What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (2023)

Wi-Fi doesn't always work as expected and isn't your only networking option. Ethernet offers the best speeds, but looks ugly when draped by devices and running along floorboards. This is where Powerline comes into play.


  • What is powerline network?
  • Why is it useful?
  • Is powerline better than WiFi?
  • Is powerline safe?
  • Top-Powerline-Adapter

In short, Powerline offers the best of both worlds by utilizing the existing electrical wiring in a home or office. We explain what this network solution does, along with its pros and cons.

What is powerline network?

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (1)

Powerline networks are a technology that falls between wired and wireless. Instead of shooting network data in the air or through cables draped along baseboards, it uses the existing electrical wiring in a home or office. It also supports the longest distance of the three, although performance is heavily dependent on overall electrical wiring and device pulling power.


  • Best Router Deals: Save on gaming routers and mesh networks
  • The best mesh WiFi systems for 2023
  • The Best Subreddits You Should Subscribe to in 2023

The concept is nothing new. Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL, uses existing telephone wires to bring an Internet connection to a home or office. This is accomplished by transmitting data at a higher frequency than telephone service.

With Powerline, the alternating current is transmitted at 50 Hz or 60 Hz, depending on the electrical system. Powerline transmits data between 2MHz and 86MHz but ignores the power-based frequencies.

The idea here is to provide network connectivity for devices out of Wi-Fi range without drapingEthernet cableall through the home or office. The overall speed, as a rule, does not correspond to the wired network, and in some casesWi-Fi connections. But what Powerline offers over wireless is stability and less latency because the technology doesn't struggle with signal interference.

Let's get technical

Most powerline kits provide two adapters, each with an Ethernet port. A device is plugged into an electrical outlet and connected to the LAN port of a modem or routeran Ethernet cable. The second unit plugs into a different outlet near the device you want to connect to the network.

Without getting too technical with the hardware and software layers, the first adapter attached to your modem can orRouterconverts the received Ethernet protocol (IEEE 802.3) into the HomePlug AV2 protocol. This data is then “broadcast” down the electrical wires, much like routers convert and broadcast wireless connections (IEEE 802.11). Instead of relying on antennas, adapters transmit through the line and neutral power connectors.

(Video) Powerline vs Wireless vs Ethernet Networking (NCIX Tech Tips #52)

Previously, the line and neutral lines were only used for a single input and output (1 × 1). The HomePlug AV2 specification added the ground wire, enabling MIMO transmissions and beamforming to support Ultra HD video transmissions. The adapter essentially transmits data over any two pairs, such as line and ground or line and neutral (2×2).

All other adapters connected to the vehicle electrical system receive both power and data transmission. They filter out the latter, convert everything back to the Ethernet protocol, and push the network connection through the Ethernet port. Some powerline adapters also offer Wi-Fi connectivity.

HomePlug AV2 is the best

Powerline networks work with any wired device that can connect to the Internet—all wireless if the adapter has Wi-Fi. All adapters synchronize and work together to create, for example, a digital map of the detected stations and their connections, which is useful for network management.

Currently the best powerline protocol is HomePlug AV2, a more flexible iteration of the older HomePlug standard designed to increase speed, expand coverage, and provide a sleep mode to reduce power consumption, among other notable features.

When looking for powerline adapters (more on that later), always remember to look for the latest protocol as quality increases greatly between generations.

Why is it useful?

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (2)

With Wi-Fi being used all over the world and everywhere in homes, shops and even on sidewalks, it obviously works. So why do we need another way to connect to the internet? Because there are situations in which powerline connections make more sense. Here are the big benefits.

Save money on installations

Suppose you have a device - let's sayof television– that can access the Internet via a wired Ethernet connection, but does not have WiFi. Unfortunately, your router is on the other side of the room. You can run Ethernet cables through your walls, along baseboards, or under your carpet, but it takes time, looks ugly, and could require a lot of cables. Buying a pair of powerline adapters is a faster and often cheaper solution.

Solve Wi-Fi problems

There are some places that Wi-Fi cannot reliably reach. High levels of interference or particularly large homes can make using a wireless connection too difficult. In these cases, powerline adapters can complement Wi-Fi networks or help provide standalone solutions for devices that require a wired connection. This can also help with other issues you want to improve such as: B. with choppy streaming or slow speeds.

Easy setting

Powerline networks are easy to install. You can do it yourself in minutes. If there are only one or two devices in your home that require the internet, powerline may be the most consumer-friendly solution for you.

Is powerline better than WiFi?

(Video) Powerline Network Extenders vs Wifi Extenders - Which is Better?

You might be wondering why you need Wi-Fi at all when powerline has all these benefits.IsPower line better? That's a good question.

Compared to buying multiple powerline adapters, a wireless router is probably the cheaper option. This and the added flexibility of a wireless signal are the main reasons Wi-Fi is the service of choice for millions of Internet users. With the advent of Wi-Fi 6 (which we'll discuss in more detail below), the top speeds and benefits of Wi-Fi for mobile devices are also much more significant than powerline.

Powerline supports distances of up to 300 meters, but adapters don't communicate in a straight line. Data has to flow up and down walls and through the attic, creating an invisible distance. If the electrical wiring in a home or office is too old, or the powerline adapters are too far apart, you're likely seeing far less than the real world maximum.

Powerline adapters also have limitations:

  • They must be plugged directly into an outlet:Powerline adapters will not work properly when plugged into surge protectors, power strips, or UPS units.
  • Avoid outlets managed by AFCI and GFCI circuit breakers:Arc Flash Circuit Breakers (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) can reduce power by up to 50%.
  • You should not share the same outlet with devices that generate electrical "noise":These devices include chargers, fluorescent lights, and electrical appliances.

Some powerline adapters have pass-through sockets so you don't lose an open power connection to other devices. You may also see adapters with built-in Wi-Fi to support smartphones and other wireless devices.

With all that being said, examine your home or office electrical layout, examine the fuse box, and consider where it's safe to plug in powerline adapters before purchasing a kit. You should also consider the state of powerline and how it compares to newer Wi-Fi standards before committing.

Is powerline obsolete?

Unfortunately, the HomePlug standard doesn't seem to be changing any time soon. While powerline adapters offer stability and less latency, they won't compete with routers based on Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 and Wi-Fi 6/6e standards.

The previous comparisons we made are based on Wi-Fi 5 Wave 1, which is currently the more common home and office networking solution. This standard offers a theoretical top speed of 1.3 Gbps, but again, you'll rarely see that in real wireless connections. The Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 standard appeared in 2018, increasing the maximum to 3.5 Gbps. Wi-Fi 6 is the newer WLAN standard with theoretical speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps.

You should now see where the powerline versus Wi-Fi argument leads. Since you're only seeing a 400Mbps max on newer AV2000 adapters, that might be a bit better than standing next to a Wi-Fi 5 Wave 1 router. Both suffer from speed loss due to range, although Wi-Fi 5 Wave 1 is worse as its maximum range is 30 meters.

In a recent benchmark of theTP-Link Archer AX11000 Wi-Fi-6-RouterReal-world speeds reached 2.4 Gbps at 5 feet, but dropped to 552 Mbps at 20 feet.Another benchmarksaw the TP-Link Archer AX6000 hit 1.5Gbps at 5ft, but dropped to 868Mbps at 75ft. This is significantly faster than Powerline.

(Video) Connecting an Internet TV with Powerline

But the big differentiator between powerline and Wi-Fi is the real thingphysicallyConnection. With Powerline, wired devices connect via a Gigabit Ethernet port and cable to create a stable connection at speeds of up to 400 Mbps. Speeds on wireless devices depend on range, interference from other devices, and the number of streams each device supports.

Is powerline safe?

electrical signalscan be hacked, just like eavesdropping on a Wi-Fi signal. For this reason, it is important to select powerline adapters with the best encryption technology available (currently 128-bit AES). Adapters are usually equipped with security buttons that, when activated, encrypt communications. Make sure these keys are always on.


When purchasing powerline adapter kits, pay close attention to the numbers on the labels. The TP-Link AV2000 kit, for example, offers up to 2,000 Mbit/s (or 2 Gbit/s), although you'll never see that maximum speed. Also look into the spec and make sure the kit provides Ethernet ports that support up to 1Gbps, as anything else - like 100Mbps - will limit your connection regardless of the transmission speed over your electrical wiring.

Powerful: TP-Link TL-PA9020P

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (4)

Based on the HomePlug AV2 protocol, this kit contains two identical adapters that support up to 2,000 Mbit/s. In real scenarios you can see up to 400Mbps.

Each unit features an integrated power outlet so you don't lose a power outlet at your outlet, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a one-touch pairing button that syncs with the other adapter(s). LEDs embedded on the side indicate strong (green) and weak (red) connections.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, the HomePlug AV2 protocol supports a 2×2 connection, resulting in two transmit and two receive streams. Other features include noise filtering, beamforming and an energy-saving mode.

Midrange: Netgear PL1200-100PAS

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (5)

Netgear's PL1200-100PAS kit offers speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps, although real-world speeds can be just over the 380 Mbps maximum. Keep in mind that this speed is local network based and will not improve your internet connection if you only pay for a 200Mbps subscription.

Unfortunately, this kit of two lacks built-in power outlets, so you lose an outlet in the outlet. These two adapters also only provide one Gigabit Ethernet port each, which limits your physical connections—even more so on the model yours is attached tomodem or router.

Other notable features include a physical button for encryption enforcement, link status indicators, MIMO and beamforming connectivity, and quick plug-and-play setup - no additional software required.

Budget: TP-Link TL-PA7010P

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (6)

Based on the HomePlug A2, this complete set contains two adapters with pass-through sockets and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Similar to the other kits on our list, each adapter comes with connection status indicators and an easy pairing button for your convenience.

The only problematic design flaw that we noticed was the location of the Ethernet port on the top of the device rather than underneath. While some may like this placement choice, we thought it was counterintuitive. However, this is a minor issue that does not affect the overall quality of the product.

Other notable perks we like about this set include plug-and-play and an auto-power-save mode. Unfortunately, this system doesn't have Wi-Fi connectivity. So if you want it, you need to pay $16 for upgraded TL-WPA7510 kit.

(Video) MOCA vs. Powerline : G.hn (Comtrend) and Homeplug AV2 (TpLink AV1000) compared!

Powerline means you'll never have to deal with unreliable WiFi or a tangle of Ethernet cables in your home ever again. These kits give you everything you need at the best price and all you need is the electrical wiring you already use at home or at work. This system may have some flaws, but there are more benefits to making up for them.

What is Powerline Networking and how is it used? | digital trends (7)

Today's tech news, curated and condensed for your inbox

Check your inbox!

Please provide a valid email address to continue.

This email address is currently on file. If you don't receive any newsletters, please check your spam folder.

Sorry, there was an error subscribing. Please try again later.

Privacy PolicyUse a different email address

(Video) TRENDnet 200Mbps Powerline AV Adapter TPL-303E - Spotlight

Editor's Recommendations

  • What is Wi-Fi 7: Everything you need to know about 802.11be
  • WiFi not working? How to fix the most common problems
  • The best modem router combos for 2023
  • The best WiFi routers for 2023
  • The best tablets of 2023: which ones should you buy?


What is a powerline networking technology? ›

Powerline networking, or powerline communications, is a form of communication that uses electrical wiring to carry both data and alternating current (AC) electrical supply through existing electrical infrastructure.

Is an emerging trend for home networking that uses existing electrical wiring to connect devices? ›

Powerline networking is an emerging trend for home networking that uses existing electrical wiring to connect devices, as shown in Figure 1-32. The concept of “no new wires” means the ability to connect a device to the network wherever there is an electrical outlet.

Is Powerline networking good? ›

Many consumers wonder if Powerline adapters are good. And the answer to that is yes. A Powerline adapter is an excellent option for hard-to-cable structures or where installations are too costly or time-intensive.

Is powerline the same as Wi-Fi? ›

Powerline adapters use your home's existing electrical wires to extend connectivity, whereas Mesh Wi-Fi involves adding a much more powerful Wi-Fi signal, usually with multiple access points (APs).

How does powerline communication work? ›

Power Line Communication (PLC) is a communication technology that enables sending data over existing power cables. This means that, with just power cables running to an electronic device (for example) one can both power it up and at the same time control/retrieve data from it in a half-duplex manner.

What are the applications of power line communication? ›

1 INTRODUCTION Power line communication (PLC) is a very attractive technology, which can be used for many applications, such as home automation systems, CCTV cameras, pollution sensors, noise detectors, traffic density sensors, advertising backlit panels, solar applications, energy measurements, street lighting control ...

What is the latest trend in networking? ›

SD-WAN. A quickly growing number of companies are demanding and paying for secure access to applications. The growth of multi-cloud networking will push new and legacy businesses to relook at their networks in favour of SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to WAN management.

What is the latest technology in networking? ›

8 hot networking technologies for 2023
  • Unified SASE: Addresses hybrid workforce, hybrid clouds. ...
  • Multi-cloud networking software (MCNS): Enforces policies across clouds. ...
  • Cilium: Open source networking, security controls for containers. ...
  • Data Security Posture Management (DSPM): Automates data protection in the cloud.
Jan 12, 2023

What is the most popular technology for home networking? ›

The ubiquitous wireless technology Wi-Fi has become indispensable for home networking, public internet connectivity, supporting the internet of things and much, much more.

Is powerline the same as Ethernet? ›

Powerline networks are a great alternative to running Ethernet cables or unreliable Wi-Fi. Here's everything you need to know to get started. Wireless networking, when it works, is a truly wonderful thing. However, it's an unfortunate fact that it simply doesn't work for everyone.

What is the range of powerline networking? ›

Remember That Powerline Networks Have Limited Range

If you use Ethernet or Wi-Fi you are typically limited to 328 feet (about 100m) or 150 feet (45m) respectively. For most powerline adapters, the theoretical range is 984 feet (about 300 meters). In practice, you should try to keep it below 650 feet (around 200m).

Is powerline more stable than Wi-Fi? ›

A connection over a power line will probably have a better ping vs a Wifi connection. I would also think a power line would be more stable. Wifi is good 98% of the time but that 2% can really screw you up on a game. Especially in an apartment with 50 other APs around can cause some intermittent interference.

What is the difference powerline networking and PoE? ›

PoE vs.

On the other hand, Powerline is generally the opposite of Power over Ethernet — it's useful when there are power sockets at a place where network cables can't reach. However, PoE is faster and much more reliable in terms of network performance. When you can choose between the two, PoE is the way to go.

What is an example of Power Line Communication? ›

Power-line communications technology can use the electrical power wiring within a home for home automation: for example, remote control of lighting and appliances without installation of additional control wiring.

What are the components of power line carrier communication? ›

A power line carrier system includes three basic elements: a transmission line, presenting a channel for the transmission of carrier energy; tuning, blocking, and coupling equipment, providing a means of connection to the high-voltage transmission line; and transmitters, receivers and relays.

What is the future of Power Line Communication? ›

The global power line communication (PLC) systems market is anticipated to reach around $14 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 18.4% from 2016 to 2022. Power line communications is a comparatively new area of telecommunication. It is a communication technology that allows transfer of data over existing power cables.

What are the two types of Power Line Communication? ›

Types of Power Line Communication (PLC)
  • In-house networking: High-speed data transmission can be provided for home networking using the In-House mains power wiring.
  • Broadband over Power Line: Broadband internet access can be offered through the outdoor mains power wiring.
Sep 11, 2019

What are the 3 types of power systems? ›

There are three basic types of distribution system designs: Radial, Loop, or Network. As you might expect, you can use combinations of these three systems, and this is frequently done. The Radial distribution system is the cheapest to build, and is widely used in sparsely populated areas.

What are the trends in networking 2023? ›

Distributed IT and hybrid work create network complexity, which is driving adoption of AIOps, network and security convergence, multi-cloud, private 5G and digital twins in 2023. Highly distributed IT environments are forcing network evolution.

What are the main trends in Internet usage 2022? ›

The global total has grown by 1.8 percent over the past year, with 95 million new mobile users since this time last year. Global internet users: Global internet users have climbed to 4.95 billion at the start of 2022, with internet penetration now standing at 62.5 percent of the world's total population.

What are the 3 leading technologies used in computer networking? ›

Contemporary digital networks and the Internet are based on three key technologies: client/server computing, the use of packet switching, and the development of widely used communications standards (the most important of which is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol [TCP/IP]) for linking disparate networks ...

Is Ethernet faster than powerline? ›

While you might be able to maintain a consistent connection, wireless speeds are significantly slower than a wired Ethernet connection. This won't be too much of an issue for browsing the internet but could pose a problem if you are trying to stream content off a NAS or send large files wirelessly between devices.

Is powerline slower than Wi-Fi? ›

Powerline networks are simple to set up, very affordable, and can work well. But they're also susceptible to interference from environmental factors that can leave you with a network that's slower than you'd like or expect, and slower than your existing Wi-Fi setup.

Is power over Ethernet better than Wi-Fi? ›

A wired network connection is always more secure, since wireless connections are more vulnerable to interception (more on network security here). So, a plain old Ethernet connection gives you more wireless network security than wireless, but if you go with Power over Ethernet, you get that and power simultaneously.

What is the main advantage of using PoE power over Ethernet? ›

The primary advantage of power over ethernet is the delivery of data and power over one Cat5 or Cat6 ethernet cable. Remote installation generally costs less than optical fiber and does not require a qualified electrician, saving building owners valuable time and labor costs.

What are the three types of PoE? ›

At present, PoE standard has three types: IEEE 802.3af, IEEE 802.3at and IEEE 802.3bt.

What devices use PoE? ›

Examples of devices powered by PoE include:
  • VoIP phones.
  • IP cameras including PTZs.
  • WAPs.
  • IP TV (IPTV) decoders.
  • Network routers.
  • A mini network switch installed in distant rooms, to support a small cluster of Ethernet ports from one uplink cable. ...
  • Intercom and public address systems and hallway speaker amplifiers.


1. Understanding Digital Connectivity: tech trends you can't afford to ignore
(David Clinton)
2. CES 2012: TRENDnet's Smallest 500Mbps Powerline Adapter
3. Internet from the POWER OUTLET!? -- Comtrend PG-9182PT & PG-9182S4 Powerline Adapters
(5-Port Studios)
4. Industrial EtherNetIP Overview
(Royal Industrial Solutions)
5. Comtrend Powergrid 902 - Powerline Ethernet Adapters
6. 🌵7 Best Powerline Network Adapters 2020
(Best Stuff)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 28/09/2023

Views: 6742

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.