Top positive review
278 people found this helpful
on April 28, 2012
My house was prewired with CAT5 throughout however the Ethernet outlet in the office was across the room from the router and I did not want to string wire under the carpet to reach it. I had seen these network power line adapters before but was hesitant to buy them as some customers had expressed difficulties going across circuit breakers and electrical subpanels. I talked to Cisco/Linksys prior to purchase and they told me that they do not guarantee the PLEs across circuit breakers and their success ratio with these units is about 90% overall.
My PLEK400 units arrived a few days ago and they are working very well. The adapters could not be easier to install and in less than 5 minutes I had Ethernet throughout my power lines. These units are basically plug-and-play although I recommend downloading the "PLE400 Utility" from the Cisco site as it installs a PC based User Interface to easily setup additional security, name each adapter, check status, update firmware, etc. One of the two adapters (they are both identical) plugs to an electrical outlet near the router and is connected to the router by the provided Ethernet cable (this becomes the base unit). At this point you have Ethernet throughout your electrical lines. The second adapter plugs to a different electrical outlet providing a network connection to whatever you hook up into that adapter.
In my own application, the office, I plugged the 2 adapters into electrical outlets which are under the same circuit breaker. The second adapter (the downstream unit) is connected to the Ethernet outlet by that wall and connects to my prewired CAT5 system throughout the house. To test this setup, I went to the furthest room from the router, the master bedroom, and I was able to stream Netflix at high quality without difficulty. This is an easy application - one adapter transmits the signal to the other adapter through perhaps 25 feet of power line, all in the same room, and my hardwired CAT5 system takes over from that point forward.
As I mentioned, the setup above places the two PLEs under the same circuit breaker. In order to further test the units, I took one (the downstream adapter) to the master bedroom and plugged it to an electrical outlet there and then to a Sony BD player. I could again stream Netflix without difficulty. In this setup I am under the same electrical panel but on two different circuit breakers (arc fault interrupters, no less, which can be finicky) and Ethernet is traveling through 200-300 feet of power line (from the office to the electrical panel and from the panel to the master bedroom). I then took the adapter to the upstairs media room. The electrical outlets in this room are fed from an electrical subpanel, a panel that cascades downstream form the main one, and to my surprise, the adapters worked there also (same solid Netflix streaming). As far as speeds/throughput I am not able to provide much information other than video streaming at high quality is stable (my ISP bandwidth is 12.5 Mbps). I do not use these units for file transfers so speeds above my ISP bandwidth are not an issue to me. The "PLE Utility" reports high bandwidth rates but I do not necessarily believe this information as real.
In my own application these adapters work very well across different circuit breakers, across subpanels and at long distances from my router and I recommend them as an alternative to hardwired Ethernet (Ethernet over Coax would be another option). The fact that my house has good wiring undoubtedly helps. I suggest trying them to determine if they work in your own installation and if not, returning them.
Update of 1/1/2014
My original review was written in April 2012 and the PLEs worked well until November 2013. In December 2013 the bandwidth through them fell way down to just 3 to 4 Mbps. As I described above I use these units for an A/V network and before December I could obtain my full ISP bandwidth (12.5 Mbps) through them allowing Netflix/Amazon video at high quality. With just 3-4 Mbps the video stream started freezing and reloading repeatedly making them impractical to use. As some of you may be aware Cisco sold the Linksys Division to Belkin earlier this year so I contacted Belkin Support. I provided a detailed written explanation of my problem but regardless their response was a very brief and useless "one liner" that made no technical sense; they simply said to "use Wireless N on my router and let them know what happened". Gee whiz, I was on Wireless N already but this is irrelevant to the PLE units as they are not wireless; they are "wired only" and are connected to the router/gateway by Ethernet. My wireless settings have nothing to do with them.
Since Belkin Support had been of no help, I spent the better part of 2 days testing my system and the problem was exclusively with the PLEs. I then unplugged the PLEs for two hours to allow for a complete reboot, I reset both of them to factory default, and then reinstalled the latest FW (even though they had the latest already). Something in this process worked and at the moment they are performing as before with full ISP bandwidth (Netflix/Amazon video now ok). Was this a FW glitch or is one of the PLEs failing? We will see...
I had originally rated these units 5 Stars but as a result of my recent experience I dropped the rating to 4. These units are still good as long as you don't need support. If you surf through the Amazon reviews you will notice that Belkin tends to comment on nearly all of the negative reviews with what seems to be a very good message - "sorry for your difficulties, email us at BelkinCares and we will help you, etc., etc." but the follow through appears to be minimal. There have been substantial technology improvements in "Ethernet over Power Lines" and at this point I would be inclined to try the TP-LINK TL-PA4010KIT AV500 Nano 500Mbps units which are selling for $39.99 on Amazon as I write this and are highly rated.
BTW, on a separate issue, I also have a PLW400 wireless unit connected to my system as a range extender (i.e., a second wireless access point at the far end of the house away from the main router) and I offer the following tips to avoid conflicts. If you use the "Utility" software that comes with the PLEs while the PLW is plugged in, please be aware that this "Utility" will reset the IP address of the PLW making it difficult to find or access the PLW in your network. If you try to use the "Utility" that comes with the PLW it will be incompatible with the PLEs. The solution I found is as follows. One does not need a "Utility" at all for the PLW - just go to the IP address of the PLW and access all of the settings directly, just like accessing the settings on any router. One does need the "Utility" with the PLEs in order to perform advanced settings with these units (not required but desirable), and to do so without resetting the PLW simply unplug the PLW first, use the PLE Utility, and then plug the PLW back in after you are through. While I am at it, if you use a second wireless access point in your system, be it a PLW400 or another unit, I recommend setting both the main router and the second access point to the same identical settings (SSIDs, Network Keys, Bands, etc.) as this makes transitioning through them rather seamless. I originally tried two different SSIDs so I could see which access point I was connected to, but this created lags and sometimes misconnections when roaming with laptops or iPhones. Hope this helps...