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Modern homes have a ton of devices that need to be connected to the internet simultaneously. I am talking about those gaming consoles, media streaming devices, and Smart TVs (while not forgetting about smartphones, tablets and laptops).
These devices aren't concentrated in one single area of your house, which means in order to have a stable internet across all of these devices, your router must be in an optimal place.
But more often than not, you can't cover a large house with a single router and need to expand your network, via a wired connection through Ethernet cables, or wirelessly through WiFi extenders and access points.
We have discussed both of these methods in detail in the above-linked roundups and both of them have their respective pros and cons.
For the sack of this article, you just need to know that wired-based connection is very reliable and secure, but it's too difficult to run Ethernet cables all across your house. On top of that, these wires will cost you a lot of money.
To solve this issue, here are Powerline adapters.
Best Powerline Adapter 2020 Review Guide
These adapters are wired in nature since they don't expand your network via a wireless connection. But instead of an Ethernet cable, these adapters utilize the existing electrical wiring of your house, and save you from any extra cost.
This way, you can use these adapters in a number of situations.
- You can use them to connect your non-WiFi devices, such as gaming consoles and smart TVs.
- You can use them in areas where running an Ethernet cable is not feasible.
The main thing which differentiates the powerline adapters from other network-expanding methods (such as extenders and access points) is the fact that these adapters come in two or more units, rather than just a single device.
So if you buy a powerline kit, you'll get two adapters: A and B.
In order to use, you'll have to plug Adapter A into a socket near your Wireless router, and then connect that adapter with your router through a network cable.
After this, you'll have to plug the Adapter B into an electric socket in another area/room of your house where you have a device that you want to connect. Then, you'll connect that device with Adapter B through a patch cable (like you connected Adapter A and the router).
And that is it. Thanks to their plug-n-play nature, nothing else is required on your part.
So far these adapters seem so good, don't they?
BUT, they do have some limitations and vulnerabilities which should be mentioned.
First of all, these kits aren't as reliable as compared to other range-extending options. Many times, electric wiring of your house goes old, or you may put these adapters too far from each other - both of which are less than ideal environments for these adapters.
Basically, without talking in advance to the electrician in your area, there's no guaranteed way for you to find how well these kits will perform.
Security is another factor. If you have your own house, chances are that there will be a transformer outside your house, which will scramble signals coming from those adapters.
But if you live in an apartment or something like that, your neighbor might steal some internet bandwidth from you if somehow he get a compatible adapter and you forgot to enable encryption offered by that adapter.
You can think of this encryption thing just like the WiFi password for your network.
Lastly, there's conflict between different types of powerline adapters. Different types of powerline adapters don't play well with each other, so choose and implement same model for your whole house.
Best Powerline Adapter 2019 / 2020 Roundup Review
D-Link DHP-601AV: Check Price On Amazon
Best Powerline Adapter For Streaming
Like other powerline kits, DHP-601AV by D-Link comes in the form of two units. Both of these units pretty small and compact, which is good because many times, these plug-in devices come in large sizes and block the other nearby power sockets nearby.
In order to make it less expensive and compact, there are no advanced functionalities like Pass-through power socket and built-in wifi.
Each of these units has three LED lights indicating about power, ethernet, and LAN. When/if all of them are showing a green light, it means everything is good.
On the bottom side of each unit, there's a single LAN port. Along this LAN port is the 'setup button'. But unlike what its name suggests, this is actually an encryption button.
Since powerline adapters run along the electric wiring of your house, there's a theoretical chance of your neighbor piggybacking your internet data. This way, it's better to turn this encryption on.
This kit has the plug-n-play capability, which can be both a good or bad thing, depending on how you see it. On one hand, you won't have to worry about any companion software, but on the other hand, there's no way to track your home network either.
Speaking of the setup, you just need to connect one of them with your router (via an ethernet cable) and then plug into a nearby power socket. After this, plug the other one in the power socket of your desired locations, and that's it. Nothing more needs to be done.
According to D-Link, this kit can provide you up to 1000 Mbps speed, but your electric wiring should be nothing less than optimal. If that's not the case, you'll be lucky to even get half of that speed.
That being said, it provides a good price-to-performance ratio and we found it particularly good for the video streaming.
Extollo LANSocket 1500: Check Price On Amazon
Best Powerline Adapter For Gaming
LANSocket 1500 is our pick for the best powerline kit for gamers simply because of its outclass performance.
But before getting to the main point, we'll discuss its design.
Coming with 2.5" × 1.5" × 4.5" dimensions, these adapters are bulky - like many others in their price bracket, and may prevent you from utilizing the nearby power outlet.
But before you disappoint, let me tell you that Extollo has built-in pass-through power socket on its back through which you can connect any other electrical device. In case you want to go even further, you can plug a power board on top of this adapter and then plug multiple devices onto the board.
This way multiple devices can utilize a single power socket. One thing you need to remember though is that in order to make these adapters work, you have to plug them directly into the power socket.
As far as the setup goes, this kit comes in the form of two adapters and 2 short-sized patch cables (very short to be honest, and you may need ones of your own). You just need to plug each of these adapters in a 110V power socket and rest of the steps are same as in other powerline adapters.
These two adapters will start the powerline network in your house. After this, you'll need one adapter for every device you want to connect to home network. You can connect as much as 16 devices in your network through these adapters which means that you can have as much as 17 adapters like this in your home.
Another good thing I've found about them is that they also support powerline adapters from other vendors.
Although the maximum supported length for electric wiring is 985 meters for this kit, powerline adapters work better in the shorter distance.
As I told earlier, powerline adapters aren't too useful if you live in a multi-apartment building because your neighbor can potentially sneak into your home network.
In order to prevent this, these adapters come with a sync button on their right side. This sync button creates a private home network between these two adapters (or even with another adapter in the future). To enable it, you need to press and hold it for 3 Seconds, and do the same on the other one within 2 minutes.
One thing to be noted here, however, is that by enabling this feature you won't be able to use powerline adapters from other vendors with this kit. And in case you want to undo this sync button, just press and hold this button for 10 seconds in both adapters, and you're done.
Each of these adapters has three LED lights on its front side: power, powerline connection, and the LAN port. The most important here is, of course, the powerline LED light.
It'll show three lights depending on the status of the powerline connection. Green means excellent, while ember and red color are for medium and low connections respectively.
Specs wise, these adapters come with the latest Powerline AV2 standard which promises to give a top speed of 2000 Mbps but you're never getting that much speed.
In our testing, we got more than 400 Mbps speed in close-range testing - in optimal conditions. For old homes with messy, this figure will be difficult to achieve.
That being said, even 300 Mbps speed is sufficient for most home users and will get along with the heavy-duty networking tasks. In fact, we plugged it with our gaming consoles and got a very stable and low ping.
Except for a bulky design, I didn't find any flaw in Extollo LANSocket and even then, it makes up for it by featuring a power socket pass-through. So, it's not surprising to see this being the best powerline adapter for gaming.
TP-Link 8630 V2 - Check Price On Amazon
Best Powerline Adapter 2019 / 2020 For Value
WPA8630 V2 by TP-Link is the best all-round powerline adapter we found in our testing.
The first difference you'll notice in this kit is that while this one also consists of two adapters, they aren't interchangeable.
One of them is the for the router side and will connect to your router, while the other one is the remote adapter and will be placed in an area where you want powerline connection.
Both of these units are bulky, to be honest, and may prevent you from using the nearby power outlet. The fact that both of them don't feature the pass-through power outlet found in many other powerline kits doesn't help either.
On the bright side, this kit comes with two good-quality six-foot long Ethernet cables.
Like others, each of these adapters has different LED lights for powerline connection, Ethernet connection, and power, in addition to a couple of buttons on the right side. Powerline LED is the most important of them all and will display green in case of good connection, and red if it's poor.
If there's no connection established anyhow, this LED will be off.
There are 3 Ethernet ports on the remote adapter so you won't necessarily have to invest in an Ethernet switch.
Apart from this, the remote adapter also features LEDs for 2.4 and 5 GHz connections. Yes, this powerline adapter kit has a built-in WiFi extender to boost your WiFi network.
These LEDs will be either on, off, or blinking. On means that everything's good, off means that you've disabled those WiFi Bands while blinking means that your current WiFi network settings are currently being copied.
One thing I didn't like here is that there's no dedicated LED to show whether your connection is encrypted or not. When you're pairing these adapters, power LED blinks for a few seconds, but then remains the same as it was before the pairing with no changing in color/intensity.
The main area where this kit has a competitive advantage over most of the other adapters is the management interface. It comes with a management-utility, along with a web interface, which helps you to do many things such as renaming adapters, adding new adapters, configuring WiFi, and updating firmware etc.
Overall, this interface is pretty good and helps you in getting the most of this kit.
In terms of performance, this kit performed good for both wifi and powerline connection - without being ground of any sort. Actually, its sibling TL-PA9020P performed better but since it only offered powerline connection, we opted for WPA8630.
All in all, this is the best bang for buck powerline kit you can have - as of now.