The 8 Best Powerline Network Adapters

Updated October 13, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

8 Best Powerline Network Adapters
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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 internet communications, consider a powerline network adapter that can work instead of, or as a complement to, any existing wireless network. They simply plug into your electrical power lines via a regular socket and offer consistent speeds, reliability, security and ease-of-use, without you having to run Ethernet cables all over the place. 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.

8. Actiontec PWR514WB1

The Actiontec PWR514WB1 has four ports on the bottom so it can simultaneously connect your gaming console, TiVo, smart TV, and still have room for one more device. It's definitely not the fastest option out there, but it is one of the most budget-friendly.
  • extremely compact
  • needs to be unplugged periodically
  • don't support gigabit ethernet
Brand Actiontec
Model PWR514WB1
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Linksys PLEK500

While the Linksys PLEK500 is capped at 500Mbps, this shouldn't really matter since most users rarely experience higher speeds than that, despite advertiser claims, and in real-world testing it reaches speeds on a par with the best of them.
  • stable enough for gaming
  • covers both sockets
  • doesn't have a pass-through outlet
Brand Linksys
Model PLEK500-CA
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. 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. It also has a helpful "pick a plug" feature for finding the best outlets with the fastest connection speeds.
  • no need to install software
  • preserves long-range speeds well
  • connection may drop at times
Model PLP1200-100PAS
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. ZyXel PLA5456

The ZyXel PLA5456 has a helpful One Connect mobile app that allows you to monitor and troubleshoot your connection from anywhere, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, and LED status indicators that are smartly placed on the front for quick visual reference.
  • can be set up by non-techie people
  • one of the fastest options available
  • sticks out far from the wall
Brand ZyXEL
Model PLA5456KIT
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Comtrend PG-9172

The Comtrend PG-9172 is not overly large, yet it can't be called compact either. More than likely it will block any adjacent outlets. It comes with a well-illustrated poster that clearly shows you how to set it up, and it is backward compatible with older units.
  • universal voltage compatibility
  • connection is very stable
  • helpful administration web portal
Brand Comtrend
Model PG-9172-KIT
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

2. TrendNet TPL-408E2K

The TrendNet TPL-408E2K can be purchased individually or as a set of two. It has a simple sync button that helps you to create a secure connection between two units and it comes pre-encrypted. In real world testing, it has achieved sustained speeds of 270Mbps.
  • power-saving mode
  • simple plug-and-play setup
  • can send signals 980 linear feet
Brand TRENDnet
Model TPL-408E2K
Weight 1.2 pounds
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 October 13, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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