Only in Portugal!

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Boring techie stuff ahead – be warned!

As I mentioned last week, we’ve just finished moving into our new home in Portugal—or at least we thought we had.

It turns out that the finishing touches are still not quite…finished.

Our biggest challenge at the moment is all the technology, which is quite embarrassing when one of my working hats is that of an IT consultant.

Our house is modern, and beautifully built with a really good finish. Where the builder did go wrong is in deciding how many mains outlets to scatter around. The living / dining room sports just four sockets, one in each corner.

I want one of these
I want one of these

In a world where most people have at least a router, TV, DVD player and TV box, this is insanity. Yes, you can buy adaptors. I know this because we now have loads of them. At last count, we have seven items to plug in on our TV corner, several of which have big clunky plugs that cover up the neighbouring socket.

We’ve finally, thanks to a rather expensive product called PowerCube, been able to plug everything in without having to crawl behind the unit daily. You can take a look at it below – it’s really simple, yet really clever.

allocacoc 240V 4 Way Power Strip PowerCube Duo USB Extended

However, while we’re on the subject of “first world problems,” we’ve also had a problem with our Meo TV package (the Portuguese equivalent to Comcast in the US, or Sky in the UK).

I should have been in IT consultant mode when the engineer came to install it instead of naïve consumer mode, because it was a real bodge job. Like many modern Portuguese homes, we have some data cabling in the walls, but the same builder who was inexplicably stingy with mains plugs only gave us one data port by the TV, which wasn’t sufficient to run the cable up to the bedroom for the second Meo box.

MEO - Portuguese TV and Internet
MEO – Portuguese TV and Internet

What the engineer did was either highly ingenious or really daft, I’ve not quite decided yet. Essentially he used just one split cable both to feed in the ADSL connection, AND send a network connection upstairs in the opposite direction. I think I’ll go for “daft” on the basis that it worked for just a few days. I should have guessed when he was so keen to get out the door on installation day.

Rather than call them back, I decided to do my own thing. We had already (in a separate problem) discovered that our Wi-Fi gets nowhere near the top floor, which, in a cruel twist of fate, is where we’d decided to put our office room. So, I had that problem to sort out too.

I decided to use a clever “home plug” system from Devolo, which feeds the home network over the household wiring, and adds extra wireless access points. Details here:

Devolo dLAN 500 Wi-Fi Starter Kit

I have to say I was very impressed with these units, especially as their equivalents were worse than crap when I used to do IT work full time some years ago. There was just one problem though: they either die or slow down to a crawl as soon as they’re plugged into a multi-plug adaptor. As you will know if you’ve been paying attention, we HAVE to use those, as the builders of this lovely modern property decided one plug is plenty for the corner of a living room. (Although, as if to tease us, they fitted FOUR in the tiny upstairs cloakroom for some unknown reason).

So, as things stand, we still can’t use all of our electronic devices all over the house without lots of plugging and unplugging. We now have, at last count, six spare multi-plug adaptors, and miraculously STILL need to buy another one next time we go to the shopping centre.

The Powercube
The Powercube

I WILL prevail with this eventually – but until then, please don’t ask why our Wi-Fi doesn’t work on the top floor (especially when I “work in IT”), or why I’m crawling around behind the TV again. Anyone doing so may experience a painful encounter with a four-gang socket 😉

I should point out that the products I’ve mentioned above are both REALLY good, and come highly recommended!

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. The Devolo is a neat piece of kit.
    I don’t know what the construction of our single-floor apartment is, but we cannot get Wifi across our hallway!
    It works in the source room and the bedroom immediately adjoining, but not in the two other bedrooms, so we’ve had to fit a Devolo (same as the one you have) and recently added a second outlet for it, so the boys now have one in each room.

    It’s bloody brilliant!
    And it means they can now hook up with ethernet, as well as having decent wifi in their rooms (probably shocking from a parenting standards POV, but do I look bothered?)

    So yeah, another shout out for the Devolo Dlan 500 wifi kit!

  2. Hi Ben/Lou,

    First of all thank you for this blog, it has been brilliant reading from the first post right up to this one. Up until now i have been one of (I’m sure the great many) silent readers out there, but your tech plight has forced me to speak up 😛

    Have you tried pass through devices? You can get powerline pass through devices like the BT Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 kit. All the benefits of Devolo but without making a valuable plug socket unusable! You can also get pass through usb chargers (search for pass through usb charger) which will allow you to power/charge say, a phone or tablet via the usb wire, but again leave the power socket free. These are all British variations but I’m sure some with a European fitting must exist.

    Good luck putting the finishing touches to your new place and keep going with the blog – it’s great reading the continuing success of your move to Portugal and it gives people like me belief and hope that some day they can do the same!

  3. Hi Tracy – yes, we were very impressed with it, just thwarted a little by our lack of sockets! Still, I stand by my recommendation, they work very well!

    Hi pdsc and welcome to the blog!

    I was aware of the pass-through versions, but unfortunately they had none in our local shop – it’s a shame I’m so impatient, I should have ordered pass-through ones online instead!

    Best wishes,


  4. Loving your blog. Giving me so many insights into the move I want to make to Portugal in the next year.
    Since you have this tech post& with your background I wonder if you know the answer to a question. Would an Amazon Firestick work with an internet connection in portugal. With Firestick I currently have not only American Tv, but connections to programing all over the world.

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