What is it?
Power-line communication is a form of networking where existing ac-power cable ran in homes or buildings are used to also send data traffic.
How does it work?
Power-line communication works by sending low frequency signals over the existing ac-power cables. To do this you will need an adaptor (pictured above). Once you have the adaptor plugged in you can plug in an ethernet cable from your internet router or existing network which will provide internet connectivity to wherever you plug in the second adaptor. The plugs must be on the same circuit and must be plugged directly into the wall, not a power strip or extension cord.
Why would you want to use this?
There are a few reasons why you might want to use power-line networking in your home or business.
One major reason is getting more reliable hard-wired internet to hard to reach places. A lot of homes do not have ethernet ran into each room which can lead you to have to use less reliable Wi-Fi throughout the house. With a powerline adaptor, you can get a reliable wired connection everywhere.
Another good reason is if you cannot afford or it is not feasible to run ethernet cable throughout the home/building. For example, say you did not have the money or knowhow to install ethernet jacks throughout your house, for around $100 you could have an ethernet connection almost anywhere! Another example that I ran in to was at an old stone walled church. It was not feasible to drill into the stone walls to run cable and running the cables exposed along the walls/ceiling would ruin the beautiful aesthetics of the old church. Solution? Power-line ethernet!
Why would you not want to use this?
A reason to not use this would surprisingly be cost. Each adaptor is around $50 so with each ethernet connection you add the price keeps going up. If you have the tools and the knowhow, running ethernet cables throughout your building is much more cost effective.
Another reason is performance. While it should be more reliable compared to Wi-Fi for the most part, you would see a huge increase in speed by using a straight ethernet connection rather than the Power-line adaptors. Another issue you might run into is if the there are multiple circuit breakers in your home/building. Sometimes you will not be able to get a connection if the other adaptor is on a different circuit.
Conclusion Power-line ethernet is a great tool to have in the back of your technology bag of tricks. In niche situations, using power-line can be a life saver against slow Wi-Fi internet connections or even get reliable internet to some hard to reach place