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Can I use powerline in my house?

What is powerline networking?

Powerline networking, also known as powerline communication or powerline adapter, is a method of sending data over the electrical wiring of your home. It works by modulating digital data and transmitting it over the existing electrical cables. This allows you to extend your network to areas where running an Ethernet cable may be difficult.

The powerline adapters plug into standard electrical outlets and connect to your router via an Ethernet cable. The data signals are transferred over your home’s electrical circuitry. As long as the adapters are on the same electrical system, data can be transferred between them. This creates a network connection without the need for WiFi or additional cables.

Some key advantages of powerline networking:

– Uses your existing electrical wiring – no need to install Ethernet cables.
– Can extend your network to hard-to-reach places in your home.
– Provides generally faster and more reliable connections compared to WiFi.
– Encryption keeps your network data secure.
– Works with multiple adapters to create a whole-home network.

Is powerline networking safe?

Yes, powerline networking is generally considered safe. The technology uses frequencies between 2-80 MHz for data transmission, which is above the 50-60 Hz frequency used to transmit electricity. This means it does not interfere with normal electrical operation.

Powerline adapters must pass electrical safety certifications before they can be sold. They have built-in circuit protection and will automatically shut down in the event of a power surge or lightning strike to prevent damage.

The only potential safety concern is improperly installed devices overheating. As long as you use reputable adapters and install them correctly, following all instructions, there should be no risks. Do not overload electrical outlets when plugging in the adapters.

What are the speed and range of powerline networks?

The speed and range of powerline networks can vary depending on:

– Electrical circuit wiring – Older wiring and more devices on a circuit can degrade performance. Newer home electrical wiring works best.
– Powerline adapter model – Speeds range from 50 Mbps on lower-end models to 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) on high-end models.
– Electrical noise interference – Appliances on the electrical system that produce noise, like vacuum cleaners, can temporarily disrupt signals.
– Distance between adapters – Up to 300 meters (1000 ft) range is common for modern adapters. Speed decreases with distance.

Under ideal conditions with modern adapters and wiring, real-world speeds over 300 Mbps are possible. But in practice, most homes get 50-150 Mbps depending on wiring conditions. This is generally faster than WiFi.

The range can extend up to 1000 ft between adapters, allowing coverage across most homes. Large homes may require multiple adapters connected over a single electrical system.

What do I need to set up powerline networking?

To set up powerline networking in your home, you’ll need:

– At least 2 powerline adapters – One connects near your router and the other(s) connect where you want network access.
– Electrical outlets near your router and other locations to plug in the adapters.
– Ethernet cables to connect the adapters to your router and devices.
– A router broadcasting your home network that the powerline adapters can connect to.
– (Optional) An additional switch or wireless access point if you need more wired ports or WiFi in the locations with powerline adapters.

Many powerline kits come with 2 or more adapters to get you started. You can add more adapters as needed. Before purchasing, make sure the electrical outlets are on the same circuit and not separated by electrical breaker boxes. Different circuits will degrade or block the signal.

How do I set up a powerline network?

Follow these steps to set up a powerline network:

1. Locate the electrical outlets you’ll use – Ideally outlets on the same circuit and within range limits of your chosen powerline adapters.

2. Plug in the first powerline adapter near your router using the included Ethernet cable. Connect it to a LAN port on your router.

3. Plug in another powerline adapter at a location you want network access using the Ethernet cable.

4. Push the pairing/sync button on both adapters to securely connect them together. A light on the adapter will indicate when they are paired.

5. Connect devices to the Ethernet ports on the powerline adapters to access the network. Or connect a wireless access point to extend WiFi coverage.

6. For additional wired ports or coverage areas, add more powerline adapters and pair them to your existing network. Be sure they are on the same electrical system.

Once paired, the powerline adapters automatically form a secure network without needing any configuration. Data will transfer between them as if they were connected via Ethernet cables. You can also set up encryption if desired for an extra layer of security.

Can I use any powerline adapters together?

Generally, no. Most powerline adapters are only compatible with models from the same manufacturer due to differences in data modulation technologies they use.

Some adapters support the HomePlug AV standard that improves compatibility between brands. However, you still need to check that particular models are interoperable before purchasing. Mixing adapters that are not compatible can result in reduced performance or a failed connection.

The safest option is to purchase powerline adapters from a single brand and product line designed to work together. Many kits include multiple adapters at a discounted price. You can then add more of the same adapters as needed. Check product details for compatibility information before buying.

Where should I position the powerline adapters?

Here are some tips on positioning powerline adapters:

– Place the first adapter near your router to connect to your home network. Use an Ethernet cable to connect them together.

– Place additional adapters in locations where you want wired network access. Make sure they are on the same electrical circuit.

– Try to minimize the distance between adapters for best performance. Place on the same floor if possible.

– Avoid positions that add electrical noise like near major appliances. This can interfere with signals.

– For desktop computers, place the adapter near the computer and use a short Ethernet run. Avoid long cable lengths.

– Centralized positions in your home may provide better coverage across multiple rooms or floors.

– Higher up positions on walls can improve signal strength in some cases compared to low down outlets.

Experiment with positions to determine what works best in your home. You may need to use repeater adapters or multiple adapters in very large homes for full coverage.

Can I connect a switch to the powerline adapters?

Yes, you can connect an Ethernet network switch to a powerline adapter to add more wired ports. This allows you to connect multiple wired devices in the location to the powerline network.

Simply plug the switch into the Ethernet port on the powerline adapter using a standard Ethernet cable. Then plug devices into the additional ports on the switch. All connected devices will now have network access through the powerline adapter.

Make sure to select a switch suited for your needs – 5, 8, 16 or 24 port switches provide different levels of connectivity. Also be aware of the powerline adapter’s maximum throughput, and combine multiple switches across multiple powerline adapters if needed to share bandwidth. With Gigabit adapters, you can take advantage of full Gigabit speeds per port.

Can I connect a wireless access point to a powerline adapter?

Yes, connecting a wireless access point to a powerline adapter is an excellent way to extend your WiFi network. This allows you to add WiFi coverage in areas where your router’s wireless signal may be weak.

To do this, simply plug the wireless access point into the Ethernet port on the powerline adapter. The AP can then broadcast a new wireless network or extend your existing WiFi network. Devices will connect wirelessly to the AP while it passes data over the powerline network.

This is useful for adding WiFi to garages, dead zones, upper floors, backyards, and more. Make sure to disable the wireless on any router or modem connected to your main powerline adapter to avoid interference. Then configure the wireless settings on your AP as desired.

Can I use powerline networking with satellite TV or cable?

Generally, yes. Powerline networking adapters utilize higher frequencies than satellite TV and cable signals, so there is little risk of interference. However, issues can still occur in some cases:

– Ethernet-over-coax adapters used by satellite or cable systems may interfere with powerline signals on the same coax line. Use a coax splitter to isolate the signals.

– Some satellite/cable systems bond to your electrical system, which can cause noise that disrupts powerline networking. Isolate the bond if possible.

– Outlets used for satellite/cable equipment should use a separate powerline adapter to avoid interference on those lines.

– If the satellite/cable system has its own internal network, you may need to place your modem in the DMZ or bridge mode to allow the powerline network to coexist.

Proper configuration can allow powerline and satellite/cable networks to work simultaneously in most situations. But you may need an electrician to isolate any bonded lines causing disruption to powerline connectivity.

Can I set up a powerline network in an apartment?

You can set up powerline networking in an apartment or condo, but performance will depend heavily on how the electrical system is configured:

– Best performance will occur if your apartment’s outlets are all on the same circuit. Different circuits will limit connectivity.

– Nearby apartments on shared circuits may also get networked together with your adapters. Use encryption to keep your network traffic private.

– Very old wiring or overloaded electrical circuits will hamper powerline signaling and lower speeds. Check your electrical panel.

– Using a grounded outlet instead of a 2-prong outlet will improve powerline networking speeds and reliability.

– Wireless interference from nearby WiFi networks may force slower powerline adapter speeds. Try using 5 GHz WiFi instead of 2.4 GHz if possible.

– To extend your network to a different circuit, use a wireless access point connected to your powerline network via Ethernet.

While apartment powerline networks are possible, issues like multiple circuits and old wiring can limit performance compared to a standard home. Talk to your electrician if you are not getting sufficient speeds.

Can powerline networking interfere with WiFi?

Powerline networking adapters operate in frequency bands from 2 to 80 MHz. This is below typical WiFi frequencies, so there is little risk of direct interference. However, in apartments and condos, there are some scenarios where powerline networks can impact WiFi:

– Powerline signaling can create electromagnetic noise that reduces WiFi signal strength if the adapters are too close. Keep adapters 20+ feet from WiFi access points.

– Powerline networks share broadband capacity with WiFi networks. More powerline devices means less capacity for WiFi.

– WiFi devices like microwaves and some phones use the 2.4 GHz frequency, which can interfere with powerline signaling.

– If powerline adapters connect to a common electrical system with neighbors, shared bandwidth will be reduced. This slows your WiFi as well as theirs.

Proper installation by maintaining physical separation between powerline and WiFi devices can prevent most issues. Using newer adapters with noise filtering will also help minimize any interference. Consider 5 GHz WiFi instead of the more crowded 2.4 GHz band if needed.

How can I improve my powerline network performance?

If your powerline network is too slow or experiencing connection issues, here are some tips to improve performance:

– Use outlets on the same electrical circuit – Different circuits will degrade or block the signal.

– Minimize distance between adapters – Longer runs result in slower speeds. Under 300m (1000 ft) is best.

– Avoid sources of electrical noise like appliances – This interferes with signaling.

– Place adapters away from WiFi access points to prevent interference.

– Upgrade to newer/faster powerline adapters if yours are outdated. Models below 200 Mbps may be too slow.

– Use a grounded 3-prong outlet instead of 2-prong if possible – This improves signal transfer.

– Consider wiring improvements or an electrician consultation for very old electrical lines.

– Set up QoS on your router to prioritize powerline traffic – This guarantees capacity.

– Use a repeater adapter halfway between your other adapters to extend range.

Your home’s electrical wiring is the biggest factor, but following these tips will help optimize your powerline network’s physical installation. Upgrading to faster adapters can also improve speeds.

Can I use powerline networking outside my house?

Expanding a powerline network outside your home is possible but challenging. Here are a few scenarios:

– In a yard or garden – Run an outdoor-rated Ethernet cable from the indoor adapter to an exterior power outlet. Position the outdoor adapter close to the outlet to avoid long cable runs.

– In an outbuilding or garage – It may work if fed by the same electrical breaker, but performance degrades with distance from house. Use repeaters.

– Across streets/neighbors -Almost never works. Would require very specialized equipment due to transformer hops.

– Over extended distances – Not feasible for most adapters. They are intended for in-home use on a single system.

– At highest WiFi router power, with clear line of sight – Possible for basic connectivity if within range. Obstacles and interference will disrupt signal.

The challenges of passing data across transformers and noise from long cable runs limits powerline networking for outdoor applications. It’s best to stick to in-home use or very short exterior runs using outdoor-rated Ethernet cabling to extend your network. For more distant buildings, point-to-point wireless bridges provide better connectivity.

Can I use powerline networking with a generator?

Using powerline networking with a backup generator requires some special configuration:

– Most small portable generators do not play nicely with powerline signals due to “dirty power” output. It can prevent adapters from linking.

– Generators should have “pure sine wave” output , voltage regulation, and be properly grounded – This gives clean power for powerline networking.

– Connect devices directly to the generator, not via your home wiring – This prevents interference on your live electrical lines.

– Only connect a few essential devices like a router, modem, and single powerline adapter. Avoid noise from other appliances.

– Position the powerline adapter very close to the generator, as performance degrades with extended cable length.

– Weatherproof your connections and allow proper generator ventilation when outdoors.

With proper generator selection and setup focused on clean power delivery, powerline networking is possible as a last-resort for temporary backup connectivity when WiFi is unavailable. But success is not guaranteed with generator-supplied power.


Powerline networking offers a convenient way to extend your home network by turning your existing electrical system into a wired data network. While not quite as fast and seamless as pure Ethernet cabling, it provides a solid alternative when running cables is impractical.

With the ability to reach locations WiFi can’t, avoid wireless interference, and obtain faster speeds than older WiFi technology, powerline networking fills an important niche for in-home connectivity. Set up properly using compatible adapters positioned close together on the same circuit, it can provide coverage across most homes. Just keep in mind performance limitations from electrical noise and older wiring when choosing powerline for your specific networking needs.