Powerline Adapters - the WiFi alternative

So you've got the snazzy new router from your ISP with superfast broadband and ultra wifi, but even that doesn't let you stream Netflix in the bedroom, or your kids frag their pals on the latest shooter in the loft. So what now? Well, there is an excellent alternative that just might do the trick.

Enter: the Powerline adapter. OK, that's a bit dramatic, but bear with me, as they are really worth considering. So in all houses you have your electrical wiring that provides power to the sockets, well what if those same wires can be used to rout your data too. That's how powerline adapters work. You have 2 units (They are usually sold in packs of 2 or 3) , the first one you plug into a standard wall socket as close to your router as possible. Now its important that they are plugged into the wall and not into an extension lead (more on this later). Once plugged in, you take the ethernet cable that came with the adapter, plug one end into the adapter and the other goes into the ethernet sockets on the back of your router (usually labelled 1,2,3,4) - any one will do. If you are short of sockets you may need to invest in a network switch, but that's for another day. Once this is all connected, go to the room that you need the internet in and plug the other adapter into the wall socket, connect the second ethernet cable that should be in the pack into the powerline adapter and the other end into the device that you need connected (PS4, Xbox, Sky etc) and voila - that's all there is to it. Most kits are paired in the factory, so when you plug them in, they should just work out of the box. If this is not the case, you may need to pair them with each other. The manufactures will explain how to do this in the instructions, but more often than not, it requires the pressing and holding of a pair button located in the adapters. For this it may be easier to have both adapters plugged in close to each other to save you running up and down the stairs.

Earlier in the blog I mentioned about not plugging the powerline adapters into a 4 gang extension socket. This is because a lot of extension sockets come with surge protection circuitry built in which plays havoc with the data connection between the adapters. Now, that's not to say it wont work - actually I have had some good experiences with this, but you may find your speed is reduced if you do.

Powerline adapters are great for consoles etc, but what about getting Wi-Fi to iPad's and phones that don't use a wired connection. Well, some powerline adapter kits include a Wi-Fi plug as well. So you connect them the same way, but the Wi-Fi plug transmits a hotspot that you can connect your iPad or mobile phone to. If you can, try setting this up to 'clone' your main routers Wi-Fi - this makes 'roaming' between the connections (as you move around your house) a little easier - especially if you are using a Wi-Fi printer that is connected to your broadband router.

I hope this has been useful, and if you are thinking of using powerline adapters and need some help setting them up, please contact me.

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