CHOICE membership

Home Networking: Ethernet, powerline adapters, and Wifi

It is easy to run LAN cabling through the ceiling in “house on slab” situation (climb through the manhole into the ceiling space). For a brick veneer home it is easier to thread a cable down the wall cavity of an external wall, than it is to thread it down through the wall cavity of an internal wall.
If you can do the physical labour of running/pulling the cables yourself this will reduce how much you pay an electrician as they simply have to terminate the cables on new appropriate wall plates.


You may be right in some cases. In others not so easy. If the noggins or top plates in internal walls are not punched or there is insulation it may be quite hard to get cables through. In all brick construction there are no cavities in internal walls. In external walls insulation may be a problem.

Many modern houses have quite shallow roof spaces (14 to 20 degree slope roofing) and it is very hard to get around in them at all. Out near the external walls it may be impossible. Electricians can resort to taking off part of the roof to get to the top of external walls.

It is hard to say how it will go without trying it. I would not encourage people with no experience to count on doing it sight unseen.


Lots of good points.

Additional comments:

If you have a good verandah (good eaves generally) then external walls may be less of an issue.

As far as taking parts of the roof off, that depends on the roof construction material. Tiles - fairly easy. Corrugated iron - not as easy. In either case you want to make damned sure that the roof is still watertight after the job has been done.

So … the cost has to be assessed based on an inspection of the details of the specific property.

Properly designed energy efficient homes will have some helpful features (good roof pitch, good eaves/verandah) but some unhelpful features (wall insulation).


The assumption here is that your electrician or cabler will be prepared to accept your work is to code/standard?

It might pay to check with your friendly tradie first. They may be happy for you to crawl around the roof and not them? In which instance they will probably supply the cable and any conduit required and some guidance about separation from 240v cables etc to you. They get the cable etc at a much better price than most of us ever could.

I much prefer to send in the sacrificial apprentice, appologies youthful trainee who’s safety will be managed by turning of all power first and ensuring it’s not too hot up there. Risk management is important. There are other hazards but I assume the pythons can usually take care of themselves.

I’ve in more than one instance removed selected roof sheets at the key locations above where I need the services. This assumes your house is suitable for getting the cables down the wall cavity. It makes access so much simpler, and reduces your risk of needing a difficult emergency services rescue after you have a heart attack in the roof.

It’s also a great way to speed the tradie up if you have them do the cabling and you have agreed this need before hand. I’ve also put batts in three houses and would now always do it by removing sheets for access and ventilation if you do choose DIY.


One doesn’t need a licensed electrician to install data cables…this can be done by anyone who is capable of doing the work. Usually electricians also do data cables as they are experienced in running electrical cable in walls/through buildings and know some shortcuts to save time.

The terminations and wall plates are also very easy to install if one has the right tools. A punch down tool is necessary for the terminations into the RJ45 (wall) sockets. Punch down tools can be bought for less than $10 delivered.

The RJ45 terminations sockets also label which wires go where (colour coded) to ensure that wires are not accidentially crossed over.

Wall plates are inexpensive and one needs a drill, hole saw bit and drill bits.

Things to look out for are electricsl cables when drilling (this can be avoided by installing the wall plates on different stud spacing to that of power points) and also being patient so the finished installation looks as good as the professionals.

There are also many videos on youtube on how to run cables, terminate to a RJ45 socket and installing wall plates. These are worth watching if one has not done such before.


Yes and no.

Some of our rules on ‘only those licensed may do’ for often quite mundane things has always caused me to believe many related laws are nothing but vestiges of union demarcation issues and work (not worker) protection.

My ‘bad attitude’ started when I discovered a certain ‘home owner’ license to do fairly mundane and straight forward work in one’s own house required exams and cost as much as getting a trade certification, and then expired after a year.



I can’t see where there is any exception for work to be performed by an unregistered person other than working under the supervision of a registered cabler.

Advice in the ACMA summary worth considering:

  • A key requirement of the Wiring Rules is that telecommunications cabling is adequately separated or segregated from electrical cabling to avoid the potentially hazardous situation where simultaneous penetration from nails, screws, drills, saws and other sharp objects may cause harmful electrical current to appear on the telecommunications cable .

Whether the current Federal legislation is reasonable might suit a separate topic?


The rules are poorly worded. I understand that upstream of the router/modem (router to NBN network or router to phone exchange for ADSL2+) a registered cabler is required to do the work as this portion is seen as being a communications cables.

Downstream from the router to the LAN wall socket is not seen the same way as there is no direct connection to communications cable…there is the router in between. Such can ge done by an unregistered person

This interpretation is also of a brother-in-law that works for one of the telecoms companies. He indicated that a LAN could be disconnected or isolated from from the communications connection making it a different network to that of the communications network.

I see Choice has covered it in the past with different view…


As a mate opined, ‘I doubt there is a single home in [X] that exactly matches the building permit or has not had technically illegal modifications, refurbs, wiring, cabling, or plumbing done.’

Considering the draconian pervasiveness of ‘the rules’ one could reasonably conclude our only rights in our home are to enter and exit through doors, and to open and close the windows, without licenses.

Choice reasonably tries to adhere to the rules and one would expect they validated the interpretation requiring all cabling to be done (or supervised) by an installer per ACMA. @mark_m’s extraction seems to explain it.


No need for cabling!
For $150, we bought six TP-Link® Powerline Adapters (Model No. TL-PA211) which simply plug into any electrical power point. They use the home’s wiring to transmit the signals from the modem’s adapter to an adapter plugged in to a power point near each of the connected devices. An Ethernet cable then passes the data from the adapter to the target device. This reply is not an advertisement for TP-Link; I’m sure that similar adapters from other manufacturers would work just as well.
It may sound a little worrying, using live electrical wiring to connect your devices, but this is very well established technology that has been working safety all over the world for a number of years.
An added bonus benefit is security – your WiFi is visible to anyone with a computer, tablet or smart-phone within range of your wireless router. We’ve all heard stories of hackers and hijackers who have ways of getting around simple security. A hard-wired connection is not vulnerable to being broken into by a passing bandwidth bandit or an unscrupulous neighbour.
So far, our two computers and the Video Recorder have been connected and are working perfectly. The response times on both of the computers and the video recorder (when it is accessing ABC Iview and SBS On Demand) is faster and more consistent that the WiFi was.
The multi-function printer is similarly connected via its own adapter and, after a little fiddling with the network connection settings, now produces printed output as normal and also accommodates the scanning and fax functions for both of our computers.


They are indeed a good solution for some, and here is an objective overview.


Excellent article. Plenty of Upsides. Here are my responses to the Downside Points:
Powerline networking is dependent on the electrical wiring of the house. Really only applies older properties - We’ve had no such issues.

The wiring is also susceptible to electrical interference. After 4 years of using the adapters, no issues with interference from appliances.

The Powerline adapter needs to plugged directly into the outlet. Correct. With left/right double adapters we connect two adapters and two other powered devices to a single double electrical power-point. Looks reasonably neat too.

Older, and less robust Powerline adapters often limit the speed of the network connection via the use of 10/100 ports, rather than 10/100/1000 Gigabit ports. Performance has never been an issue. We get 25Mbps from our NBN (lowest cost) connection.

From a cost perspective, Powerline networking can get expensive as well. A set of Powerline adapters can cost from$50 to $100, As noted previously, the cost was $150 for six adapters

Finally, the Powerline networking adapters both consume electricity. Very small amount I would think although haven’t tried to measure it. Probably would take a long time to catch up with the cost of hard-wiring the connections.


One disadvantage that is not covered is that seemingly such a device won’t work when the power is out.

That might seem obvious but the alternative (ethernet cabling) allows all the devices to run off battery (UPS) during the power outage. I’m sure someone more clever than I could hack the powerline networking hardware to fix that but …

Whether speed is an issue depends on whether most of your bandwidth is used communicating with the internet or within your home network. If the latter, then powerline networking is unlikely to be really competitive for speed e.g. my pair of devices quote speed as “200 Mbit/sec” i.e. 5 times slower than GbE. My devices are a bit old though. You should be able to get up to “500 Mbit/sec” today.


I understand that one of the problems with the NBN generally is that most of it will be down when the power is out. While end-points may have battery backup, FTTN relies upon power.


While the above quote is true, your powerline network may be vulnerable to an unscrupulous house guest or visitor. This is a classic security convenience tradeoff. It is quick and easy to get a new powerline device up and running on the network - easily done if you leave the room for 30 seconds. You don’t want to be too paranoid but you should understand the attack points.

WiFi is generally secure if you choose a strong passphrase. Choosing weak passwords or using factory default passwords gets you into trouble with most technologies.

One functional difference between powerline and WiFi is that WiFi easily supports multiple networks (multiple SSIDs) so that, for example, you can have a network for guests that you intentionally expose to them (while using a different network yourself). I’m not sure that it is anywhere near as easy to do the same with powerline networking.

Also, while the Networking 101 article claims that powerline networking can’t pass through your meter box, I have always been a bit concerned about that - particularly as the nature and complexity of your “meter box” changes over time. At the very least you would want to lock your meter box (so that only the meter reader can snoop your network).


You mean in the node itself?

I don’t think there is any such thing as “NBN generally”. :slight_smile: The details will depend on what technology is in use and what design and deployment decisions were made by the network builder. In particular you could find that you have power but somewhere important between your house and your ISP does not have power, and hence that your internet is dead.

However my observation about powerline networking was specific to the situation inside your home when your home does not have power.


Home powerline networking requires each adaptor to be deliberately added to the network. There is also encryption as well as the need to push the respective button/s to complete a physical connection.


Yes, someone might be able to bust into your physical network. If you have a GPO in the meter box and they can guess when you are about to enable another adaptor? High risk?

You still need some greater than lay knowledge and tools to take the best advantage of this opportunity! The risk of being detected and physically traced from this form of access is also high!


Or the attacker just leaves a suitable interception device in your meter box (under the assumption that you will eventually enable another adaptor, or maybe have to reset your powerline devices for some reason).

It would be a niche attack - particularly as I think that these devices are themselves niche devices (most people use WiFi?) - but it is funny to think that it’s like putting a network port outside, accessible to the street and generally unlocked. (It is also worth considering whether you have accessible power points.)

We also used them in the past…up until about 1-2 months ago…however, we found that the small power spike created when inserting into a powerpoint or turning on started causing our router to crash (we plugged in or turned point on immediately before device use ratger than on continuously)…and more recently it would cause the router to lose all settings (meaning one had to take time to reset uo the router).

The cost to replace the router with a similar quality/options to the existing one was more than the cost of cabling…which ultimately could also be used when the NBN arrives. Hence why cable was installed. The old router still works fine but is very sensitive to the power line adaptor spikes.

They also can have limitations where a house has multiple power circuits and each circuit is wired such the data can’t be communicated between circuits.

I have had fhe same thoughts as well. Possibly with the older type indirectional meters the signal may not cross the meter, but with modern meters which are replacing the old unidirectional meters, along with bidirectional meters for solar installations, I wonder if the same still applies.

Maybe there is measures within modern meters to protect the signal crossing over the meter…such as to prevent signal switching of different offpeak tarrifs on and off?

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