Ham Radio & PLT devices

Over the past few years and again recently I have heard a lot of chatter regarding PLT interference. Especially with Ham radio and shortwave bands. These devices plug into a power wall socket in your house and allow you to create a wired network via your mains wiring in the property. It’s a perfect solution for properties that cannot send a wireless signal from one end to another (Just like mine).  It does however have a draw back. In creating a wired network these PLT devices create a lot of mains born interference and this can effectively block out any amateur radio bands.

In recent stories I have heard audio samples and read stories of how these devices can create S9+20db of noise. Thus reducing the amateur bands unusable.

I wanted to see for myself the effect of using PLT devices in my property. So I visited PC World and purchased 2 devices from NetGear. The Powerline 500 promise 500Mbit/s and this would solve a huge problem I have in my home right now, but feared for what it would do to my beloved radio.

The results were interesting and nothing what I expected. You can see my full test in the video below – but for a spoiler alert keep reading....

The results were - It did nothing. It had zero effect on any of the bands I use at home. After the video I monitored the shortwave bands and tried other frequencies. Again, nothing.  I tried it while the network was busy - I streamed 4K films and copied a 25Gb file. Guess what. Nothing.

The moral ? – Don’t believe the hype.
Dan Trudgian, MØTGN, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Wiltshire, England. He's a radio nut, IT guru, general good guy and an all round good egg. Contact him him here.

10 Responses to “Ham Radio & PLT devices”

  • Paul, w3FIS:

    FWIIW, I have used WiFi “repeaters” successfully.

  • VE6CPP:

    I don’t think the HF bands are a problem.. Try VHF/UHF Bands ! Read what Freq. your PLT’s are using.. and their Harmonic freq’s. That might show a different story ! I use an ‘Oregon Scientific Wx Station’ with ‘Three Remote Sensors’ on 430Mhz..and I have yet to see a problem on 70cm from any of them either ! Good testing though Sir ! 73

  • Richard KWØU:

    Thanks for the video, Dan. This is interesting because recently I’m getting a permanent S-8 signal on 20 and 15 and have a wired network in the house too. From what I can tell the QRN is not a problem on the commercial AM band, but starts appearing around 3 MHz and gets worse from there. I’ll experiment with cutting out the system and see if anything changes; if anybody is curious about the results please email me (address on QRZ). Incidentally, if anybody has seen a relationship between static (from any source) and dirty in-house power line problems do you know of a filter that can help?

  • Neil w0yse:

    Has anyone tried receiving on 630m or 2200m with a PLT ?

  • N4HG Harry:

    Thanks for the review of the Netgear product. I am going to purchase it. I currently have a Linksys/Cisco product and they produce a ferocious noise at various frequencies over the HF bands. I can disconnect the router end (near my receiver) and the noise drops considerably. When I also disconnect the remote end the noise is completely gone. All products are not equal!


  • Goody K3NG:

    It’s not a matter of hype. The device probably doesn’t interfere because it’s Homeplug compliant. That standard notches out amateur radio band emissions. ARRL (and perhaps others) lobbied Homeplug rather heavily years ago to get the notching incorporated into standards.

  • Scott AK5SD:

    I have a wired gigabit ethernet network in my home and I get tones from the unshielded twisted pairs all over the HF hands. I might actually be better off using a PLT network!

  • Rod G7SYW:

    Hi, I’ve just read your article and can agree with your findings 100% – I have the exact same PLT devices and they make no difference to my received signals whatsoever, my main problem is from the supply companies overhead cabling (very old road and install) which runs along my back garden 🙁

  • Joe VE3FAX:

    Yourr right- you will get flack- It would have been nice to see the rest of the HF band- especially non-Amateur frequencies. If these devices have been notched for the Ham Bands, (per K3NG) great for hams- not for the rest of the RF spectrum users/listeners in your area.

    Just protecting the Ham Bands is not enough. The noise floor across the whloe spectrum is being distroyed by poorly designed devices and caring about the ham bands only is no differnt than any non-ham causing rfi to you…”hey, no RFI on my FM BC radio, so Im good- dont care about thise other frequencies i dont listen to”

    But for your report on the Ham bands you checked,tnx. Perhaps a followup now?

  • Joe VE3FAX:

    Appologies re above comment- I missed your followup info about “monitoring” other sw frequencies and that you found no effect…great news. It is frustratiing when even a small slice of spectrum is unnecessarily destroyed- DC to daylight- when it can be prevented by design.

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