Is the WLAN powerline adapter from the discounter worth it?

From Thursday, September 16, Aldi North will have a powerline adapter kit from TP-Link on sale for 39.99 euros. Whether the offer is any good, atechbook explains.

Powerline adapters are a solution when a WLAN network is no longer sufficient. For example, if the wireless transmission can no longer get through a thick wall or into remote rooms, such an adapter can be the solution. The name “powerline” comes from the fact that the connection is made via the house’s power line. Usually, powerline adapters come in a set, as is the case with the TP-Link TL-WPA4221 at discounter Aldi.

Powerline adapters for expanding the home network

The two plugs allow you to extend network access from one power outlet to any other in the house. The input plug (TL-PA4010) is plugged in near the WLAN router and connected to it via Ethernet cable. The output plug (TL-WPA4220) can then be placed in another room where the WLAN is not available. The two plugs automatically establish a connection to each other. If you also press the “Pair” button on both devices, the connection is additionally secured.

The TP-Link TL-WPA4221 kit has two expansion options. Two LAN ports are available on the output connector. This can be used to connect laptops or desktop PCs to the Internet via cable, for example. The plug can also clone the existing Wi-Fi network. There is a separate button for this, which automatically adopts the settings of the home WLAN.

Good in theory, often quite weak in practice

Theoretically, up to 600 Mbit/s (megabits per second) transmission speed is possible with the powerline kit. The output plug supports WLAN-n with up to 300 Mbit/s. The two LAN ports are limited to a somewhat lame 100 Mbit/s. It is no wonder that TP-Link did not opt for faster ports. After all, powerline adapters can only rarely reach the theoretically possible transmission speed. The data rate depends on how far apart the two plugs are and whether others in the home network are already using similar adapters.

We also have reservations about the WLAN function of the powerline kit. The plug only transmits on the 2.4 gigahertz frequency band – not on 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band is notoriously crowded, as mainly older and cheaper devices transmit on it.

We can therefore only conditionally recommend the TP-Link TL-WPA4221 kit. If you only need an extension for the home network to check e-mails and browse the Internet in the bedroom, you can use it without hesitation. However, Aldi’s offer is less suitable for applications like gaming, streaming and home office that require a lot of bandwidth and a stable connection. The price of 39.99 Euros at Aldi is unbeatably cheap online. On Amazon, the two-piece set is available for around 47 Euros.

Sources

  • Aldi North
  • TP-Link