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Powerline adapters are an easy and effective way of extending your home network Everything You Need to Know About Home Networking Everything You Need to Know About Home Networking Setting up a home network is not as hard as you think it is. Read More .

They use your existing electrical cabling to carry data, enabling you to push your network into every part of your house without having to install large lengths of ethernet cables or dealing with Wi-Fi blackspots How Wi-Fi Extenders Work & 3 Best Ones You Should Buy How Wi-Fi Extenders Work & 3 Best Ones You Should Buy Wi-Fi extenders, which are sometimes called Wi-Fi repeaters or Wi-Fi boosters, boost the signal from your wireless router. Read More .

powerline illustration

But while powerline networks are simple to set up Powerline Networking: What It Is & Why It Is Awesome [Technology Explained] Powerline Networking: What It Is & Why It Is Awesome [Technology Explained] Read More , very affordable, and can work well, they’re also susceptible to interference from environmental factors. This can leave you with a network that’s slower than you’d like.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can speed up your powerline network.

1) Use the Most Efficient Setup

First things first, you need to make sure you’ve got the basics right. Powerline adapters need to be plugged directly into the wall. Not into surge protectors Do You Really Need a Surge Protector? Do You Really Need a Surge Protector? A surge protector is not the same thing as a power strip! Here's how they're different and why you need surge protectors instead, as well as how to choose a good one. Read More and certainly not into power strips, both of which can block the frequencies that powerlines use.

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powerline adapter

Ideally, you should also put the adapters on the same mains circuit. Powerline signals can cross from one circuit to another, but they lose strength each time they do.

House wiring can be pretty complicated, so if you don’t have access to an electrical wiring map for your home, experiment by using your plugs in different outlets — and even different rooms — to find the best performance.

2) Distance Matters

Range is a factor you have to consider on any network. The further a signal has to travel, the weaker it becomes. With ethernet you are typically limited to 100m or less Wi-Fi vs Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? Wi-Fi vs Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? The world is going wireless. Does that mean it's all over for Ethernet? Read More . With Wi-Fi, it’s more like 30m.

trendnet

For most powerline adapters, the theoretical range is 300 meters. In practice, though, you should try to keep it below 200m.

And remember, we’re not talking about the straight line distance from point A to point B. The amount of wire the signal passes through may be considerably longer than you think it is.

3) Beware Circuit Breakers & Power Cables

Tests have shown that certain types of circuit breaker — specifically, a few brands of AFCI circuit breaker — can block powerline adapters. Since you won’t want to change the circuit breaker itself, all you can do is ensure you don’t plug your adapter into an outlet protected by one of them.

It’s also worth noting that performance depends on the quality of the copper lines in your home. If you live in an old building with old wiring, then your powerline speeds may always be limited beyond your control.

4) Filter Out Noise

A lot of mains-powered devices can produce electrical noise that interferes with the performance of powerline networks. In particular, this includes devices that use switch-mode power supplies such as mobile phone or tablet chargers 10 Smarter Ways to Charge Your Smartphone 10 Smarter Ways to Charge Your Smartphone How do you recharge your phone? At a guess, I'd say you plug it into a standard charger, or even the USB port on your computer. The dull way. Read More .

noise

Noise has greater impact at the receiving end of the network than at the transmitting end, so reduce it near the receiving end whenever possible. Still, reducing noise across the board wouldn’t hurt either.

The effect of noise is local. Avoid plugging your powerline adapter into a twin socket outlet with another device plugged in alongside it, or having another device plugged in within a couple meters of the adapter.

Powerline manufacturer TP-Link recommends plugging devices with electromotors into surge protectors to reduce interference. You can also create a makeshift noise filter of your own by attaching other devices to a long extension lead that’s two meters long or more.

passthrough

But the best solution for dealing with noise is to use powerline adapters with built-in filtered outlets. These feature pass-through sockets that enable you to use the power outlet for other devices without any effect on performance.

5) Upgrade to a Faster Network

If you’ve optimized the environmental factors of your powerline network and you’re still not happy with performance, then consider upgrading your hardware.

It’s important to know that the headline speed quoted by a manufacturer for one of its products is not the actual speed you will actually achieve.

upgrade

For starters, the speeds often show the upload and download speeds combined, meaning that a 1,200 Mbps adapter is potentially providing 600 Mbps upload and download at best. And with everything else taken into consideration, you can expect to get half, or even just a third, of what it says on the box.

With this in mind, upgrading to faster devices — such as those based on the HomePlug AV2 standard — should always be beneficial.

However, another limiting factor exists. No matter how fast your powerline adapters are, your actual Internet speed determines how fast you can connect to the Web. Local area network speeds will be fast — such as when transferring files between home machines — but browsing won’t be as fast.

6) Don’t Mix and Match Adapter Types

When choosing your gear, you should always look to standardize on a single system. Don’t mix and match standards or speeds.

homeplugav2

There is some level of compatibility between certain standards, but it won’t produce anything close to optimal performance. And if you have mismatched speeds, you will always be restricted to the speed of the slowest one.

Powerline Networks Are Worth It

The convenience of a powerline network makes it an ideal choice for any home, especially if you have areas where your Wi-Fi signal won’t reach. If you’re thinking of installing one, here are 8 things you should know about powerline adapters 8 Things About Powerline Adapters You Need to Know First 8 Things About Powerline Adapters You Need to Know First Powerline ethernet adapters basically turn regular electrical outlets into ethernet outlets. As useful as this is, there are some things you should know before using them for your own home network. Read More before diving in.

In most cases they will work well right out of the box, and with just a little tweaking, it’s possible to speed them up even more. The main thing is to experiment with where you plug in your adapters — different outlets and different rooms can produce vastly different levels of performance.

Do you have a powerline network? What kind of performance do you get from it, and what steps have you taken to speed it up? Let us know in the comments!

Image credits: Powerline illustration via devolo.com, Trendnet via trendnet.com, Powerline adapter via solwise.co.uk, Noise via Micah Drushal, Passthrough via devolo.com

  1. Will
    October 1, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I am using the TPLink adapters and they worked great at my old house. Once I moved into my newer house i have not been able to ping my router any better than 600-800mbs delay. I freakin sucks cause my router is less than70 ft away down stairs. IDK whatimado.

  2. Mike Turner
    September 4, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I use a SimplerNetworks 200Mpbs powerline to connect to my shed system some 150 feet in cable length away. It starts from the BT HUb v5 router straight into the powerline, through the mains RCB board, into a ring circuit where it is spurred to an external connector box. From there it is carried via a SWA cable into the shed. From there it is jointed to an internal cable feeding a local MCB board which in turn feeds a lighting circuit and a bunch of 13a twin sockets plus a couple of 4 gang extension sockets. One of the twin sockets feeds the second powerline which then feeds an 8 way gigabyte ethernet switch serving my 3 sometimes 4 PC's and an ethernet printer and any other laptops or PC's I am testing.
    This has been working for over 4 years without problems. My normal speed from the main router is approx 36Mpbs and in the shed it's around 28Mpbs. I have thought of upgrading to a faster powerline but 28 does what I it want it to do and the extra cost wouldn't justify the slight increase in speed.
    I can get wifi but that drops to around 18 if the receiver is not blocked by anything and stops completely if there is a PC box in the way and I don't intend to hold a laptop in the air just to prove I can get wifi in the shed. Years ago I learnt that the best way to ensure decent ethernet connections is to make sure all your connections are tight and secure. that also goes for powerline systems.
    The only time I stop using it is when we are mowing the lawn as I am aware the mower can and does produce spikes which I have no wish to have to deal with. 20 minutes every 2 weeks is something I can live with.

  3. Mario
    August 4, 2016 at 8:47 am

    @ Dave: Same for me: 1200 mbps Powerline adapters comes out with 30mbps although I´m having a 120mbps line and via WLAN I´m getting 70-80mbps but with discnnects...that`s why I wanted to chend to powerline/powerlan....

  4. Hammer
    July 30, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Just bought powerline adaptors, no matter what I do not as fast as wifi. Getting refund

  5. Ron Pippin
    July 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I get better speed from the WiFi than with powerline adapters. Not sure why.

  6. Dave
    June 11, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I have no choice of sockets - unless I have the cable company move the entry point outside my house. My 1200 mbps Powerline adapters, with Cat 6 cables, a 1000 mbps adapter and 235 mbps coming out of my router gives me 35-40 mbps; my wifi checks out at 54.

  7. Jayce
    June 3, 2016 at 2:27 am

    My modem, and water pumps are all in the same room, where should i put my adapter? Outside far away from the room or inside?

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