BEST POWERLINE ADAPTERS | NOVEMBER 2017
These days, nearly every home is equipped with a wireless network. But sometimes Wi-Fi isn’t enough to get all of your devices working the way you want them to. For large homes, buildings with thick walls, or old houses with cable connections located in inconvenient places, powerline technology might be a better choice. Powerline adapters send data from your router or broadband cable to any device using the electrical wiring in your home. Considering all the most important features a good powerline adapter should possess, including speed, reliability, device compatibility, security, and more, we have curated the ultimate list of the best powerline adapters for all your online needs. Read more about our methodology.
The TP-Link AV2000 is a fast, versatile, and reliable powerline adapter. Featuring the most innovative HomePlug technology and MIMO beamforming, it is as easy to set up as it is attractive, making it an easy choice for our top spot.Read full review.
Some people prefer G.hn over HomePlug technology, and the Comtrend Powerline Adapter is one of the best examples around. Delivering a fast, reliable connection, and compatible with nearly any device, this adapter is great for large homes or apartments with thick walls, making it greater runner-up for our top spot.Read full review.
This compact device packs a punch, at a very affordable price. Fast enough for streaming HD video and online gaming, you won't find many high-end adapter kits at this price point. Just plug it in and enjoy.Read full review.
Powerline Adapters BUYING GUIDE
Powerline adapters generally come in five potential speeds: 200Mbps, 500Mbps, 600Mbps, 1200Mbps, and 2000Mbps. Obviously, the higher the number, the faster it is. But keep in mind, these speed claims are hugely inflated. The number refers to potential speeds, not actual transfer rates. If you plan to use your adapter for gaming or streaming a lot of video, aim high. If you only plan to use it for browsing the web, 200Mbps should be fine.
Not all powerline adapters feature Wi-Fi compatibility. If you only plan to use your adapter for a single purpose, such as connecting a TV that is not Wi-Fi capable to your home network, you probably don't need to extend your wireless reach. But if you plan on extending your Wi-Fi signal throughout your house, make sure you choose a compatible device.
Powerline adapters often come in pairs, but you can add as many as you like to your home network. Keep in mind, however, that certain adapters are not necessarily compatible simply because they are made by the same brand. Rather, it has everything to do with the type of chip it contains.
There are essentially two kinds of powerline technologies, HomePlug and G.hn. HomePlug is the original and most popular chip included in most adapters. The most current version is AV2, which is backward compatible with all HomePlug devices. G.hn is a competing technology, which not only forms home networks, it also supports telephone wires and coaxial cables. If purchasing additional adapters, make sure the chips are compatible.
Some powerline adapters feature an additional electrical socket, so you don’t lose access to the one you plug your device into. They take up a little more space but are well worth the added convenience. Also, do keep in mind, powerline adapters should NEVER be plugged into power bars with surge protectors, as they will not operate properly, if at all.
The amazing thing about powerline signals is that they are automatically scrambled by local transformers, so if you own your own house and pay your own power bill, you don’t have to worry about encryption. If you live in an apartment building, however, make sure to purchase an adapter that includes data encryption to keep your information safe.
Powerline adapters are not particularly expensive but there is a pretty wide range, depending on the features you prefer. While adapters often come in pairs, you can purchase them individually, which will obviously lower the overall cost. Other added features such as Wi-Fi compatibility, MIMO beamforming technology, pass-through sockets, and automatic encryption will increase the price. A single device without all the bells and whistles will only cost you about $20, while a kit that includes everything listed above can cost as much as $120.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Comtrend Powerline Adapter is a fast, reliable, and versatile device. Featuring G.hn technology, as well as AV Powerline compatibility, it is adaptable to any home network or wireless device. Perfect for high-density environments, the Comtrend Adapter sails through thick walls and automatically corrects forwarding errors to ensure a seamless video streaming experience.
Why We Recommend It
- Better real-world performance. The Comtrend Powerline Adapter features G.hn technology, which many users believe is a faster and more reliable connection.
- Great for streaming video. The Comtrend Adapter features LDPC/FEC technology, which corrects forwarding errors when streaming video.
- Perfect for high-density environments. The most commonly discussed benefit of this adapter is its reach, featuring a signal built for penetrating concrete, steal, and other high-density materials.
- Extremely versatile. This adapter features the internationally recognized powerline standard (ITU-T) for unparalleled compatibility.
- Not a hotspot. The Comtrend Powerline Adapter is not Wi-Fi compatible and will only extend Wi-Fi service to a single device.
- No pass-through socket. You’ll need a little extra outlet space, as this does not allow you to plug an additional device into the same socket.
The ZyXel PLA4231 delivers data at 500Mbps, making it perfect for streaming HD video without any lag. It’s super easy to set up, works great as a Wi-Fi extender, and features optional encryption at the touch of a button.
Why We Recommend It
- Fast and reliable. The ZyXel PLA4231 transfers data at a rate of 500Mbps, making it more than sufficient for your online browsing needs.
- Works as a wifi extender. Not all adapters act as hotspots, but this compact device works great for extending you wireless network throughout your home.
- Easy set up. The ZyXel PLA4231 is a ‘plug and play’ device, so the only set up it requires is a couple power outlets and the devices you to connect.
- Safe and secure. Users who are concerned about privacy love the “Encrypt” button, which allows you to easily create a secure connection between devices.
- Does not come in a pair. Although you can purchase multiple devices, the Zyxel only comes as a single unit.
- No pass-through socket. This adapter does not let you share the same outlet with another device.
BEST BY CATEGORY
Best Powerline Adapter with Wi-Fi
Powerline adapters with Wi-Fi can act as a wireless hotspot for your home. If you live in a large house, or an apartment building with thick walls, you might consider an adapter that will extend your wireless reach. Simply plug one adapter into a router, and the other into a power outlet near the devices you want to connect.
Best Powerline Adapter for Gaming
Online gaming often happens in parts of the house where there may not be easy access to a wireless connection. If you have roommates or family members that tend to take over the common area, you might have to sneak away to a bedroom or a basement to play in peace. Powerline adapters work through electrical wires, so they don’t lose as much data with distance and can connect your console to your router, no matter where it is.
Online gaming is serious business, and the Extollo LANSocket 1500 isn’t messing around. Offering a crazy fast connection at 2 Gbps, 64MB of additional memory, and two-way beamforming technology, this adapter delivers data with a very low ping rate and zero lag.
Why We Recommend It
- Super fast and reliable. 2 Gbps PHY and an added 512 Mbit (64MB) of DDR memory, this device is perfect for streaming video and multiplayer online gaming.
- Wide network range. Featuring MIMO beamforming technology, the Extollo Powerline has a further range than most devices, as well as a low ping rate.
- Innovative and practical. This device includes a pass-through socket, as well as protection against electrical noise from attached devices.
- No configuration required. Just plug this adapter into the nearest outlet and enjoy.
- Slightly less secure. Running on an embedded Linux distro, the Extollo Powerline Adapter performs very well but opens itself up to potential security risks.
- Does not work as a Wi-Fi extender. This adapter does not support wireless technology and cannot act as a hotspot.
Best Powerline Adapter for Cable TV
Not everybody has a smart TV. Some Powerline adapters are made specifically for coaxial wires so you can turn your standard cable television into a video streaming machine. Whether it is in your bedroom or the backyard, all you need is a cable subscription and a couple of power outlets.
The Actiontec ECB2500C is perfect for connecting your cable TV to any cable network. Featuring both ethernet and coaxial cable ports, and a strong reliable signal at 270Mbps, it is super easy to set up and is backed by a warranty and 24/7 support.
Why We Recommend It
- Strong, reliable connection. With a speed of 270Mbps, this device delivers a smooth video streaming experience without any lag.
- Easy to set up. Like most standard powerline adapters, the Actiontec is “plug and play” ready for ultimate convenience.
- Safe and secure. Many users pointed out the additional security of this device, which is automatically encrypted and allows you to set up a password for restricted access.
- Additional support. Actiontec products are backed by a full warranty and 24/7 support.
- Requires an additional adapter to operate. The Actiontec comes as a single device and requires a second to connect your internet to your cable TV.
Best HomePlug Powerline Adapter
HomePlug powerline adapters are considered the industry standard. HomePlug refers specifically to the technology itself but is commonly associated with the chip inside the device. The most important consideration when choosing which type of chip to purchase is ensuring that all devices contain the same one. Otherwise, they will not be compatible.