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The 5 Best Powerline Network Adapters of 2021

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The RundownBest Overall:Netgear PL1200 at Amazon"More than ready to handle 4K and HD streaming, and lag-free gaming."Best Budget:TP-Link TL-PA4010 at Amazon"This affordable Powerline adapter is also ultra-compact to blend right into your home."Best Compact:Trendnet TPL-422E2K at Amazon"Tiny enough to tuck away anywhere while still delivering some of the fastest AV2 Powerline speeds available."Best Wi-Fi Extender:Netgear PLW1000 at Best Buy"An affordable and easy way to get Wi-Fi coverage into a far corner of your home."Best for Basics:Netgear PL1000 at Best Buy"With speeds up to 1Gbps, the Powerline 1000 boasts enough horsepower to deliver expansive coverage and fast performance."in this articleExpandOur PicksAbout Our Trusted ExpertsFAQsThe Ultimate Powerline Network Adapter Buying Guide

Powerline network adapters are a special class of device that lets you extend your network throughout your home without the need to run Ethernet cables or rely on Wi-Fi. Instead, the best Powerline adapters pass a network signal through the electrical wiring that's already in your walls, allowing you to get internet service into the farthest areas of your home, hassle-free. These handy little devices are great for anybody who needs to connect wired devices like game consoles or smart TVs in other rooms, or even just to extend Wi-Fi into a distant corner of your home where even the best Wi-Fi extenders can't reach.

Best Overall:Netgear Powerline PL1200

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Easy setup

Good speeds

What We Don't Like

Poor socket placement

Obtrusive design

Netgear Powerline 1200 Review

Capable of offering speeds of up to 1.2Gbps, our testing showed that the Netgear PL1200 is more than ready to handle 4K streaming and lag-free gaming. You can even connect multiple adapters to expand the reach of your network throughout your home.

The 6.54x7.28x3.23 inch PL1200 sets up with a plug-and-play approach. Just connect the first adapter to the router via Ethernet cable and the second adapter into an outlet near the device you want to link up. Once both connections are set, the PL1200 does the rest while offering a one-touch button for encrypting the network to protect against intrusion. Like competitive models in this space, the Netgear adds an energy-friendly mode that powers down after a set time of inactivity, which helps minimize the impact on your energy bill.

"With an upper limit of 1.2Gbps in download, the sky really is the limit with this adapter, and it can even be applied in a small business setting where the network is already very strong."— Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Best Budget:TP-Link TL-PA4010 AV600 Powerline Starter Kit

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Stylish and compact design

Power-saving mode

Easy configuration

What We Don't Like

Slower AV600 speeds

No passthrough plug

If you're looking for the most affordable way to extend your network connection into another room, TP-Link's TL-PA4010 is hard to beat, and it comes in one of the most compact designs we've seen too, with a front surface area that's smaller than a credit card and a thickness of under 3cm, so it will blend discretely into your home decor. 

While the TL-PA4010's 600Mbps performance won't break any speed records, it's more than enough to let you stream Netflix in 4K to multiple devices on the other end, and you still get the same 300-meter range that other HomePlug AV2 Powerline adapters offer.

The TL-PA4010 is also really easy to set up, requiring nothing more than the push of a button to pair up both devices with a secure encrypted connection, and you can add additional HomePlug AV or AV2 compatible adapters to expand your Powerline network even further around your home. Best of all, TP-Link's patented power-saving mode means that these will be gentle on your electrical bill, automatically reducing the power consumption by up to 85 percent when it's not actively being used. 

Best Compact:Trendnet Powerline 1300 AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-422E2K)

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on EBayWhat We Like

Compact size

Good range

Strong 1300Mbps performance

What We Don't Like

No passthrough power plug

If getting the smallest Powerline adapter possible is a priority, then Trendnet's TPL-422E2K is the clear winner, offering blazing fast HomePlug AV2 speeds of up to 1,300Mbps in a package that's compact and discrete enough to plug in anywhere in your home.

In addition, the TPL-422E2K offers enhanced Powerline performance thanks to MIMO and Beamforming technology that uses all available wires to improve the signal that runs through your electrical circuits to offer a range of up to 1,000 feet in homes with reasonably modern wiring. These latest units are also still backward compatible with older Powerline standards, so you can mix-and-match them with other Powerline adapters in your home.

The pair of adapters comes ready to auto-connect right out of the box, with an included sync button that allows you to easily change the encryption keys as often as you like for added security. A Gigabit Ethernet port on each end also ensures that you can take full advantage of the speeds offered by the TPL-422E2K for streaming, video calling, and gaming, with more than enough bandwidth to wire up a whole roomful of devices, provided you supply your own network hub. 

Best Wi-Fi Extender:Netgear PowerLINE 1000 + WiFi (PLW1000)

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1000Mbps Powerline speeds

Easy to set up

Gigabit Ethernet port

What We Don't Like

No passthrough power plug

Although you can add a wireless access point to just about any Powerline extender, if you're primarily looking to expand Wi-Fi coverage in your home then Netgear's PLW1000 is worth a look as it offers a built-in Wi-Fi extender, saving you the expense and hassle of purchasing and managing a separate device.

With dual-band Wi-Fi supporting the latest mainstream 802.11ac standard, the PLW1000 can give you a whole new bubble of strong wireless coverage, and since it uses Powerline technology, it can bring Wi-Fi to distant areas of your home that even the best Wi-Fi extenders simply can't reach. This makes it a great solution for getting reliable wireless coverage out into places like your backyard or the upper floors in your home, and you can even add additional Wi-Fi adapters—up to 16 in total—for whole home coverage. 

Support for the HomePlug AV2 standard means the PLW1000 can offer speeds of up to 1000Mbps back to your main router—more than enough for a roomful of devices to stream Netflix in 4K, make reliable group video calls, and even enjoy the latest fast-paced games, and an included Gigabit Ethernet port lets you hardwire in any devices that either don't have built-in wireless or simply need maximum performance. It's also a cinch to set up thanks to one-touch Powerline encryption and “pick-a-plug” LEDs that will let you know where you're getting the best possible performance from your home wiring.

The 9 Best Wi-Fi Extenders of 2021

Best for Basics:Netgear Powerline PL1000

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Inexpensive way to expand network coverage

Easy to set up

What We Don't Like

Speeds could be higher

If you want to extend your wired network, the Netgear Powerline PL1010 is an excellent budget choice. Using the existing electrical wiring in your home, you can deliver an Ethernet connection to nearly any area that needs one. In a day and age when so many devices require fast internet to properly function, this inexpensive solution can be a lifesaver. With speeds up to 1Gbps, the PL1010 boasts enough horsepower to deliver long range and fast performance.

Easy to set up, there's no reason you shouldn't be ready to go with the PL1010 in a few moments. The included adapter plugs directly into your modem or router. The Powerline adapter is then plugged into any outlet where you need an extra Ethernet jack for a game console or wireless access point, and since it uses your household wiring, unlike a Wi-Fi extender you can set it up anywhere in a home regardless of obstructions like walls and doors.

What makes Netgear's budget-friendly products so great? Simplicity. This is a plug and play device that has almost zero barrier to entry. Performance is ideal for 4K streaming or multiplayer gaming online. 

Final Verdict

Netgear's PL1200 is a small and unobtrusive adapter that offers great performance at a reasonable price, however if you're looking to add Wi-Fi to the mix, then TP-Link's TL-WPA8630 will save you the trouble of buying a separate Wi-Fi access point on the other end.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Jordan Oloman is a proud Geordie from Newcastle in the United Kingdom and is passionate about adventure games, pirate archaeology, and how technology can improve your productivity. He has written for Tech Radar, PC Gamer, Kotaku, Eurogamer, IGN, GamesRadar, and RockPaperShotgun, among many other gaming and tech publications. 

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports. 

is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair that has taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. He specializes in VPNs, antivirus, and home electronics, and manages his own automotive blog on the side.

FAQs

Is a Powerline adapter better than Wi-Fi?Powerline adapters have some advantages over Wi-Fi, since the signal travels through your home wiring and therefore isn't normally subjected to the same kind of interference or range issues as Wi-Fi signals. This means that you can get top performance at much longer distances, extending your network to areas that even Wi-Fi extenders often can't reach by themselves. The biggest downside to Powerline technology, however, is that performance can vary greatly depending on how your home is wired, which may give Wi-Fi extenders and long-range routers the advantage—especially in older homes. 

Do Powerline network adapters need to be on the same circuit?Ideally, your Powerline network adapters should always be on the same circuit—meaning that they're connected to two outlets that share the same fuse or circuit-breaker. Depending on how your electrical panel is wired, it may be possible to connect Powerline adapters on different circuits and have them successfully pair up, but this can be hit-and-miss and you almost certainly won't get the maximum performance. Powerline adapters definitely can't be used between different homes, however, as the signal does not reliably travel beyond your home wiring. 

How far does a Powerline adapter reach?Under optimal conditions, a HomePlug AV2 Powerline adapter can offer ranges of up to 984 feet, but it's important to remember that this is not a straight-line measurement, but rather the distance that the signal travels along your home's wiring, which can be a fairly circuitous route. Further, both Powerline adapters must also be connected to the same electrical circuit for maximum performance, which can reduce the effective range since it's very rare for rooms on opposite ends of a home to share the same wiring. 

What to Look For in a Powerline Network Adapter

In an era of Wi-Fi routers, Powerline network adapters are a category of networking accessories that often go under appreciated, since most people don't give much thought anymore to plugging in wired devices, but they can actually be an extremely useful—and affordable—way to get internet access to distant corners of your home.

Whether it's a matter of wiring up a game console or home entertainment system that's far from your router, or simply getting a bubble of Wi-Fi into an area where your router can't quite reach, a powerline network adapter can be an ideal solution, since it uses the electrical wiring that's already in your walls to extend your network without the need to worry about issues like interference and range.

Ach5 / Jordan Oloman

Why Buy a Powerline Network Adapter

While powerline network adapters are great for what they do, they're not for everyone, and there are some important things to consider when deciding if getting one is the right solution for your needs. 

For example, if you're primarily interested in getting more Wi-Fi devices online, you may be better served by a long-range router or a mesh Wi-Fi system, both of which are designed expressly to push a Wi-Fi signal around a larger home, and some of the best of these can easily provide enough range to blanket a home of 5,000 square feet or more with solid and reliable Wi-Fi. 

Still, there are times when even the best routers and mesh systems can't quite deliver the performance you need into every corner of your home. Walls, ceilings, floors, and even appliances can interfere with getting a reliable wireless signal around your house, and this can be even more problematic depending on the construction of your home. 

Powerline network adapters are a more reliable way to get network coverage into remote parts of your home, and they're also a much more cost-effective way to go if you're on a budget. This is especially true if it's simply a matter of getting a network connection extended into a room on the other end of your house or to another floor in your home to hook up one or two wired devices, such as a game console or home entertainment system that don't really need a Wi-Fi connection anyway. 

How Powerline Adapters Work

Powerline adapters normally come in pairs, and are used to extend a wired connection from one place in your home to another using the existing electrical wiring that's already in your home. Each powerline adapter usually includes at least one Ethernet port, allowing you to create a connection between any two points with electrical outlets just as if you were running a physical Ethernet cable. 

So to extend internet to another portion of your home using powerline network adapters, you plug one unit into an electrical outlet near your router and connect it to your router it with an Ethernet networking cable, and then plug the other unit into a remote section of your home. Once the two powerline adapters have linked up with each other, which usually happens automatically a few seconds after you plug them in, you can use the Ethernet jack on the remote unit to plug a device in just as if you were plugging it directly into your router. 

Speed and Performance

Early adapters that used powerline technology weren't known for being particularly fast, but don't let some of those bad stories dissuade you—the technology has evolved in leaps and bounds in the past few years, and today most powerline adapters provide a minimum of 1Gbps of throughput, and it's not uncommon to find 2Gbps adapters on the market now as well.

Just keep in mind that, like Wi-Fi router specs, these are theoretical maximum speeds, and your mileage can actually vary quite a bit depending on the quality of your home wiring. Our recommendation in this case is to buy a bit more than you need, so if you think you're actually going to need to push 1Gbps through a powerline adapter, then pick up a pair of 1.5Gbps or 2Gbps units.

Number of Devices

Powerline adapters normally work on a “point-to-point” basis, meaning that you set up one at your router and another located where you want to plug in client devices. This means that if you're looking to hook up more than one device on the other end, they'll all be sharing the same powerline connection, so keep the in mind when you're looking at the throughput of a powerline adapter.

In other words, if you install a pair of 1Gbps powerline adapters, and then plug in a dozen devices, then they'll all be sharing that single 1Gbps pipe. This may not be a big deal since you probably won't be using them all at the same time, but it's an important factor to keep in mind if you're looking to support a whole other section your home where multiple family members may be connecting, especially if you're also going to use it to create a new bubble of Wi-Fi access. 

Keep in mind as well that many powerline network adapters only provide a single Ethernet port, so if you plan to hook up more than one wired device, you'll need to look for one with multiple ports, or add your own network hub.

Ach5 / Jordan Oloman

Wi-Fi Support

Although some powerline adapters do offer built-in Wi-Fi support, that's a bonus feature and not inherently part of what powerline technology is designed to do—the primary objective is simply to deliver a wired connection on the other end. So if you want to extend your Wi-Fi network as well, you'll need to look for a powerline adapter that specifically includes integrated Wi-Fi or add your own wireless access point.

Note that just about any Wi-Fi router can also act as a wireless access point, and you don't need to spend a lot of money on getting one with a lot of features, since you'll only be using it to allow Wi-Fi devices to get onto your network, so an inexpensive budget router will easily do the job.

In fact, while it's slightly more complicated to setup than simply buying a mesh Wi-Fi system or a long-range router, you can get a powerline adapter and an inexpensive wireless access point for a fraction of the price of a mesh Wi-Fi system, so it's a good option if you're looking to save some money.

Powerline Standards

There are actually a few different powerline standards out there, with the most popular modern standard being HomePlug AV2, which offers the fastest performance—speeds in excess of 1Gbps. There's also HomePlug AV with speeds of 200Mbps or 500Mbps (sometimes marketed as AV500), and the earlier HomePlug 1.0 and HomePlug 1.0 Turbo devices that provide 14Mbps and 85Mbps, respectively. 

There's also another competing standard, known as G.hn, that's a little bit less common, but was made popular among some vendors as it was the first to offer the kind of higher speeds and lower latency that some users—especially gamers—demand. 

In fact, G.hn is arguably still a better standard in many ways, as it provides some of the fastest throughput of any powerline adapters we've seen. Unfortunately, however, the lack of wide support means that if you invest in G.hn powerline adapters your ability to expand your powerline network in the future will be more limited. 

However, keep in mind that the performance of powerline adapters that use the modern HomePlug AV2 standard should be more than fast enough for most users, and as a rule HomePlug AV2 adapters are usually a bit easier to work with, making them our recommended choice for those who prefer a “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of setup. 

Expandability

While powerline adapters normally come in pairs, it's possible to add additional units if you want to connect other areas of your home. Doing this normally only requires that you buy a compatible powerline adapter—one that supports the same standard as the ones you already have—and then just plug it in and go through a relatively straightforward pairing procedure.

Just remember that all of your powerline adapters will still be sharing the same overall network speed. So even if you have five 2Gbps HomePlug AV2 adapters around your home, you only get 2Gbps shared between all of them.

Also, while different speeds of HomePlug AV and AV2 adapters can be mixed and matched, your powerline network can only operate at the speed of the slowest adapter, so if you add a HomePlug AV500 adapter to a group that has a pair of 2Gbps HomePlug AV2 adapters, you'll be dragging everything down to 500Mbps speeds.

Lastly, HomePlug 1.0 adapters can coexist on the same power lines as HomePlug AV/AV2 adapters, but they can't actually talk to each other—they'll act as two separate networks. This also means that they won't interfere with each other, however, so if you already have older HomePlug 1.0 devices you don't need to rip them out if you're planning on adding a new pair of HomePlug AV2 units.

Ach5 / Andrew Hayward

Electrical Wiring

One of the biggest caveats to buying a powerline network adapter is the quality and layout of the electrical wiring in your home. While powerline adapters promise some amazing performance specs, you'll only see these under ideal conditions. 

In short, maximum throughput requires that your powerline network adapters be on the same electrical circuit. This means they both need to be plugged into outlets that are hooked up to the same circuit breaker at your electrical panel.

Of course, this may defeat the purpose of a powerline network adapter if you're looking to extend Wi-Fi to a distant corner of your home, since it's unlikely that these outlets will be on the same circuit. However, this doesn't rule out the ability to use a powerline adapter, or even to get acceptable performance from it, but it's going to be very dependent upon the wiring in your home and how its arranged at the panel, and you're definitely not going to get the maximum advertised throughput. 

For those with an understanding of how household wiring works, this has to do with which phases your circuits are on, as well as having a proper ground and a proper neutral that's common to all phases. However, if you don't understand any of that, don't worry about it, as there's likely nothing you can do about it anyway unless you spend a lot of money to hire an electrician. Our advice is that if you're not sure how well powerline adapters are going to work for you, just make sure that you buy them from somewhere that has a good return policy in case you find that they don't work as well in your home as you might hope. 

In all but the most extreme cases, however, you shouldn't have a problem getting your powerline adapters to communicate with each other, but you might not get the gigabit-plus performance that's listed on the box. Whether this will be a problem will depend largely on what you plan to use them for. Hooking up a TV or set-top box to stream Netflix, even in 4K, will be just fine with a 25Mbps connection, which even the most basic modern powerline adapters should be able to deliver, but you may not be able to get the kind of low-latency performance that's needed for serious online gaming. 

Security

Since powerline networks travel over your home wiring, technically speaking anybody in your neighbourhood could conceivably tap into your network. As a result, the powerline standards like HomePlug and G.hn all include built-in encryption to keep the data that's travelling across your wires secure.

Conceptually, this is the same as the encryption used on your Wi-Fi network, although it's even easier since your client devices don't need to know about it; with powerline adapters, the encryption is only between the adapters themselves. This is done using a Network Management Key, or NMK for short.

When you buy a pair of new powerline adapters in the same kit, they're normally shipped preconfigured with the same NMK, so that all you have to do is plug them in and you're ready to go. LEDs on the powerline adapters will light up once they're plugged in and securely linked together. Adding a third adapter can be a bit more complicated, as you'll have to go through a pairing process to link it up using the same NMK. 

This differs slightly between manufacturers, but with most HomePlug AV2 adapters, it's usually as simple as pressing a couple of buttons as you plug the new adapters in. On the other hand, older HomePlug AV adapters can be trickier as they usually require you to use a software utility or web interface to do this from your computer.

Top Brands

TP-Link

TP-Link has been in the powerline network adapter business for years, and much like its routers, the company offers a wide range of HomePlug AV and AV2 adapters to meet a variety of different needs, including one with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi extender, and another that offers some the fastest HomePlug AV2 performance you'll find. 

Netgear

Another household name in networking gear, Netgear's powerline adapters run the gamut from simple and affordable to ultra-high speed units with built-in Wi-Fi support, and are designed to be really easy to get up and running with a minimum of fuss.

Ach5 / Jordan Oloman 

Conclusion

While we can't argue the point that the most reliable way to get a network connection to another part of your home is to run your own Cat 6 Ethernet cables, the reality is that's not a viable option for most people, and a powerline network adapter is far more cost effective and definitely less labor-intensive. 

If you're simply looking for extended Wi-Fi coverage, we'd definitely suggest at least considering a long-range router or a mesh Wi-Fi system, as these are usually a bit less complicated to deal with, and unless you have a very expansive home and need very high-speed coverage at extreme ranges, they're generally worth the investment. However, a bigger and better router may be overkill if all you need to do is support a couple of wired devices in another room, and a powerline network adapter is generally a far more reliable way to go than a Wi-Fi range extender, and often more affordable too.