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Powerline adapters make use of the electrical wiring found within your home to supply an ethernet connection, but are they powerful enough to provide power over ethernet as well?
The majority of powerline adapters themselves are not capable of providing power over ethernet, but there are some that can. Most of the time, a PoE injector will need to be used alongside a powerline adapter to provide PoE to devices such as a wireless access point or an IP camera.
Although some powerline adapters can supply PoE and others can be used alongside PoE injectors, do they work well, or are there any better solutions out there that you might want to consider?
Can Powerline Adapters Be Used With PoE Devices?
Powerline adapters can be used as a way of delivering power over ethernet to a device, it’s just that the vast majority of them won’t be able to deliver the power directly themselves.
If using a regular powerline adapter, a PoE injector would need to be used as well.
So how would this look?
The powerline adapter would need to be plugged into an available mains outlet and then have one end of an ethernet cable connected to it.
The other end of the ethernet cable would then need to be connected to the injector, which will also require power itself.
This part is key as you’ll need to find somewhere where there are two available mains outlets relatively close to each other; both the powerline adapter and the PoE injector will need to be plugged into the mains electricity supply to function.
Finally, take a second ethernet cable and plug one end into the other available port on the PoE injector, and then connect the other end to the PoE device.
One thing to bear in mind with using powerline adapters is that you need at least two of them for a powerline network to work.
One of the adapters will be placed close to your injector, whereas the other will need to be next to your router or network switch if you are using one.
This is where the powerline network actually receives an ethernet connection; it doesn’t just use the electrical wiring within the walls to magically produce one.
All of this can be hard to picture, so here is a diagram showing how this setup would look if you were to be using a powerline adapter that isn’t capable of providing PoE itself.
This is how it would look if your powerline adapter can supply PoE.
Do Any Powerline Adapters Provide PoE?
The vast majority of powerline adapters themselves are not capable of providing power over ethernet; they will need to be used alongside a PoE injector.
If you have an area of your home where you currently don’t have a network connection, these powerline adapters can be an easy way of extending it.
Not everyone wants the hassle of having to run an ethernet cable throughout the home in order to extend the network, so a powerline adapter can essentially replace this.
Just don’t expect the same kind of performance that you get from using a straight ethernet cable.
Do Powerline Adapters Work Well With PoE?
Using powerline adapters generally can be a bit hit or miss; some people have great success using them whereas others find they don’t work terribly well.
Using powerline adapters as part of a PoE setup isn’t the best solution out there, but it can work.
One thing that plays in their favor is that your average PoE device, like an IP camera, doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth.
A typical IP camera will draw between 4.5 and 9 watts of power.
Most powerline adapters meet the 802.af specification which can provide up to 15.4 watts, so they are more than capable in that regard.
Before rushing out and purchasing a powerline adapter and PoE injector, or even one of the few adapters that can provide PoE themselves, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Firstly, powerline adapters really only work at their best when the electrical wiring found throughout your home is of good quality.
Any issues within the circuit, no matter how small or noticeable they may be in day to day life, can have a big impact on how well the powerline network will perform.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way of being able to tell if your electrical wiring is good enough for powerline adapters to work well.
You could call in an electrician and ask them to check it over for you, or just give the powerline adapters a shot anyway.
Something else to keep in mind is how many electrical outlets you currently have available, and whether they are positioned where you actually need them.
One of the downsides to using a powerline adapter with a PoE injector is that two mains outlets will be needed; one for the adapter and one for the injector.
If you were to run an ethernet cable from your router or switch to the PoE injector, a powerline adapter wouldn’t be needed, meaning only the one outlet will be needed for the injector.
Unless you have a longer ethernet cable, the two outlets will need to be positioned close to each other also so the cable can reach both the adapter and the injector.
Powerline adapters can work with PoE to a certain degree. If this setup is the only option available to you, I would stick to using PoE devices that don’t have huge power requirements or use a lot of bandwidth, like the IP cameras I mentioned earlier.
What Are the Alternatives?
In my opinion, powerline adapters can be useful to get yourself out of a pinch or if you are not too worried about getting the best performance possible, but there are better solutions out there.
The first involves forgetting about the powerline adapters completely whilst still using a PoE injector.
This is actually the setup I am using in my own home network.
I only have the one PoE device which is my wireless access point: a UniFi AC Lite.
I did consider investing in a PoE switch, but couldn’t really justify it when I only had the one device that would make use of it.
To save myself a fair chunk of cash, I instead opted for a Ubiquiti PoE injector.
Even though the access point was being placed on the ceiling a fair distance away from my other networking gear, I had plenty of ethernet cable available that could be run up the wall and along through the loft.
I have the router, switch and PoE injector placed next to each other.
One ethernet cable goes from my router to my switch, another goes from my switch to the injector, and then the final cable goes from the injector, up the wall and through the loft, finally connecting to the wireless access point to provide it with both the power and network connection it needs.
This setup has worked fantastic for me and I haven’t experienced any issues whatsoever.
If I were to have more than one PoE device, like an additional access point or several IP cameras, I would strongly consider investing in a PoE switch.
Remember that the PoE injectors do need to be plugged into a mains outlet, so availability could be an issue when you need to find one for each of your PoE devices.
A PoE switch would replace the need for all of the injectors as the ports on the switch themselves provide the power that is needed.
Only the one power outlet would be needed for the switch itself, too.
If you have more than one PoE device, a PoE switch is definitely the way to go.
If you only have a few PoE devices, the UniFi 8 Port PoE Switch is a great option, but if you are planning on having more, you may want to consider bumping up the number of ports and opting for the UniFi 24 Port PoE Switch.
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