Before mesh Wi-Fi was the trend, we had Powerline adaptors and Wi-Fi extenders. I would personally always suggest mesh of a Wi-Fi extender nowadays, but I am still a fan of the Powerline concept.
Anyone wanting to establish a high speed and relatively reliable connection between router and PC, or other wired networking device, could possibly benefit more from Powerline than mesh, or at least save some money.
Powerline uses your home electrical wiring for connectivity, acting as a sort of mid-way point between Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Like Wi-Fi, there are all sorts of caveats for its performance, and the numbers that brands advertise are extremely misleading. The quality of your home wiring, the distance between adaptors and what other electronics are plugged in can all affect speeds.
I would warn that there is no guarantee that Powerline will outperform Wi-Fi or vice versa. Tri-band Wi-Fi mesh systems alleviate many of the issues Wi-Fi extenders had, establishing a dedicated wireless backhaul. These systems will often outperform many powerline adaptors working in less-than-ideal scenarios.
I’d advise buying for a decent online store that has a favourable return policy so you can return if the performance does not meet your expectation. Though, this applies to most things.
There are a few different options with Powerline:
- Basic adaptors that create a wired link between each other – these are good if you need to wire up something physically like a PC or even a wireless extender you already have.
- Powerline with Wi-Fi extenders – the same as the above, but the output adaptor also provides Wi-Fi in the old-fashioned extender way with a different SSID
- Mesh Wi-Fi powerline adaptors – the most expensive solution. These use the powerline connectivity as the backhaul between each satellite. Unlike the extenders, your network will have a single SSID allowing you to roam around the house without switching networks.
Devolo is the brand most famed for Powerline, and they claim to offer the best performing products thanks to the G.hn technology they use vs HomePlug AV. TP-Link is the main competitor with numerous options on the market, and Netgear has just one option.
Basic Powerline Adaptors
Devolo Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit – Closest thing you will get to running Cat5a/6 Ethernet
- Powerline from the market leader: The fastest...
- High-speed internet: The transmission rate of 2400...
- Seamless internet: With its fast transmission...
- Latest G.hn generation, not backward compatible....
This is advertised as the fastest LAN kit on the market. It is not unreasonably expensive, if you are looking to create a physical connection between two rooms spending £85 on this is a lot less hassle than trying to route CAT6 cable around your home. I feel like they have cheaped out on a single gigabit output port, but gigabit switches are cheap enough.
TP-Link TL-PA9020PKIT – Alternative to the Devolo Magic 2 with more gigabit ports
- Standards and protocols : homePlug AV2, HomePlug...
- 2X2 MIMO with Beamforming establishes multiple...
- 2 gigabit ports create secure wired Networks for...
- Plug and play, no configuration required....
Costing more than the Devolo Magic 2 with a lower theoretical speed, this option is less appealing. There are two-gigabit ethernet ports per plug which is the main advantage. With Internet price fluctuations, this is worth keeping an eye on.
TP-Link TL-PA7027P or TL-PA8010PKIT Powerline Starter Kit – Affordable Powerline options
|TP-Link TL-PA7027P KIT AV1000 2-Port Gigabit Passthrough...||£59.99||Buy on Amazon|
|TP-Link TL-PA8010PKIT V3 1-Port Gigabit Passthrough...||£58.99||Buy on Amazon|
Technically, all the TP-Link options are good, you can just pick one based on your budget and requirements. I pick this one because it is almost half the price of the Devolo while offering a decent rating of AV1000 which will translate to be much lower than gigabit.
The TL-PA8010PKIT for around £57 bumps up the theoretical speed to 1300 Mbps or a fiver more they have a model with 3-gigabit ports on the output adaptor. I’d argue that at £60-ish, you may be better off forking out the extra for the Devolo, which is classed as the fastest on the market and will offer the closest to gigabit Ethernet speeds as possible.
Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API