The 10 Best Powerline Network Adapters

Updated May 26, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. If you're having trouble with home or office connectivity, consider a power line network adapter that can work instead of, or as a complement to, any existing network. They simply plug into your A/C power lines via a regular socket and offer consistent speeds, reliability, and security, without the need to run Ethernet cables everywhere. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best powerline network adapter on Amazon.

10. Actiontec 500

The Actiontec 500 has four ports on the bottom, so it can simultaneously connect your gaming console, TiVo, and smart TV, with room left for one more device. It's definitely not the fastest option out there, but it is one of the most budget-friendly.
  • extremely compact construction
  • not sold as a complete kit
  • lacks gigabit ethernet support
Brand Actiontec
Model PWR514WB1
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Linksys PLEK500

While the Linksys PLEK500 is capped at 500 Mbps, it shouldn't really matter, because most users don't see that much throughput from their ISP anyway. Plus, in real-world testing it reaches speeds comparable to many of the newer ones.
  • relatively low latency
  • often covers both sockets
  • doesn't have a pass-through outlet
Brand Linksys
Model PLEK500-CA
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. NetGear PLP1200-100PAS

The NetGear PLP1200-100PAS has a thick and durable casing that should be able to stand up to a few bumps if you accidentally hit it with a piece of furniture. This one's a LAN-only setup, ideal for use with your existing wireless router or mesh.
  • no need to install software
  • preserves long-range speeds well
  • its power-saving mode causes drops
Model PLP1200-100PAS
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Comtrend Bridge

The Comtrend Bridge operates on the somewhat obscure protocol, the only alternative to the ubiquitous AV2. This model is notable because it delivers Power-over-Ethernet capability, which is generally used by small, always-on peripherals.
  • perfect for security camera systems
  • middle-of-the-pack speeds
  • rather high per-unit cost
Brand Comtrend
Model PG-9172POE
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Comtrend GCA-6000

In cases where a home's wiring prohibits standard power line systems, the Comtrend GCA-6000 may be just the solution. It uses the much less-traveled coaxial cable, which lacks the electrical noise and breaker boxes that so often interfere with the signal.
  • the only choice for some buildings
  • uses the less popular ghn protocol
  • won't work with cable tv or internet
Brand Comtrend
Model Comtrend Powerline
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. ZyXel Pass-through

The ZyXel Pass-through has a helpful mobile app that allows you to monitor and troubleshoot your connection from anywhere. It features twin gigabit Ethernet ports, hardwired MIMO technology, and easily visible LED status indicators.
  • no tech skills needed for setup
  • good real-world performance
  • protrudes somewhat far from the wall
Brand ZyXEL
Model PLA5456KIT
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Extollo Una

The Extollo Una is a relatively new product that's refined and combined the most effective designs yet to offer just about the fastest transfers possible. These are purchased individually and spaced out throughout the house to provide an ultra-fast connection.
  • create an instant wi-fi mesh
  • auto-optimize each wireless device
  • among the most expensive
Brand Extollo Communications
Model pending
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

2. Extollo LANPlug 2000

Designed to create a hard-wired connection in any room, the Extollo LANPlug 2000 is among the fastest in the category in real-world usage. It can communicate directly with a computer or smart TV, or work behind an additional Wi-Fi extender.
  • enhanced range using beam-forming
  • ideal for 4k video streaming
  • sold in individual units
Brand Extollo Communications
Model pending
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

How Powerline Networking Works

Powerline networking is a communication protocol that allows you to use electrical wiring to carry broadband data between devices. It's the ideal way to extend an existing network to other areas of your home or business, without having to run more Ethernet cables or get a more powerful router. A router or modem is connected to an adapter, which is then plugged into a standard wall socket. Another device somewhere else is connected to a similar adapter and also plugged into a wall socket. Once both adapters are plugged in, they make a network connection via the electrical wiring.

Electrical wiring in the common home can support a number of frequencies and signal types. Electricity is transferred at 50 and 60 Hz. Another signal can be sent along the same wire, at the same time as the electrical current as long as it running at a different frequency. If you send another signal at a different frequency across the same wire, it won't interfere with, or be affected by, the electricity. Your internet data gets transmitted at 3 kHz or higher, which means neither signal has any chance of interfering with the other.

While you may have only started hearing about powerline networking recently, it isn't a new technology. The power companies have been using it since the 1920s to send signals to electric meters. This is how they know to switch to off-peak rates at different times.

Powerline Vs. WiFi

One might think that with the prevalence of wireless internet, there would be no need for anything that makes use of a wired connection, but powerline networking actually has a number of benefits over Wi-Fi.

First and foremost is connection quality. Unlike with Wi-Fi, your signal strength won't decrease as you get farther away from the signal source. Your network strength will be just as good 50' away from your internet source as it is 5' away. A powerline network is also more stable than Wi-Fi and will never drop a connection unless your internet goes out completely. Faster speeds are another huge advantage of powerline networks. Both Wi-Fi router companies and powerline network companies tout speeds considerably higher than any user will ever experience, but actual users of powerline networks have seen speeds upwards of 500 Mbps, as opposed to Wi-Fi where it is rare for any user to experience real life speeds over 100 Mbps.

Security is another area where a powerline network is more advantageous than a WLAN. It is easier for a hacker to access your network when the signal is being broadcast to areas outside of your home, and let's face it, most of us try to buy the strongest router possible to ensure we get a good Wi-Fi signal in every nook and cranny of our home. In order to gain access to a powerline network, a hacker would have to physically connect to one of your wall outlets.

Powerline networks are also easier to set up as you will find out in the next section. They don't require you to mess around with confusing router settings or set up a password-protected wireless local area network.

How To Set Up A Powerline Network

Trying to hook up a device that doesn't have wireless capabilities to your router or modem can be inconvenient, especially if the device is far away from your internet source. You will have to buy a really long Ethernet cable and then figure how to hide it so you aren't left with an unseemly wire running along your floor or ceiling. Setting that same device up with a powerline network takes away all the hassle, and doesn't require any technical know-how. No matter how tech savvy you may or may not be, if you can plug in your TV or your blender, you can set up a powerline network.

The majority of powerline network adapter kits you buy will come with at least two adapters, but some may include three or even four. Just check to be sure you aren't accidentally purchasing one adapter that is being sold as an add-on to other kits. You need at least two adapters to make a powerline network connection.

Your first adapter needs to be connected via an Ethernet cable to your internet source. This can be your modem or a wireless router if you will be using one in conjunction with your powerline network. The other adapter gets attached to the device you want to provide with internet connectivity, also through an Ethernet cable, and then plugged into another wall socket. The two adapters will automatically detect each other and the connection will be made. That's all it takes. You'll now have a working powerline network set up in your home.

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Last updated on May 26, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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