10 Best Powerline Network Adapters | March 2017

If you're having trouble with home or office communications, consider a powerline network adapter that can work instead of, or as a complement to, any existing wireless network. They offer consistent speeds, reliability, security and ease-of-use. Skip to the best powerline network adapter on Amazon.
10 Best Powerline Network Adapters | March 2017

Overall Rank: 9
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 3
Best Inexpensive
The Linksys Home AV2 Powerline Kit delivers state of the art performance over your home wiring by offering a gigabit ethernet port that transfers data up to 10 times faster than most base systems deliver.
Establish a networking infrastructure for your home or business with the TP-LINK TL-PA511. This system is capable of seamlessly transmitting multiple data streams to multiple rooms, even those as demanding as 3D movies.
The innovative Actiontec PE500WLS Network Adapter stands out from the competition with a stylish bright LED light display and technology that is "smarter" than most WiFi repeaters, especially thanks to its pushbutton security option.
Extend access throughout your whole property with the Netgear Powerline 500 Nano 1, which offers easy, plug-and-play setup and faster speeds suitable for the most demanding applications, including serious gaming or HD media.
  • no streaming lag time
  • pick-a-plug led finds ideal placement
  • secure encryption capabilities
Brand Netgear
Model XAVB5101-100PAS
Weight 13.6 ounces
With more reliable signal strength and security than most wireless units, the Actiontec PWR514 can simultaneously connect your gaming console, TiVo, smart TV, and more. It has four ports on its bottom for connecting devices.
  • simple plug and play setup
  • works with any ethernet-enabled device
  • gigabit-fast wired connections
Brand Actiontec
Model PWR514WB1
Weight 9.6 ounces
At 1.2 Gbps speeds, the Netgear PLP1200-100PAS provides the highest possible performance from a device that can be set up in minutes by someone with almost no technical expertise. Its multiple data streams offer superior coverage.
  • no need to install software
  • encrypts at the touch of a button
  • extra noise-filtered power outlet
Brand Netgear
Model PLP1200-100PAS
Weight 1.4 pounds
Secure and reliable high-speed connections await, thanks to the Western Digital Livewire Powerline Kit, which comes to you offering ports for connecting as many as eight devices at once. This is a great choice for schools or offices.
  • automatic 128-bit encryption
  • speeds up to 200 megabits per second
  • cd with utility software included
Brand Western Digital
Weight 1.6 pounds
The demure, ultra-compact TP-LINK AV500 Nano Powerline seamlessly blends into most walls when popped into any power outlet. The unit creates a robust and reliable network for the smaller home or apartment.
  • homeplug av standard compliant
  • requires no configuration
  • up to 300 meter range through walls
Model TL-PA4010KIT
Weight 14.4 ounces
Turn any home electrical outlet into a high-speed network connection hub with the NETGEAR XAV1004 Powerline Adapter. It comes equipped with Ethernet ports and bandwidth traffic priority, so you work faster and smarter.
  • easily connect gaming devices to your tv
  • gives direct home access to stored files
  • connects up to 4 devices
Brand Netgear
Model XAV1004
Weight 1.3 pounds
The unique modular mix-and-match design of the Global Cache GC-100-18R makes it easy to manage and access diverse devices via network-based software, so even if you use an eclectic variety of hardware, this unit ties it all together.
  • infrared, serial, and relay links
  • includes easy to install rack mount kit
  • great for coordinating a/v systems
Brand Global Caché
Model GC-100-18
Weight 2.4 pounds

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: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information