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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Who needs PE Sockets?

The PE Sockets are suitable for home users and businesses of all sizes and in all sectors.

In the consumer market, with families owning so many Ethernet enabled devices, such as PCs, set-top boxes, game consoles, Blu-ray players and even the latest TVs, the PE Sockets provide a high speed Internet access available throughout the home that connects all these devices in a simple and fast way.

Within the business sector, the PE Socket is ideal for situations where running additional data cabling to connect devices is impossible or impractical but also, by removing the purchase and installation costs of data cabling, offers a cost-effective approach to creating business networks. It can be used to both extend existing Ethernet networks, to accommodate new devices, or as a complete backbone network and can be installed by an electrician without specialist data cabling knowledge.

A number of possible applications for PE Sockets can be found at www.powerethernet.com/applications.html

Will the PE Socket match the finish of other sockets in the house?

The PE Socket design incorporates a choice of fascias available in a range of finishes that will make the product blends into the home.   We are talking to a number of potential partners from socket manufacturers and built-in desk systems about integrating our technology into their products.

Power Ethernet is very aware of the importance of ensuring the plastic quality and consistency of colour.

Is Powerline a supported IEEE standard?

The HomePlug Alliance and the manufactures including Qualcom- Atheros have been working since 2005 on getting Powerline technology approved as an IEEE standard.  The IEEE1901 Standard was ratified in September 2010.  Further information can be found at www.homeplug.org/tech/ieee_1901

What certification is in place to ensure you are able to sell and install in new and existing homes?

In the United Kingdom, the Building Regulations require that domestic electrical installations are designed and installed safely according to BS7671.  These are very similar to the principles defined in the international standard IEC60364 used within the EU.

Within the UK and Europe, we require the CE mark to indicate that the product is compliant with the EU safety legislation.

Across the world there are many standards agencies that work together to have similar coverage for most companies.  From the information we have about these standards bodies, they mostly align with the IECEE (International Electrotechnical Commission Electrical Equipment) in some way for the standards of testing and certification.  More importantly the IECEE can be used to certify not only end product but also manufacturing process to get a good standard in the final product for each country involved.

What is the limit in terms of total number of units and the available bandwidth?

The total number of PE Sockets within a single network is 64 units with the bandwidth divided amongst units (i.e. one collision domain like a hub).

The bandwidth is shared amongst all the units and is currently 200Mbps (gross).

How is the bandwidth used up?

The total gross bandwidth for a HomePlug 200AV compatible chipset is 200Mbps but that actual available bandwidth will be less because of network overhead.  The available bandwidth is shared amongst the Powerline devices.  The transmitted and received data comes out of the bandwidth allocation.

I tried Powerline a long time ago and the network speed was very slow because of the interference generated by household appliances. Why should the Power Ethernet Socket be any better?

The concept of running a network over the mains power cables within the building has been around for over 25 years.  Early versions of the Powerline adapters were limited to a slow network speed and did not handle the electrical interference very well.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance (whose standards we support) has over 70 members with more than 200 different products already received the HomePlug certification.  Alliance members include Cisco, Motorola, Broadcom, D-Link Systems and many others.

In the last 6 years, network speeds have increased dramatically and each successive chip is better at handling any interference on the mains cable.

The Powerline chip used in the Power Ethernet Socket is designed and manufactured by Qualcomm-Atheros (who used to be known as Intellon) and they pride themselves in not only being at the front of the Powerline ratification process (IEEE1901) but are also confident that they will increase the network bandwidth from 200Mbps to 500Mbps and to 1Gbps in late 2012.

The Power Ethernet Socket has an embedded 4 port managed switch which provides Quality of Service and other advanced networking functionality to make the most of the available network bandwidth.

Is Power Ethernet network good solution for business?

Powerline as a standard has been specifically designed for home use (hence the name HomePlug Alliance) but it is an excellent solution for addressing a number of business pains.  It is not going to replace dedicated cabling as the primary network infrastructure within corporates but as it is powerful enough and agile to address the following networking challenges:

  1. The cost and disruption of installing structural cables
  2. The inconvenience and cost of running out of network connection points.
  3. Speed of deployment
  4. Resolving single points of failure
  5. Network flexibility

Within certain sectors, Powerline’s performance is fast enough and fit for purpose to be the primary networking including:

  • Home networking, theatre and automation
  • Small offices including surgeries, schools and smaller hotels
  • Temporary structures like maritime and construction
  • SME, office rental and small business networks

In larger networks, Powerline is a good fit to extend and expand the network.  It is a cost effective way to segment the data networks and use Powerline to deliver connectivity.  Applications include:

  • Digital signage
  • VoIP telephone handsets (providing a giga-Ethernet connection to an IP telephone is expensive)
  • CCTV cameras
  • Smart metering

There are also a number of verticals where installing new structure cable is undesirable and WiFi networking is not fit for purposes, for example:

  • Listed buildings and heritage sites require planning permission to install new cables and the size of the buildings along with the thick walls means that WiFi is not a viable option.  Powerline is the ideal solution for these sorts of sites.

How many PE Sockets do I need to install in order to create a network?

You need at least 2 Power Ethernet Sockets to create a network and there is a limit of a maximum of 64 sockets in a single phase

Who can install the Power Ethernet Socket?

Like any other power outlet, the Power Ethernet Socket needs to be installed by a qualified electrician.  Consumers can replace an existing double socket with a Power Ethernet Socket as long as they are confident that they will comply with the suitable building and electrical regulations.

How much does it cost to install the Power Ethernet Socket?

Research around the UK came up with an average labour cost of between £50 and £100 to replace 4 existing two-gang power sockets with Power Ethernet Power Sockets.  Actual costs depend on where in the United Kingdom.

How deep do the back boxes need to be to install the Power Ethernet Socket?

The Power Ethernet Socket fits a standard UK two-gang 35 mm deep back metal box.

Do I need to take out the fuses for installation?

No, just like installing a normal power socket you do not need to do anything other than turning the power off before installing.  However it is important you follow and understand fully the installation instructions before undertaking any installation.

Do I have to make any changes to my electrical wiring in order to install the PE Sockets?

No, you do not need to make any changes to the electrical wiring.

Does the Power Ethernet Socket work in ring mains and spurs?

The Powerline portion of the product will work on rings and spurs.  Ring circuits are most common in UK electrical wiring whereas European countries tend to use a spur power distribution.

Do I need to measure the quality of the wiring?

In general, the wiring quality is not measured before a Powerline installation.  The most important factor is the amount of electrical noise the building wiring is subject to.  Our tests have shown excellent results in a house with old wiring because it had relatively few electrical devices whereas performance was initially lower in a modern house with numerous dimmers and transformers.  Where ever possible, it helps to plug the noisy devices into the filtered socket on the front of the product to isolate the noise makers from power ring.

Does the quality of the wiring affect all media transmissions equally or are some more tolerant than others?

Not as much as you would expect it to as the power circuit is used as an RF aerial that is pushes data across the circuit.  The Power Ethernet Socket is able to dynamically change its algorithms to get the best performance possible.

Can I run a network across different mains rings?

In the majority of UK homes, the same breaker connects all the rings and the network therefore is able to run across the different mains rings because the signal can run across the busbar.

If the mains rings are isolated, for example, on different electrical phases then the separate Powerline networks can be linked together via a CAT5 cable.

Can I run the network across different circuits/phases?

Depends if the phases are joined at the electrical consumer unit or not.  The Powerline network will run everywhere where there is a connectivity path.  If the circuits are isolated, then the network can be joined together using CAT5 cables.  A phase coupler will also work.

Within commercial buildings, 3 phase power is common.  Power Ethernet has written a whitepaper on the subject of implementing Powerline networking in large installations.

How do I connect the PE Socket network to my existing router or network?

You can connect the Power Ethernet Socket network to your router or your existing network via a CAT5 cable.

Are PE Sockets able to connect to a wireless network?

You can connect the Power Ethernet power network to any other network using a CAT5 cable including connecting an existing WiFi router to the network

Can I install additional PE Sockets to my network if I want more networking later?

Yes, you can install up to 64 PE Sockets per network running in a single phase.  The available bandwidth will be shared amongst them.

I already use Powerline adapters in my network. Can I integrate PE sockets into my existing network?

Yes, Power Ethernet Sockets are HomePlug compatible so it works with any adaptor compatible with HomePlug.  Simply change the network password of your existing adapters to HomePlugAV (using the supplied adapter software) and they will automatically link together.  Alternatively, you can change the network key on all Powerline devices to something more secure via the respective software.

Is the maximum speed related to the 50Hz carrier?

The Central Co-Ordinator (CCO) on the Powerline chip syncs to the AC cycle, which is at 50 Hz (or 60Hz).  This is only used as a timing marker so that all units are synchronised.  The chip will happily sync at 50Hz or 60Hz (it supports 10 above and 10 below) and it can also sync using its own internal clock. The Powerline standard is designed to work across DC and Coax as long as there is a carrier signal but the internal clock can suffer from clock drift which is why running over power is better.  The area known to cause problems is when the carrier drifts (for example 50->52->54->52) in which case the chip will use its internal clock

Will the PE Sockets work on 60Hz carrier (most ships use this)?

Yes, the PE Sockets works perfectly well in the US on 60 Hz.  The timing hertz range does not matter as long as it is a constant.  If it cannot be constant an internal clock on the Powerline chip will be used.

How can I assess the performance of the PE Sockets?

Power Ethernet will supply downloadable Windows based software package that can help the user and installer to assess the performance of each PE socket installed in the same network and change settings like the network password.

What data transfer rates do I need for HDTV (High Definition TV)?

It depends on the HDTV resolutions. The following are the most frequently used resolutions:

APP. Rate (Mbps)

Two-person family

Six-person family with small children

Six-person family with small children and teenagers

Quantity

App Rate (Mbps)

Quantity

App Rate (Mbps)

Quantity

App Rate (Mbps)

HDTV

(22-27.8 Mbps)

1

22-27.8

1

22-27.8

1

22-27.8

SDTV

(3-7 Mbps)

1

3-7

3

9-21

2

6-14

Home Theatre Audio

(5.4 Mbps)

1

5.4

1

5.4

1

5.4

CD Audio

(0.8x2 Mbps)

 

 

 

 

3

4.8

VoIP

(0.064+0.016)x2=0.160Mbps

2

0.16

2

0.16

3

0.24

IP Data

(2Mbps)

2

4

2

4

5

10

Total

7

34.5-44.4

9

40.6-58.4

15

48.4-62.2

How can I ensure that the PE Sockets will have enough bandwidth for HDTV video applications?

The Power Ethernet Sockets are equipped with Quality of Service (QoS) which prioritize large bandwidth applications as HDTV optimising the data flow and ensuring excellent quality

What is the maximum distance between outlets before the data signal degrades?

The actual range depends on the quality and gauge of the wiring.  Atheros, the Powerline chip manufacturer has confirmed that the network works well up to 300 metres on typical mains wiring.  The network could go further but the error ratio starts to get too high for anything more than surfing.  There are a number of tools that we use to analyse the sync and maintain of signal and we will make these tools available to our customers.

What should I expect as the maximum data rate to be with my PE Sockets?

The maximum net data rate is between 70 and 180 Mbps depending on your home wiring and electrical noise in your premises. As UDP has less protocol overhead than TCP, UDP can result in a slightly higher data rate than TCP.  The actual speed will vary depending on the mains cable length, quality and electrical interference on the mains.

How can I optimise/ increase the performance of the PE Sockets?

Electrical interference has the largest effect on the overall available bandwidth which is why the Power Ethernet Socket has a built in filtered socket to minimise the effect of locally generated noise.  Ensuring that any other electrically noisy devices are plugged in at least 1 metre away such as power supply units, mobile charges, halogen lamps and dimmers switches will help.  If in doubt, plug the noisy product into the Power Ethernet Socket directly so it can manage the noise with its built in filter.

What electrical devices generate the most electrical noise?

Lamps with dimmers, scent plugins, night lights, mobile phone chargers, power supply units are example of electrically noisy devices. Although Powerline is designed to optimise the transmission protocols in order to get the maximum network speeds, plugging such devices into the Power Ethernet Socket will help as the filtered socket helps to minimise such electrical noise.

Are they any restrictions on what can be plugged into the PE Socket or near to it from an electrical noise perspective?

No, the socket includes a built-in filtered socket to minimise the effect of locally connected noisy devices.

Electrically noisy devices will impact the available Powerline bandwidth if they are plugged into an unfiltered socket which is close to a Powerline device.  It is therefore advisable to plug any electrically noisy devices directly in the PE Socket power socket so that the noise can be filtered out rather than into a normal power outlet that is within 1 metre of the PE Socket.

Is there an issue with the interference from Powerline and the impact it may have in hospitals and other sensitive areas? Radio HAM users have been against Powerline because of the interference it can generate.

There has been a great deal of debate on the use of PLC (Powerline Communications) and the fact that it gives off frequencies that can interfere with Short Wave Radio.  The nature of Powerline technology that it using Radio Frequency (RF) broadcasts over the mains wires and this RF can leak because mains power cables are typically unshielded cables.

However, with the advent of IEEE1901 (Powerline is now an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standard) there has been significant progress in mitigating these issues with improvements within the new chips that shift frequency automatically on interference.

The majority of communications has moved away from analogue to digital where this interference is less of issue.

Hospitals in Europe have chosen digital communications. It is only in countries where UHF/VHF signals are still required where the application of Powerline technology would need to be tested to see if it can co-exist or not.

With the programming of the Power Ethernet Socket, there are a number of settings that can be tuned within the Powerline chipset to reduce the broadcast power and choice of frequencies used which could be considered for specific applications.

What is the Quality of Service (QoS) feature for?

In general QoS watches the traffic coming from your equipment and the bandwidth requirements of each application in order to optimise the dataflow and to ensure that certain applications such as Voice and Video always get priority over other network events.  The Power Ethernet Sockets will give priority to Voice over IP and IPTV to allow you to have a clean and smooth network.

Does the PE Socket support Quality of Service (QoS)?

Yes, the Power Ethernet Socket has a built in managed switch which provides QoS, tagged VLAN and other advanced networking functionality which can be configured for different priority traffic.

The managed switch and Powerline chip support a 6 band QoS which is preconfigured to support SIP, IPTV, Multicast, Web and UDP connections.  This means that what comes in through the router is subject to .1q tagging and if it is already tagged then it should get priority.

Are PE Sockets suitable for triple play?

Yes, Power Ethernet Sockets create a Powerline network fast enough to transmit video, voice and data at the same time. There is a default Quality of Service (QoS) feature that handles voice, video and internet traffic and allow you to have a clean and smooth network.

How is the switching done throughout the residential, commercial units?

In the majority of UK homes, the same breaker connects all the rings and the network therefore is able to run across the different mains rings because the PowerLine signal can run across the busbar.

If the mains rings are isolated, for example of on different electrical phases of same main feed or different circuit breakers which causes the Powerline network to become segmented, then these different networks can be joined together via a CAT5 cable.

The Powerline standard allows for multiple networks to run across the same mains cables and individual networks can be secured with their own 128 bit AES encryption key.  This network key can be changed to further secure the network or to segment the network.

Is there a central switch, or is the system fully distributed?

The network that is created is a meshed switched Ethernet network so all devices connected can see each other.  Each Power Ethernet Socket has a built-in managed switch which supports QoS, tagged VLANs and other advanced networking functionality to provide the best network performance.

Is the PE Socket more suited to deliver a more reliable wireless network which could possibly co-exist within the enterprise market?

Powerline and WiFi networks coexisting together.  Powerline can help in the deployment of the WiFi network by giving flexibility to the locations where the WiFi routers can be installed.

How can I get Internet connectivity everywhere there is a PE Socket installed?

Just connect one Power Ethernet Socket to the router to share Internet connectivity between all the Power Ethernet Sockets installed in the same network

Do PE sockets incorporate security mechanisms to protect the network against intruders?

Yes, the PE sockets are encrypted with 128bit AES security; the same protection you trust from online banking.

How do I prevent someone else such as a roommate from intercepting data transfer between my PE Sockets?

Using the PE Sockets internal encryption, which is enabled using the software provided

How secure is my data using PE Sockets? Can they be intercepted in any way?

The first time the PE Sockets are install they mesh together creating a secure network encrypted with 128bit AES security with a randomly generated password that protects it against unauthorised access. It is always advisable to change the factory password by using the software provided.

How does power-save mode work? How much power savings provide?

PE Sockets automatically go in to power-safe mode when no network activity is detected such as when the connected computer is switched off or in standby mode. The network link light goes off and the unit goes into power-save mode which uses approximately 50% less energy.

The PE Socket automatically wakes up when there is an active network connection

NOTE: It can take a couple of seconds for the unit to wake up and sync to other PE Sockets. You can check its status by referring to the status LEDs on the front.

Is it possible to turn off the Powerline part of the unit if not in use to conserve power?

The Power Ethernet Sockets automatically go to sleep when there is no active Ethernet connection, but the units can be put into manual hibernation mode where the power consume drops to ~0.5W.  This is done by holding down the reset button for 10 seconds.   The Power Ethernet Socket can be taken out of hibernation mode by pressing the reset button or by power cycling the unit.

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