Lies, Damned Lies – and Claims from Powerline Adapter Manufacturers!

Among undoubted charms, one of the few little challenges presented to me by my current home is the fact that I have no easy way to run network cables around. All the walls are brick; the floors are concrete, there’s nowhere to conceal cable runs. As a result, I’ve invested in Powerline adapters, little units that come in pairs and which you can plug in to a couple of mains sockets and which, if you’re lucky, can route Ethernet traffic around your property using the heavy gauge mains cable as a transmission medium.  This kinda works…

Back in 2015 I purchased a pair of adapters with a claimed throughput of 1.2 Gigabits per second. Since they were massively faster than the 500Mb/s units they replaced, I was quite happy with them, although I noted at the time that they didn’t quite deliver as claimed…

This evening I’ve just installed and tested an upgraded pair of adapters, this time boasting a claimed 2000Mb/s [2 Gigabits] of throughput. So fast, in fact, that I should expect them to be at least as fast as a direct network connection, right? Ho, ho, ho…

I ended up running 30 tests across 3 different scenarios:-

1. Direct – Laptop with SSD to Gigabit Switch to QNAP TS670 NAS
2. Legacy via 2 x AV1200s over approx 10m of mains ring
3.  New via 2 x AV2000s over approx 10m of mains ring

For the Powerline Tests I performed power-recycle resets and then conducted 3 full test runs to let the adapters “train” themselves before capturing data. Each test was conducted as pairs: one test was for a large single file [approx 9Gb]; the other was for approx 250 files in a folder structure with the total size approx 9Gb].

For each of the above configurations and the two tests, I ran each test 5 times. I then averaged down the 10 results for each configuration to a single value and report the results as bytes-per-second not bits-per-second…

1. Direct Connection – 153,294,088.732 bytes per second
2. Powerline AV1200s – 16,193,844.940 bytes per second
3. Powerline AV2000s – 27,324,602.086 bytes per second

In other words, despite claiming to be twice as fast as conventional Gigabit Ethernet, the AV2000 units actually only returned – as you can see from the above data – about 17.82% of the performance of a direct connection. From equipment claiming to have twice the performance of a direct connection…

Sum-Up: Powerline Ethernet Manufacturers: full of sh#t!

[ Oh, and in case you’re wondering – the 1200 units were perfectly capable of letting me watch streamed 4K content from YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime, delivered down a BT Infinity 75Mb/s FTTC service – so the 2000s will be more than sufficient]. They’re good, just nowhere near as good as claimed… ]