I’ve had Netcomm’s NP285 Ethernet over Power (EoP) units running my home network for two years now and can say that they are very reliable but a bit slow. There arn’t that many reviews of them, so I thought I would write an overview for anyone considering using Ethernet over Power.
Setup is a breeze (no joke) it is just like you are plugging into a hub or switch, other than your normal IP settings they just work (if only more products were like this). Obviously as they are networking equipment they will work fine with Apples, PC’s, IP Phones or any Ethernet device. They actual units are a little bulky however can just fit next to a standard power plug and while they work best plugged directly into your power socket, mine did seem to function using a power board.
As I said, they work really well. There is a small fluctuation in the speed when something with a big draw turns on or off (heater, dryer, microwave etc). I did have one unit fail (of my 6), however it was under warranty and NetComm replaced it (had to pay to ship it to them, but that was all).
Obviously the marketed speed is the theoretical maximum. In reality on the same circuit the utility reports about 50-70Mbps and on different circuits it reports about 15-30Mbps depending on how good your buildings wiring is.
In my testing the actual sustained speed between two units side by side is about 3MB/s. Which is more akin to about a 24Mbps connection (the utility reported 85Mbps). The advantage of the units is definitely that the connection is reliable and won’t drop out every so often like wireless does, rather than its speed.
If you look at the picture below you will see the monitoring utility where I have one unit on the same circuit and two on different circuits.
Yes they are expensive, but if you compare their cost to having a professional put cat5 wiring into your home/work they are much cheaper. If you are running the numbers, don’t forget that with the EoP units you don’t need a switch or extra patch leads (units are supplied with patch cords).
My advice for anyone buying EoP units would be to get the newer NP201AV ‘200Mpbs’ units as the connection is much more likely to be like a traditional ‘100Mpbs’ connection (although I haven’t actually tried the new units).
- NetComm Website
- CNet Review
- Whirlpool Forum Thread
- A Windows Vista compatible version of the monitoring utility is available from Solwise’s website.