Can You Send Audio or Video Over Existing Home Wiring?

PLC allows you to extend networks and send A/V info over home wiring.

Powerline Audio System from IO Gear
Powerline Audio System from IO Gear.

Have you dreamed of using your home's existing wiring for network or audio distribution? Power Line Communication (PLC) refers to a technology that allows for communication over existing power cables in a home or building. HomePlug is a PLC standard that can distribute audio, video, and control signals via your home's existing electrical wiring. You can use the same system to extend a Wi-Fi network.

HomePlug and other PLC standards allow you to have a multiroom audio system in your home without having to install new wiring. You can also use the tech to extend an existing network, though a PLC system cannot replace a router or modem.

You can find many brands of power line network adapters from brands like Netgear, Linksys, Trendnet, and Actiontec. They are sold in pairs: One is meant to be plugged into a wall outlet near your router, and the other in the room where you want the network or A/V connection to be. For homes where Wi-Fi coverage isn't great and you don't want to re-wire for an A/V or network connection, this is a great way to better distribute access.

HomePlug Standards: AV, AV2, AV MIMO, nVoy

Adapters are certified by the HomePlug Alliance and carry a HomePlug Certified logo. HomePlug AV and AV2 are SISO (single input/single output) and use two wires (hot and neutral) in your home electrical wiring.

The AV2 MIMO (multiple in/multiple out) standard with beamforming uses those two wires and also the ground, which improves the reliability of high-bandwidth transmissions.

The HomePlug Alliance sponsors the nVoy Program to develop the software layer that integrates HomePlus with Wi-Fi. The aim is that HomePlug technology is built into components to offer plug-and-play connectivity.

If your stereo system utilizes Ethernet components, you would be able to use HomePlug or Wi-Fi to distribute it throughout your house.

Advanced Systems With Power Line Communications

More advanced systems and components were offered by Russound with the Collage Powerline Media and Intercom System. It consisted of an amplified in-wall keypad for each room with 30 watts of power (15-watts x 2) and a small full-color display. Each control keypad had an FM tuner and a Media Manager that connected the system to a home Ethernet network for sharing content between zones. A pair of in-wall speakers would be installed in each room. 

NuVo Technologies developed the Renovia, a 6-source multiroom system for as many as eight zones or rooms. Audio sources connect to a Renovia Source Hub, which includes built-in AM/FM tuners and satellite radio tuners. Additional sources, such as a CD player, can also be connected to the Source Hub for a total of six sources.

The Collage and Renovia systems were aimed at the retrofit installation market—homes where installing room-to-room wiring isn't feasible or too expensive. Both systems need to be professionally installed.