them to feed a standard lamp from the main room light switch, or as a dedicated supply for an electric heater on night tariff, or even as a supply for a clock.

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Re: RE: the utility was reporting

Don't try speedtest.net - it won't tell you much about the speed of your internal network unless your Internet connection is not the bottle neck.

iPerf (or the friendlier JPerf) between a couple of supported devices will show what EoP will support. My experience has been that the utilities are reasonably accurate.

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Mushroom

"Installed some 200 Mbps adaptors last week and the utility was reporting 140Mbps."

Ask reality what it reports as real throughput, and you will get a much lower number....

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Go

I don't think you'll ever get more than 100Mbps out of a 500Mbps powerline adapter.

And you would be wrong, as I manage a very solid 140Mbps actual throughput - tested with iperf, tcp throughput - between two Solwise 500-AV Piggies (pass-thru) with Gigabit PHY. Adapter-to-adapter rates are 270Mbps (Tx) and 286Mbps (Rx).

As to why some 500-AV units come with 10/100Mbit ports, it's because there are basically two chipsets that dominate 500-AV - the original AR7400 which supports Gigabit PHY, and the newer (and cheaper) AR7420 which supports only 10/100. This Devolo review unit is obviously based on the AR7420 chipset.

So if you want the best Homeplug performance, make sure you buy units based on the AR7400 chipset. The price difference is usually only a few pounds, but you could be lopping 40%-50% off your potential network TCP throughput and creating a network bottleneck by selecting the cheaper chipset.

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Annoying

This is what really bugs me with many of these devices, and many of the Edimax access points. Pormise 802.11n etc and then saddle it with 10/100 port. So you'll never ever get better throughput than 100. Such a waste.

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Re: Annoying

You need to sacrifice so many goats to get 100mbit throughput out of 802.11n that a gigabit port is largely useless for that purpose.

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I've resorted to these before

In a steel-framed house that's partially wired with Cat5e, these became a godsend for getting Wifi into the adjoining granny-flat. Speed between the adapters was about 155Mb/sec, which was fine for XBox / Sky streaming, and it got around the nasty steel frame.

The only downside was the RCD between the main house and the granny-flat, so I had to use the Wifi to get past that.

In a nutshell, this is a great little box for extending a wireless network properly. Not like these wireless repeaters that just relay whatever noise they can detect. It geniunely sprouts a new instance of your wireless network in a separate location. RFI from powerline ethernet is a concern, but not with that particular house.

£100 well spent.

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I've got a similar Zyxel PLA4231 adaptor (only 2 ethernet ports, no 5Ghz support, no power passthrough - but half the price). Works OK but gets a bit warn. Suffers from the same design flaw as this though - why put the ethernet ports at the top? If the design was flipped through 180 degrees it would be less top-heavy and the wires wouldn't be sprouting out all over the place.

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Zyxel PLA4225

4 port switch + homeplug AV 500, no WiFi hotspot but only £50. No power pass through though.

I have one of these up in the office and two older Devolo AV 200 homeplug units, one in the hallway by the router and one in the lounge by the TV.

The Zyxel works fine with these two Devolo units (even though they only support the older standard). Also the ethernet ports are on the bottom (though they are close together, so you have to pull the boot back if you're using a booted cable).

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Childcatcher

Re: Zyxel PLA4225

Oh and the PLA4225 has gigabit ethernet ports...

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@Malcolm 1

Many mains sockets in UK residences are just a few inches above floor level, and the bottom of the powerline devices tends to be even lower. Trying to plug ethernet cables into sockets pointed to that floor can be a serious PITA - and may be entirely fruitless, or necessitate unplugging the unit entirely (thereby temporarily disconnecting anything else).

Ideally, all these devices would come in top/bottom socket variants so that buyers could select whichever they preferred, but as that's a serious pipedream, at least the availability of some models that are top-socketed gives us choice.

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Re: Zyxel PLA4225

What I'd really like is an ADSL/Wireless-n/Powerline router. Clear out ALL the boxes and powerbricks in one fell swoop. Sadly, i can't find one anywhere.

Any ideas?

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Re: @Malcolm 1

"Ideally, all these devices would come in top/bottom socket variants..."

Or, as seen in some power strips these days, a rotating plug/socket (could keep the socket at the front on the same section as the plug at the back and only have 2/3 wires from it internally)

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5 minutes with a screwdriver...

...and your sockets can be inverted....

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@dogged Re: Zyxel PLA4225

There used to be such things (back in the days of 85Mbps HomePlug)

http://www.solwise.co.uk/adsl-sar605eh.htm

Zyxel had P660HWP and Siemens also had one for about 150 quid or so (SpeedStream 2524 or something like that).

For some reason there doesn't appear to have been any combined devices with the later HomePlug specifications. Perhaps the faster PLC interferes too much in the close proximity and manufacturers don't want to bear the cost of extra shielding. Still surprising none are on offer even if at higher price.

Guess the only way at the moment is to find one at clearance or second hand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 5 minutes with a screwdriver...

Gosh! You're not really suggesting that someone do that themselves without having some clipboard carrying jobsworth from the council inspect their work afterwards, are you?

I think I'll go AC on this, as I also DIY electrics.......and all the other things that the stateist nazis say I shouldn't.

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Facepalm

Re: 5 minutes with a screwdriver...

Or just use a short extension lead...

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Re: 5 minutes with a screwdriver...@ phuzz

Powerline devices often warn that they won't work with extensions.

My own experience with crappo devices supplied by BT (didn't work at all even in the same room) and Netgear (didn't work in most of the flat) is that you should only buy these devices if the retailer agrees to a full refund if your home's wiring turns out to be unsuitable.

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Re: 5 minutes with a screwdriver...

"I think I'll go AC on this, as I also DIY electrics.......and all the other things that the stateist nazis say I shouldn't."

You might want to check your council's building control website for an update then. The rules changed in April and a lot of what you weren't previously supposed to DIY without nanny's supervision is now OK again. Unless you're installing stuff near a bath, shower, swimming pool, etc. you're probably not breaking the rules any more.

Of course, relaxing the rules hasn't seen nearly as much publicity as when they were introduced in 2005. That's mainly because the electricians bodies aren't nearly so keen on things going back the way they were. I wonder why?

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Thumb Up

Re: 5 minutes with a screwdriver...

The simplest ideas are the best ones! what a great suggestion.

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Many power adapters I have (e.g. phone chargers) appear to be "upside down" in the UK, especially if the square-pin assembly (for the mains) is obviously interchangeable for other national standard pin assemblies.

It could be that elsewhere in the world your adapters are the "right way up", but for some reason dear old Blighty's standards mean they're incongruous over here.

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Most of their kit does have the ethernet ports at the bottom, this one seems to be the exception.

A client had a couple of Devolos and seemed they to work, I gave them a try and have not regretted it so far. They're not cheap, but they do what they're supposed to and the software works the way it should which makes a pleasant change.

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I have been using powerline ethernet for the last 5 years or so now, mainly Devolo devices.

I mainly use these for things that do better with a wired connection, such as the PS3, 360 and my desktop etc. After using these, I would strongly recommend them over wireless. I recently picked up six TP Link devices running at the poweline ethernet equivalent of 500mbps from PC World and was very pleased to see they work perfectly with my Devolo devices.

I know a lot of people complain that these interfere with the electrics in the house, all I have to say on this is that if your electrics are in good shape, i.e. not 50 years old, then you are going to be OK. Even in a block of flats, they work (and, in lightening storms as I found out last night).

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Anonymous Coward

Are you mixing and matching between manufacturers? Didn't think you could do that.

On thing putting me off buying a powerline adaptor is extending the network. If I have several units of one make and can no longer find that manufacturer (or they no longer make that unit) and I want to add another link (eg hook the shed up for a bit of alone time) I'd be annoyed that I'd have to replace all the existing adaptors to be able to increase from 3 to 4 points.

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Are you mixing and matching between manufacturers? Didn't think you could do that

You can. That's the point of a standard!

As I mentioned above, I mix Devolo 200 AV units with a Zyxel 500 AV unit with no problem.

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DDWRT?

I used DDWRT installed on an elderly and otherwise unused Buffalo router to create a repeater bridge. It sits behind the TV, extends the range of the wireless network and provides ports for the TV, PVR etc. So far at least, it's been set and forget.

There's a large range of supported routers and if you don't have one in the spares box second hand routers are cheap.

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Re: DDWRT?

Which is great if you can span the wireless that far. But Powerline kit is largely for places where that's impractical.

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DDWRT!

I second that. DDWRT is a godsend for cobbling together infrastructure.

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RFI

One thing I didn't see mentioned was the level of RFI this thing produces to annoy the local radio hams and anyone else that has equipment sensitive to radio noise.

Yes, these things may be a godsend where you can't put in ethernet cables but they are a blot on the radio landscape.

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Trollface

Re: RFI

I assumed it wasn't mentioned as this may take the fun away for angry ham users who trawl the Internet looking to tack this on as a comment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RFI

The RFI issue is a significant one, as it is currently only affecting a small group of people it doesn't get the attention it deserves. The but is when these homeplug things get faster and start offering 1Gbps speeds you will have interference to FM radio and the emergency services which is likely to impact a much larger group of people.

I completely uinderstand the ease of use that the devices offer but the short signtedness of the regulators will come back and bite all of us when something we really care about is interfered with.

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A shiny new sixpence

to the clever lad or lass that can tell me whether this bad boy will interoperate with existing Simpler Networks powerline kit (HomePlug standard) that BT used to sell.

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Just keep your boxes/order online etc

I know I have a fairly old home - but these particular devices just don't work well enough in my house.

Unless they are in the same room that lovely little house LED remains an orangey red.

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Re: Just keep your boxes/order online etc

Solwise has some kit that can transmit over Live/Protective earth as well as usual Live/Neutral which may or may not help in your case.

http://www.solwise.co.uk/net-powerline-pl-500av-smt-twin.html

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Solwise other than happy customer of their old 85Mbps adapters that are still going strong bridging 2 network segments.

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Re: Just keep your boxes/order online etc

Funny you say that. I have some bottom of the range 85 mps homeplugs that outperform the kit featured in this article.

Thanks for the tip ... but the only real solution (and the one I should have gone for in the first place) is cabling.

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Anonymous Coward

Devolo 500 AV Triple

I've got the Devolo dlan 500 AV Triple+ coupled with a Devolo dlan 500 AVplus. the Triple+ has three gigibit ports (facing downwards). the AVplus has one gigbit port facing downwards.

As I write the AVplus is reporting 178Mbps whilst the AVTriple+ is reporting 103Mbps - just power cycled the AVplus and the 'cockpit' is now showing 173Mbps whilst the AVTriple+ is now up to 198Mbps.

These units will do until I can figure out how to run cat5e behind plasterboard without damaging the plasterboard or the cable.....

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It would be interesting to hear from those who live close to this person, to hear their reports of the interference radiated by these devices.

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Anonymous Coward

I have a similar pair running in my house, and the radio HAM down the road doesn't seem to fussed.

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An article in The Oldie recommended it, and an (old) person of my acquaintance bought one for use in his "man shed" in the garden, where (he said) "my Mac won't connect, my pc will". I was asked to rescue him 'cos he was lost!! Pity he didn't have access to your excellent review, he might have realised a) he didn't need all its functionality b) Devolo's documentation is pathetic and c) he could have bought a cheaper and easier piece of Devolo kit.

Slight problem of more money than sense (PC & Mac) and who the hell writes the reviews in The Oldie and assumes tec knowledge.

B

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Had powerline for ages but

As soon as I moved to fibre, it totall screwed the white BT fibre modem to the point I was getting <10% or max sync speeds.

Tried different brands too as I had both Delovo and D-Link.

It was only laziness that'd stopped me running an ethernet cable for some years anyway so not too difficult to do but I wouldn't mind knowing if anyone else has seen similar issues or if I just happened to get a dodgy modem?

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