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Why can buying a HomePlug be so complicated?

Why can buying a HomePlug be so complicated? Surely a 200AV plug is just a plug, don’t they all do the same thing?

Why are they all so different in price, when at the end of the day they all look the same?  

Louise Barrett of Solwise explains why all HomePlugs are not the same 

Well the truth is, although they might all look much the same, the inside can vary immensely from plug to plug.  What many people don’t understand is that there are different chipset levels.

What is a chipset? 

A chipset is a set of electronic components in an integrated circuit that manages the data flow between the processor, memory and peripherals.  Chipsets are usually designed to work with a specific family of microprocessors. Because it controls communications between the processor and external devices, the chipset plays a crucial role in determining system performance.

What this actually means in the real world is that a chipset is the piece inside the HomePlug that makes it work and sets the specification level of the plug. 

Why can buying a HomePlug be so complicated?
A pair of HomePlug 200AV powerline adapters

200AV products

The most obvious differences in the 200AV products is that with the Premium INT6400 chipset products you can have 8 plugs active at any one time whereas it is just 4 active plugs in the standard QCA6410 chipset. 

Here at Solwise, we are upfront about the different chipsets so that you can choose the right products for you. It is quite difficult to establish which chipset is in many of the HomePlugs available on the market today.  

Much of the time, the only way to tell is the price, having said that, if you look at our PL-200AV-TWIN, that is a great price and it has the Premium chipset!

Another way to tell the difference between the 200AV chipsets is by checking the specifications carefully; the standard QCA6410 units do not support Quality of Service.

This might not mean much to you, but what it allows you to do on the Premium INT6400 products is to prioritise the data over your HomePlugs, ideal for VoIP and multimedia applications.

Why can buying a HomePlug be so complicated?
HomePlug 500AV adapters with a built-in WiFi extender

500AV chips

The differences between the 500AV chips are more obvious.  The standard AR7420 products only have 10/100 Ethernet ports that max out at 100Mbps, whereas the Premium AR7400 devices have Gigabit Ethernet ports which can go to 100Mbps. 

As with the 200AV products, there are limitations on active plugs with the standard units offering eight active plugs and the Premium units allowing 64.

The biggest difference on the 500AV units though is the throughput; the standard units give you 95Mbps, which is pretty good, however the Premium units give you 250Mbps!

Price or reliability?

So based on specification and price, is there any benefit to buying standard 500AV products over Premium 200AV?  

Feedback shows that there is a more stable and reliable service from 200AV Premium chipset over the 500AV standard chipset. I’ve produced a table to compare the available HomePlug AV chipsets in detail.

Based on price, if you are a looking for a WiFi set up of an Ethernet Plug and a WiFi plug, then you will save yourself around £10 going for the 500AV standard kit in the Solwise range!

Louise Barrett is responsible for building awareness of new products and services at Solwise

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