Setting up a wireless network should be simple. But Wi-Fi is susceptible to all sorts of issues, from interference from other devices to architectural limitations such as walls and ceilings. While you might think you're going to enjoy 50Mbps internet, the speed of your wireless network is slowing things down.
The answer is Ethernet. Capable of data speeds up to 1000Gbps, Ethernet is sadly impractical for most properties. After all, who has time to drill holes and route cables? This is where powerline adapters come into play.
Here's what you need to know about setting up powerline adapters.
Is a Powerline Adapter Faster Than Wi-Fi?
You'll find various advantages for using an Ethernet connection between your devices and your router via powerline adapters. Consider enhanced security, reliability, and fewer cables running around the place. Not to mention the improved reach of your network.
However, the key advantage of powerline adapters over Wi-Fi is speed. Does a powerline adapter set up reduce speed? No: a wired connection is simply faster than data transmitted through the air.
- The latest routers (using the 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6 standard) operate at speeds of up to 12Gbps, although the usual speed is closer to 1Gbps.
- Meanwhile, Ethernet using the fastest Cat6 cable can be achieved at up to 10Gbps. Slower Cat5 and Cat5e cables, meanwhile, can deliver 100Mbps or 1Gbps.
With Ethernet cables assembled to a good standard, a high-speed Ethernet network can be set up in your home. All you need is a few short lengths and powerline adapters as required.
What You Need to Know About Powerline Adapters Before Buying
Before you buy your powerline adapters, you need to know a few things.
- The best results from powerline adapters are when both or all devices are placed on the same electrical circuit. This isn't always practical, of course, but using two or more circuits can result in a drop in speed.
- You cannot use a powerline adapter while plugged into an extension cable or power strip. However, the adapters have an electric socket passthrough built in. This means that you can still use your extension cable or power strip in the same socket.
- A powerline adapter connects directly to your router. So, you'll need it to be positioned close to your router. Furthermore, the second powerline adapter should be within 300 meters.
- In most cases you can use powerline adapters that don't match, but will be limited by the maximum speed of the slower device.
- Finally, don't spend any money until you've carefully planned where your powerline adapters will go. Map it out on paper, or create a diagram on your computer or a mobile app. Just be sure you've covered all bases, from the location of power sockets in your home to the amount of Ethernet cabling you will need.
How to Connect Powerline Adapters to Your Network
Two types of powerline adapter are on the market.
- Ethernet only powerline adapter
- Powerline adapter with Wi-Fi
Below we look at setting each type up.
How to Connect Ethernet-only Powerline Adapters
Wondering how to get internet through a plug socket? With a powerline adapter connected to your router, it's simple.
- Start by ensuring you have two powerline adapters and two Ethernet cables of suitable length (more adapters can be added later).
- Connect an Ethernet cable to an unused port on your router.
- Plug the other end into your first powerline adapter.
- Plug your powerline adapter into an electric socket near the router.
- In the room near your PC, TV, game console, or whatever, take the second powerline adapter.
- Connect the second Ethernet cable between powerline adapter and the device you want to add to your network.
- Plug the powerline adapter into a nearby socket and power it on.
Within moments, data should be flowing from the router to the newly networked device.
How to Set up a Wireless Powerline Adapter to Extend Your Wi-Fi Network
Setting up a wireless powerline adapter is similar to how you use a standard powerline adapter.
- Prepare your main powerline adapter by plugging it into the electric socket and connecting the Ethernet cable to the router.
- Press the pair button on the powerline adapter.
- Next, plug in the second wireless powerline adapter and press the pair button.
- Wait for the devices to pair.
There are two ways to use wireless networking.
- The first is to press the WPS button on your router and wait. Once the second powerline adapter has cloned the SSID and password, it's ready to use. The problem with this is that WPS is inherently insecure.
- Alternatively, use the recommended software or web interface to configure the wireless powerline adapters. Check the device documentation to confirm the steps for this and avoid using WPS.
With the wireless powerline adapters set up, you've extended the range of your home network.
Troubleshooting Your Powerline Adapters
With your data flowing around your network thanks to powerline adapters, you should be ready to enjoy streamed TV, gaming, or just standard online use. But occasionally, issues occur with powerline adapters.
Almost all such problems can be resolved by resetting the device. But how do you reset a powerline adapter? Almost all devices have a hardware reset button, which initiates a power cycle for the adapter, but crucially, not for any electrical device plugged through it. Check the powerline adapter's documentation to learn where the reset button is.
Once the powerline adapter restarts, any issues should be resolved, and the data should flow once again.
Powerline Adapters: The Superior Home Network
Wi-Fi is great. It's perfect for mobile devices and a few IoT applications. But for static hardware like PCs, TVs, and game consoles – not to mention set-top boxes and media streamers – Ethernet is the better option.
By employing powerline adapters to extend your home network, you can ensure fast speeds for static devices around the house. With a powerline adapter with a Wi-Fi extension, meanwhile, those handheld consoles and laptops can potentially be used in any room.
Better still, powerline adapters are easy to install, setup, and troubleshoot.