Do power line local area networks work across circuit breakers?

Mendy Schapiro May 4, 2012

I was wondering if signals on a power line local area network will reach different circuit breakers in the same house.

For example, if I have 3 breakers in my house (1 for the bedrooms, 1 for the kitchen and 1 for the bathrooms) can my powerline network adapter send the Internet signal from the bedroom and receive it in the kitchen?


  1. renii
    July 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

    As long as the circuit breaker is closed and not tripped or open the signal goes through.
    Breakers attach to the electrical panel "bus" by different methods. Some bolt on, but many residential panels have breakers that "plug in". The plug in types are more prone to developing bad connections. Most times from arc burns, pitting, or overheating. If your signal is bad on one circuit, it may be better on another. Once the signal reaches the panel "bus" it's available to anything connected to that panel. Usually the whole house. If your in doubt about a circuit breaker touch it with a finger. If it feels hot or is vibrating or making a noise something is wrong. If a breaker develops a bad connection to the bus it can generate a lot of interference to signals from your computer. BE SAFE It's best not to monkey around in electrical panels if you don't know your way around them. Unless you have an electrician in your household, you need to call one from the yellow pages. Bzzzzap!

  2. Oron
    May 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    The official advice is that adapters should only be used "on the same circuit", but in my experience, yes, they usually work across circuit breakers too. Distance and poor quality wiring, as well as multiple breaks in the line (e.g. plugging them into extension cables) seems to have a greater effect than the circuit "rule".

  3. Mike
    May 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    In general Powerline networks work across circuit breakers.
    The only units most likely to block the Powerline signals are EMI (electro-magnetic interference) and RFI (radio frequency interference) protectors.

    At the end of the day it always depends on the distance (cable length) and interference caused by other electrical equipment. For example having a freezer and a microwave on the same circuit as the Powerline units is probably a bad idea ~ although it still might work.

  4. Kaggy
    May 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    from what i know, no it doesn't work across breakers

  5. Susendeep Dutta
    May 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    MUO has an article for it.

    Powerline Networking: What It Is & Why It Is Awesome [Technology Explained] -


    • Matt Smith
      May 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

      Awww. That's one of the first articles I wrote for MUO.

      Anyway, as people have said, they should work. I've used power line adapters across breakers in two different apartments over the last three years.

  6. Bruce Epper
    May 4, 2012 at 7:38 am

    The ones I have seen work throughout the entire house or apartment. I was fixing a computer in an apartment last week where they the signal was running from the living room (one circuit) to the bedroom (separate circuit). It wouldn't surprise me to find that you could trace the signals all the way to the street transformer.

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