How to improve your WLAN with a powerline adapter

Thick walls, long distances: In some apartments and single-family homes, the WLAN connection doesn’t make it into every room. Powerline adapters can help. They route data through the power grid.

If the WLAN at home doesn’t reach everywhere and the repeater doesn’t help anymore, an Internet connection via powerline adapters can be an alternative. The adapters route data through the home’s power grid. atechbook explains how you can tune up your WLAN with the powerline gadget.

Internet via the socket

For a powerline connection between two rooms or floors, you need two adapters. One connects directly to the router with a LAN cable. Ernst Ahlers, editor of the trade magazine “c’t,” recommends plugging the adapter into a free wall socket and not into a multiple socket. This minimizes the risk of other devices restricting the adapter’s performance. In order to still be able to use the socket, it is worth investing in an adapter with a through socket, says Ahlers.

A second adapter is connected to the power grid where the data is to go – for example, in the room where a smart TV or PC is located. Now you have two options: Either the TV is connected to the adapter with a LAN cable. Or you can invest in a combination adapter that sets up another WLAN network. “In terms of performance, that shouldn’t make any difference,” says Ahlers.

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Speed depends on the rooms

Good conditions for a powerline connection look like this: Two rooms directly next to or below each other, separated by a thick wall or ceiling, but connected via a power line. It is also good if no one else in the house uses Powerline. The further apart the rooms are and the more data is chased through the power network, the more likely the data rate is to drop.

Under ideal conditions, you can achieve a net throughput of up to 200 megabits per second (Mbit/s), explains Ahlers. If the rooms are far apart and many apartments share a power grid, however, the rate can drop to 30 Mbit/s. “I would just try it out.”

A considered decision

One thing consumers should keep in mind when connecting via Powerline: “Each adapter draws power, namely about two watts.” If the installation is structurally feasible, Ahlers says a direct connection via an Ethernet cable is the cheaper alternative. “And the data transmission is much faster and more stable.” If a WLAN connection is to be established at the end point, however, a WLAN access point is still needed for this.