Improve Your Home Internet Connection with Powerline Adapters
One of the most common questions I’m asked when it comes to home Internet networks is how to eliminate dead spots, or areas were the WiFi doesn’t seem to work. While this might no be a problem for you if you live in a small apartment or condo, it does tend to be an issue for large homes and offices. Many users plagued by connectivity or reliability issues are surprised to hear that powerline adapters are a simple and cost effective way to spread Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections across large areas. There’s no messing around with complicated installations here and these devices retail at under $200.
So, What Is a Powerline Adapter and How Does It Work?
Powerline adapters are small devices that plug into ordinary outlets in your home or office and extend your Wi-Fi or Ethernet signal using the electrical wiring. At minimum, two powerline adapters are needed: one to transmit the signal from your modem or router and one to receive it in your dead zone. The adapter that transmits the signal will need to be connected to your modem or router and plugged directly into a wall outlet, not a surge protector or extension cord. This device essentially takes the Ethernet protocol from your modem or router and converts it to a powerline protocol, allowing you to transmit data through your powerline. The second device will simply plug into a wall outlet in the room or area where your signal is weak or just doesn’t reach. This device will take that powerline protocol and convert it back into an Ethernet or Wi-Fi protocol. Voila! You now have connectivity in that dreaded dead zone.
How Do You Choose the Right Powerline Adapter?
Choosing the right powerline adapter will help you get the most out of this technology and help you minimize your connectivity frustrations. For starters, look for a device that uses the latest standard: HomePlug AV2. Like your Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection, powerline adapters can also be vulnerable to security breaches. To protect yourself, look for devices using 128-bit AES encryption. Aside from that you’ll need to decide whether you need a simple powerline passthrough adapter or a Wi-Fi powerline adapter. Not to worry, deciding between the two should be pretty simple.
Powerline Passthrough Adapter
A powerline passthrough adapter simply transmits your Ethernet connection from your modem or router to the wall outlet where the receiver is plugged in. To use the Internet connection from this device, you’ll need to plug in the device or devices that need an Internet connection. These devices are perfect when you need them for a piece of technology that cannot connect to Wi-Fi but uses a hard-wired connection instead. They’re also brilliant for devices that can connect to Wi-Fi but also offer the option to be hard-wired. The main advantage here is that you’ll get faster data speeds and a more reliable connection if you’re hard-wired. If this is the way you choose to go, I recommend the TP-LINK AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Kit.
Wi-Fi Powerline Adapter
As you might have guessed, a Wi-Fi powerline adapter works in the same way as a passthrough powerline adapter but has the added advantage of transmitting a Wi-Fi signal as well. Now you’ll still need to connect the transmitter, or first device, to your router or modem but instead of being limited to hard-wiring at the receiving end, these devices will allow you to connect via Wi-Fi. I recommend getting Wi-Fi enabled powerline adapters if you need a Wi-Fi connection in your problem area OR if you think you might need one in the future. Since these devices offer the option to hard-wire and connect via Wi-Fi, I recommend them if you’re not 100% positive about your future needs. If you decide on a Wi-Fi enabled powerline adapter, try the TP-LINK TL-WPA4530 KIT AV500 Powerline AC WiFi Kit.