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I'm thinking of starting to use powerline networking for my pc, but I heard that if the outlet near my modem and the outlet near my pc are on different breakers, powerline networking won't work. How do I see if powerline networking will work for me? Thanks in advance.

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    Different breakers aren't a problem, different legs of the service entrance are somewhat of a problem. But it can still work even in that case, I get around 20mbit of bandwidth across service legs (versus close to 100mbit to an outlet in the next room on the same breaker), which is good enough for me. And sometimes other devices (electric motors, fluorescent lights, etc) can cause interference even when plugging the devices in on the same circuit. The best way to know if it will work for you is to buy from a store with a good return policy and if it doesn't work, return the units. – Johnny Nov 10 '15 at 17:25
  • I have used them in my house, but quickly replaced them because of the speed. Don't expect anywhere near the advertized speed unless you're just going across a wall on the same breaker. I tried them in another house and couldn't get them to pair at all. I never figured out why, but tried several outlets in the house with no luck. +1 on the good return policy! – JPhi1618 Nov 10 '15 at 18:43
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    Select a vendor that will accept returns without a huge penalty and try - or just buckle down and run network wires, which will work better/faster than the best you can hope for from these things. – Ecnerwal Nov 10 '15 at 18:58
  • I agree with @Ecnerwal on this... To expand a bit on his comment, even where speed is not an issue (short run of relatively noiseless powerline between devices), stability has always been an issue for me. I really wanted to avoid running network cable, and speed was never a high priority for me. So, I tried 3 different powerline devices from 3 different companies and the issue was always the same: stability. That is, all of them would periodically drop connections and require a "reboot." I could have saved a lot of time and frustration by just running network cable to begin with... – bobfandango Nov 12 '15 at 21:37
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It strongly depends on the age of your house, the brand of breakers, whether they are on opposite service legs, and whether they are straight magnetic breakers or AFCI or GFCI breakers, which is often determined by the age of your home and whether the equipment is in a bedroom or kitchen.

In particular some early AFCI breakers would block powerline networking.

My suggestion is to buy it and try it, and to return it or see if you can move a breaker if it doesn't work.

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Best to check with manufacture, but yes your assumption is justified.

PLC technology for the most part is superimposed over just one side of the two poles that supply the panel.

To remedy this, a microfarad capacitor that matches the PLC's frequency can be connected in parallel to each phase, or pole , that supplies the panel. Usually, these are sold as bridges/boosters by the same company that sells the PLC technology. A common booster would plug into a 240 outlet or would be hardwired into the panel by a qualified electrician.

Other PLC technology may integrate RF ( radio frequency ) to compensate for the hurdles that PLC technology runs in to.

There is the try first and return later approach as others have suggested. Many stores don't have a problem with this but if you're like me time is a scarce commodity and would rather not have to deal with returning stuff if possible.

  • If your network only has two ports, and they are on opposite service legs, you may be able to relocate the breakers in your service panel so that the two necessary circuits are on the same service leg, though this can be a scary thing to do for those who haven't seen it done. – gbronner Nov 10 '15 at 17:48

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