If a traditional Wi-Fi or mesh network isn’t cutting it in your bigger home, and you don’t want to (or can’t) drill holes and snake Ethernet cable through your walls, you’ve got another option: powerline networking. Powerline networking utilizes your home’s electrical wiring to share your internet attachment, bypassing Wi-Fi, and its boundaries. After consuming more than 40 hours testing seven kits, we’ve found the TP-Link’s TL-PA9020P to be the best powerline networking Adapter for most people.
TP-Link’s TL-PA9020P V3 Powerline Networking Adapter is one among the fastest kits we’ve tested, is a smaller amount expensive than competing adapters with equivalent speed ratings, and includes dual Ethernet jacks on each adapter so you’ll wire two nearby devices to your networks—like a streaming box and a computer game console. It’s an excellent thanks to adding strong network connectivity to devices where Wi-Fi is impractical, and it comes with a two-year warranty.
If your Wi-Fi can’t reach one or two devices like game consoles or streaming boxes, and you can’t run Ethernet wiring through your home (or just don’t want to), the TP-Link TL-PA9020P Powerline Networking Adapter is one among the simplest ways to increase your network where the Wi-Fi is spotty. it had been among the highest three fastest competitors in our download throughput and browsing tests, so you’re assured speedy wired connections within the room where you place the receiving adapter no matter your router’s or your home’s construction.
A top Powerline Networking Adapter just like the TL-PA9020P improves speed (throughput) and responsiveness (latency) compared with Wi-Fi. for instance, the adapter was faster than all the others in one of our six tests. At a better distance of about 25 feet, throughput jumped from 78 Mbps on Wi-Fi to 238 Mbps, an improvement of 205%. once we increased the space, the gap narrowed and therefore the TL-PA9020P placed third behind the Zyxel PLA6456 and Netgear PLP2000, but the TP-Link adapter was still 76% faster than Wi-Fi at an equivalent location.
In addition to performing well, the TL-PA9020P may be a good value, generally about $10 to $20 less costly than the Netgear PLP2000. Both have dual Ethernet ports on each adapter, similar performance, passthrough power ports (you can still use the facility outlet for other things), and both are easy to line up. Just plug the TL-PA9020P’s adapters in, and that they will work right out of the box. If you reside during a multiple-unit dwelling like an apartment house, you’ll want to activate the onboard 128 bit-AES security by pressing the sync button on each adapter, but that’s a one-time process that takes seconds to implement.
The PA9020P comes with a two-year warranty, just like the other TP-Link and Zyxel adapters, and double the only year of the D-Link and Netgear adapters. Only the TrendNet gives you a three-year warranty, but the TrendNet TPL-423E2K has other problems.
If you would like to wire quite two devices to your network over a Powerline Networking Adapter, you’ll also connect a cheap network switch to the PA9020P and have enough ports to attach your entire wall unit. Taking those (often bandwidth-hungry) devices off your network is often a double win. Your streaming box, smart TV, the desktop attached to your TV, and the other local devices will enjoy the stronger signal from a wired connection, and therefore the remainder of your wireless devices are going to be more responsive since they’re on a now less-congested wireless network.
The Netgear PLP2000 Powerline Networking Adapter is a good choice if our top pick is out of stock, and if you need the best possible performance—think online gaming and streaming 4K video. The speedy connection to any devices you plug into it should make an enormous difference compared with unstable Wi-Fi, but it won’t have the maximum amount impact on regular browsing on a so-so network. Netgear offers a shorter warranty than TP-Link, but this a superb alternative, especially if it’s an equivalent price.
Since it’s normally a touch costlier without offering a transparent benefit, the Netgear PLP2000 is merely an honest choice if the TP-Link TL-PA9020P is out of stock, or if you can find it at a lower price. Both powerline adapter kits excelled in our throughput tests, trading places for the highest spots. The PLP2000 was faster overall, but you’d need a calculator to see the difference between the two on most tests; on one test the difference was less than a percentage point.
The PLP2000 kit placed a smidge higher than the TL-PA9020P on four of the six throughput and latency tests, meaning it is technically faster than our top pick. But the reality is that both powerline kits performed within a hair’s breadth of every other. With so many variables in play, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in day-to-day use around your home. And both options were over twice as fast the lowest performing kits—the TP-Link TL-WPA8630 v2 and the TrendNet TPL-423E2K—at the long-distance tests. Either of the highest kits will do exactly also to increase your network where Wi-Fi is problematic.
Most of the time, the Netgear adapter is about $10 to $20 more than our top pick from TP-Link, and Netgear only offers a one-year warranty compared with TP-Link’s two-year coverage. Those two factors were the main reasons the PLP2000 is only our runner-up pick. Aside from the similarities in speed, the overall design and feature set don’t differ in most meaningful ways. Both kits have two Ethernet ports per adapter, so you’ll be ready to connect two devices in each location. And the PLP2000 also includes an influence passthrough, a benefit because the adapter’s bulk blocks the opposite outlet.
TP-Link’s TL-PA7010P V2 is far less costly than the TL-PA9020P and it’s up to twenty slower while transferring data. It’s still more than fast enough if you need to connect one wired device like a smart TV. Most people should pay a little more for one of our faster picks with a second Ethernet port, but if you have only $50 or so to spend, the TL-PA7010P is your best option.
Even after testing new models, we still recommend the TP-Link TL-PA7010P v2 because of the best budget option for a powerline networking kit. It is in the middle of the gain our speed tests and matches the performance and features of costlier models. However, the price fluctuates, and once it goes over $70, you should consider paying a little more for our top pick if you can.
The performance was almost precisely average across the board using the PA7010P kit, particularly at the throughput inspections. Average, in this case, was enough improvement to handle 4K video streams, so it should be good enough to replace choppy Wi-Fi for at least one TV or streaming box, but we wouldn’t use it to wire up a whole entertainment center. It trailed the PA9020P and Netgear PLP2000, our pick, and runner-up, by 20% to 30% at the long-distance tests. But it was twice as fast as the last-place TrendNet TPL-423E2K at longer distances, and about 60% faster when the adapters were closer.
The PA7010P has only one Ethernet port per adapter, compared with two Ethernet ports for our pick and runner-up. The D-Link DHP-P701AV has only one port also but can cost twice the maximum amount without offering any real performance improvement in our testing. The TP-Link adapter surpasses the D-Link on one additional criterion: The PA-7010P features a two-year warranty, compared with the D-Link’s single year.
It’s an excellent, affordable thanks to taking one device sort of a smart TV or gaming PC off the Wi-Fi and put it on a speedy reference to less interference.
How we picked
Much like any network connection, what we’re really looking for here is the most speed and reliability we can get for the best price. Unfortunately, just like Wi-Fi, the big numbers on the box can be misleading—you’ll never get the theoretical maximum of 2 Gbps out of a kit that uses the AV2-2000 standard. And sometimes a product from one brand on the slower AV2-1000 standard can actually achieve better than a product from a different brands that uses AV2-2000. So we directly tested each kit, using equivalent techniques employed in our Wi-Fi router, Wi-Fi mesh, and Wi-Fi extender guides.
When deciding which devices to test, these were our criteria:
- Throughput, or speed: We measured how briskly each powerline kit downloads files and streaming data. At a bare minimum, we’re looking for at least 25 Mbps, the speed you’d need for 4K video streaming to one device. If your home internet connection is slower than that and therefore the explanation for your problems, a powerline networking kit might not make a difference. We used AV2 throughput ratings as a guideline when picking which kits to test—those numbers aren’t always indicative of real-world performance, but newer and better kits do generally have higher throughput rates.
- Latency, or delay: This is the kind of speed that makes most of what you actually do on the internet—such as web browsing and game playing—seem fast or slow. It’s frustrating when you have to wait longer than a couple of seconds for a response from a website or an app’s servers
- Price: A pair of Ethernet-only powerline adapters shouldn’t be quite $120; a kit with a Wi-Fi radio on the far end shouldn’t be quite $150. Once you reach that price, you’ll be happier watching a mesh networking kit or evaluate if you would like to put in wired Ethernet in your home.
- Wi-Fi capabilities: You’ll get the very best performance results from a powerline connection by plugging in a coaxial cable, but many of us actually need to urge good Wi-Fi coverage to a different room.
- Extra Ethernet port(s): Having an additional Ethernet connection (or two) may be a boon for smart homes. They come in handy if you need “just one more connection” and don’t want to bother with an additional network switch for a media streaming box and a desktop PC in the same room.
- Power passthrough: It’s not a dealbreaker, but we prefer powerline kits with 110 V passthrough outlets on the front face. Powerline adapters should be plugged directly into the wall—not into an influence strip—and kits without power passthrough will block one or both of your wall outlets.
- Warranty: It’s not the foremost important feature, but we gave extra points to powerline kits with two- or three-year warranties. Two contenders had only a single year of coverage.
- We tested only current-generation powerline devices, and that we don’t recommend older non-AV2 devices. The modern AV2 standard effects much faster real-world speeds, better reliability, and mandatory push-button encryption.
The AV2 standard (and the G.hn standard the Zyxel kit uses) needs modern, three-prong electrical wiring. If you only have two-prong outlets, powerline networking is probably not for you—but if you want to try it anyway, your best bet is the TP-Link AV600 Powerline Adapter Kit.
How we tested
To test coverage and performance, we connected each kit to a TP-Link Archer A7 (our current budget Wi-Fi router pick) during a challenging home environment. The three-story, 2,400-square-foot house we used is built into a hillside. The house has Wi-Fi–blocking interior materials, including interior glass panels, a masonry fireplace in the middle of the living room, and a metal-and-wood staircase in the center of the home.
The router and web server were located in a home office in the attic of the home. One powerline adapter was also plugged into a close-by outlet, with its coaxial cable connected to a port on the router. Powerline adapters are paired automatically when you plug them in, but to ensure we had a secure connection, we tapped the pairing/encryption button on both units after they were plugged in.