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Best Powerline Adapters 2016 Round-Up


Fed up with flaky Wi-Fi? Can’t conceive of cabling up your whole house? Then Powerline is the technology for you, and we’ve picked out six of the best powerline adapters worth considering for your home.

What are Powerline Adapters?

Powerline (also known as HomePlug) is a networking technology that uses your home’s existing power cables to distribute the network throughout your home.

As the diagram below shows, you just plug a network cable from your router into one Powerline adapter then plug that adapter into a conventional plug socket.

Then go to the room where you’d like to receive the signal and plug in a second adapter. From there you can connect directly to your computer or plug in other conventional network devices like routers, switches and hubs.

Video: How to improve your home's Wi-Fi

This Week's Best Powerline Adapters Deals

Devolo dLAN 650 triple Plus at Amazon.co.uk | Was £110 | Now £94

BT Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £119 | Now £59.99

PowerlineWhy buy a Powerline Adapter?

The technology has a far greater range than most Wi-Fi connections – particularly in large brick built houses where the wireless signal is severely hampered – and is generally more reliable too.

Although early versions were quite slow, the latest versions offer theoretical throughput speeds of over 500MBps. For the gamers out there, Powerline also tends to have a much lower ping/latency than Wi-Fi, making it the smarter option.

Multiple adapters (safest bet is to stick with the same brand) can also be added to the same network, allowing each room of the house to have its own reliable wired network connection.

As well as simple one-to-one adapters you can get ones that feature several Ethernet network sockets for plugging in multiple devices and ones that have integrated Wi-Fi for extending the range of your wireless internet connection.

Best Powerline Adapters: What do I need to know?

It’s worth looking out for powerline adapters that feature pass-through plug sockets. These allow you to plug in other devices so you don’t use up a plug socket with the adapter – great for households with limited plug sockets.

This is a particularly important consideration as the quality of the Powerline signal is much poorer when plugged into extensions – throughput can drop by 75%! With a pass-through adapter the signal is unaffected, no matter how many extensions you plug into it.

Also know that that Powerline can’t work across different ring mains so if your house uses multiple – for instance the kitchen is often on its own circuit – then you’ll have to use two circuits.

As well as basic network extension functions, some Powerline adapters offer some extra features such as network printer support, USB NAS functionality and even the ability to stream music to USB audio devices.

HomePlug AV vs AV2: How fast are Powerline Adapters?

Current Powerline solutions are generally either HomePlug AV or HomePlug AV2 compliant. The former will be branded as either AV200 (200Mbps) or AV500 (500Mbps) while the latter will be labelled as AV600 (600Mbps) or some variation thereon, such as AV650%2B. Remember we're talking Megabits per second (Mbps) not the Megabytes (MB/s) that most people are familiar with.

While those numbers may sound impressive, real world throughput is much lower with AV200 models typically producing a maximum of ~75Mbps (~9MB/s real world file transfer speeds), AV500 will go up to ~100Mbps (~12MB/s) and the latest AV600%2B kits will push around ~120Mbps (~14MB/s).

In comparison, 100Mbps Ethernet will go at about 12MB/s and gigabit Ethernet can hit 100MB/s. As for Wi-Fi, the best routers with multi-antennas can hit 75MB/s in ideal conditions, but your typical connection will deliver below 10MB/s throughout an average two-story household.

Best Powerline Adapters: How We Test

We’ve picked out six varied pairs of Powerline adapters that demonstrate some of the best powerline adapters available for different needs. We tested each by connecting one adapter to a router in the front living room and the other to a laptop in an upstairs back bedroom. Over our normal 802.11n Wi-Fi connection across this same distance we achieved a transfer rate of 3.29MB/s.

Prem Desai

June 11, 2014, 2:47 pm

Nice one TR. Very useful article.

Wish you could do one on wireless range extenders too......


June 13, 2014, 11:38 am

I have these. They are an excelent product. I also have the Home Hub 5. Sitting at the bottom of the garden stretched the range of my Home Hub (at the front of my house) slightly too far, however, I plug the WI FI extender in to the Kitchen, and I have super fast wireless at the far end of my garden. Fantastic.


June 16, 2014, 11:56 am

Glad you enjoyed. I shall stick one on the list!


June 25, 2014, 11:31 am

Does anyone know if the powerline adapters advertised as wifi extenders require an existing wireless router to be present on the network or whether they can be used to replace one?
My current setup is with a Sky router running as a modem, with a separate router performing the wireless duties. The reasons for this are so I can pick and choose the wireless kit myself, and I don't have to change the wireless settings every time I change provider. Ideally I'd like to just have the 'modem' plugged into a powerline adapter with wifi capability and get rid of the separate wireless router, but I don't know if this is possible.


September 3, 2014, 1:16 pm

Yes, you can do this. Most of these Wi-Fi adapters create their own network rather than piggybacking off an existing one.


September 17, 2014, 10:16 pm

Thanks, this was very informative and just saved me from having to crawl under my house to run cable to my office. Sweet!

Ade Keys

September 25, 2014, 4:31 pm

no. 4 netgear powerline XAVB5201 for £30 doesn't have wifi - the wifi version is XWNB5201 and costs nearer £70

arol nosneb

January 3, 2015, 5:58 pm

I have an office out in the garage. I am on the same electric circuit as the rest of the house but my wireless drops out. I have tried many things but have become disillusioned. Will a powerline adaptor do the trick? The broadband is not fast in this area - we are not considered worthy of such fripperies as fibre optics - so this means that we cannot afford to slow down at all


January 6, 2015, 7:03 pm

If you are on the same circuit a powerline adapter should work a treat. You can get adapters that are a wi-fi hotspot too so you can have wi-fi coverage in the garage. I use several in my house to have total coverage and also connect my desktop PC (upstairs) via cable to get the best speeds for online gaming.

Marie Sternquist

January 18, 2015, 6:51 pm

I have a rather large house with an over-garage mother-in-law apartment. Of course the only cable/internet comes in at the farthest point from the apartment on the second floor of the main house. Using a Netgear N750 WNDR4300 router, I get pretty good wifi through the main house but important dead spots in the apartment. Thinking a set of powerline adaptors... please recommend and also know that the apartment is on it's own utilities--in other words, it is not only on it's own circuit but a completely different utility box more like extending to a second cabin. Will any of the powerline adapter sets be able to connect these two different areas? And if not, within the main house can I just plug a wifi-capable powerline adapter into a wall socket nearest that space and it will broadcast? Pretty sure these won't be on the exact same electrical circuit as most of the house is split up into about 16 different circuits in the box. Please elaborate on this point and thank you for the helpful article.

Gavin Major

March 9, 2015, 10:41 pm

I am thinking of getting the bt power line adapter, but I want to make sure it will work for my play station using the Ethernet connection and the wireless connection for my iPhone and iPad.
My router is by the front door on the ground floor, my play station is situated in the loft, on the second floor. Obviously the electrics in the loft we're done as an extension, but everything runs to the main fuse board, does this mean I am one circuit or is it possible the loft will be ona different circuit to downstairs and So therefore not work?
If this type doesn't work, is there another type of extender I can use?


July 2, 2015, 3:00 pm

I've read most houses have one ring main per floor, so this isn't going to be that useful for many houses is it? How can you check whether one socket will be on the same circuit as another?


July 9, 2015, 3:07 pm

Hi Paul
Where do you live? In the UK most houses run through a central panel. I've used powerline extenders in a number of houses with the router downstairs and the extender upstairs with few problems.


November 10, 2015, 2:08 am

hey dude, i'm in a similar situation, did it work for you in the end?


May 8, 2016, 9:54 pm

so I live in canada and want so use one from my main floor to my basement, Im wondering same thing.

Arne Delve

January 6, 2017, 10:13 am

There is a lot of misinformation about regarding the issue of the operation of powerline adapters on different "CIRCUITS". The author of the above article is helping to spread the confusion even further. Let me try to clarify. The power generated by the national grid is distributed in 'three phases', and these are the three circuits that powerline manufacturers refer to. On a housing estate with three hundred houses, one hundred houses will be connected to each of the three phases (circuits). Domestic property is connected to one phase only (commercial buildings like factories and Tesco will use all three of the phases) It does not matter how many power circuits come out of your distibution box, your powerline adapters can be plugged into each and every one and it does not matter one iota which circuit you use, they will all work perfectly well. The same does NOT apply to commercial premises; only the powerlines that are connected to the same phase (circuit) will be able to communicate with each other. Hope that this clarifies as to what constitutes a circuit as far as powerlines are concerned

Dan Woods

April 21, 2017, 8:45 am

I live in a 1st floor flat in Amsterdam; each flat here has a separate consumer board (fuse box / distribution board) and meter. There's a further board and meter for lighting in the communal areas - the stairs mostly, but also the 4th floor where each flat has some storage space.

Up in the storage space is my office where I use a Devolo Homeplug to connect to the internet in my flat. And it works OK despite being separated from my home router by a different meter and consumer board, being a different "circuit" and being three floors up.

Arne Delve is correct about separation of phases, this is the only circumstance in which you won't be able to connect two Homeplugs, and that's only going to affect big commercial buildings.

In case my success worries you about security (it should!) then the Homeplug-standard encryption protocols are pretty safe. Use a password to protect your shared folders and an additional VPN if you're worried about your traffic getting snooped. I'm not particularly worried personally.

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