Powerline is a simple-to-install digital home technology that gets you faster speeds than Wi-Fi for connecting devices to your network, regardless of whether or not they're in the same room as your router. It uses your home's power lines to create a network that's faster than Wi-Fi, and can create new Wi-Fi hotspots to boost your home's wireless speeds.
Powerline adapters are usually a better bet than mere Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters that merely push an already weak signal further around a house.
Simply plug one powerline adapter into a power socket near your router and attach it to the router with an ethernet cable (usually supplied with the adapter kit). Then go to the room where you want to hook up a device, plug the second adapter into a nearby power socket, and connect another ethernet cable from that to the device you want to get online.
That's it. It really is plug and play.
Some powerline adapters also have wireless functionality so they create a new Wi-Fi hotspot in that second room, too – so you get much faster Wi-Fi for your laptop, smartphone or tablet.
You should also consider adapters that have an integrated "pass-through" power socket and therefore don't take up a valuable wall socket.
The cheapest powerline adapters are usually rated at 200Mbps, the middle-performing are around 500Mbps, and the fastest can go as high as 2,000Mbps.
You won't actually achieve these speeds as they're theoretical maximums, but they're an easy way to gauge which models are fastest.
PC Advisor actually speed tests powerline adapters in real-world environments so check out our list below for our group test results and recommendations, along with links to our full reviews for speed scores and feature explanations.
For more information on powerline speed myths, tips and recommendations read our powerline FAQ.
Powerline adapter reviews
- Reviewed on: 14 July 16
- RRP: £99.99, US$119.99
We were impressed by the real-world performance of the TP-Link AV2000 (TL-PA9020P KIT), which scored as high as we’ve seen in our tests. The inclusion of pass-through sockets and two Gigabit Ethernet ports per adapter are also welcomed. There’s no extra Wi-Fi hotspot function but if your house Wi-Fi is acceptable this isn’t the worst omission. If you want a fast Powerline starter kit with more than one Ethernet port plus pass-through this is highly recommended.
- Reviewed on: 5 July 15
- RRP: £48, US$59.99
The TrendNet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter Kit features some of the fastest Powerline adapters we've tested so far, and the Wireless Access Point option adds super-fast Wi-Fi for good measure. Of course we like the speed, which is the whole point of Powerline, but we were also impressed that the standard adapter had Gigabit Ethernet – although more than one port per adapter would have been nice. It might be basic in its single port and lack of pass-through socket and it’s a shame that the Wireless adapter kit, which does have two ports, is limited by the use of 10/100 Ethernet but you simply can’t argue with the impressive speed scores and we've seen the Wireless Starter Kit sell for under £50 so is incredibly good value.
- Reviewed on: 14 July 16
- RRP: £79.99, US$96.99
The TP-Link AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kits (TL-PA8010 KIT, TL-PA8010P KIT, TL-PA8030P KIT, or TL-WPA8630P KIT) match their rival Gigabit Powerline adapter sets in our real-world speed tests. We prefer the only slightly more expensive TL-PA8030P as it boasts three Gigabit Ethernet ports, compared to the TL-PA8010P's single port adapters. If your house suffers from weak Wi-Fi consider the WPA8630P that includes functionality to add a new Wi-Fi hotspot in your house. If your Wi-Fi signal is acceptable you can live without a new hotspot, and the TL-PA8030P especially represents great Powerline value.
- Reviewed on: 10 January 15
- RRP: £40.49 per adapter; £80.98 for required two
The Solwise SmartLink PL1200AV2 Passthrough PIGGY (why PIGGY??) HomePlug Adapter might have an over-long name but it is one of the fastest Powerline adapters we’ve ever tested. In a straight fight with its nearest competitor, the better-looking but bigger Devolo 1200+, it aced the speed tests by a whisker. It features two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Passthrough socket just like the Devolo, but is a third cheaper. There’s no Wi-Fi model but pound for pound it’s hard to fault this super-speedy Powerline adapter. Don’t forget that you need two to make a network, and can add extra if you want to network other rooms, too.
- Reviewed on: 12 December 14
- RRP: £119.99
The Devolo dLan 1200+ is one of the fastest Powerline adapters we’ve tested to date. It might not reach the dizzying speeds that it claims, but that’s true of all Powerline adapters out there. Its integrated electrical pass-through power socket is a real bonus, and the model with Wi-Fi and two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the second unit, if a little pricy, pretty much has it all.
Read our Devolo 1200+ Powerline Adapter review.
- Reviewed on: 5 September 16
- RRP: £159.99
The Asus PL-AC56 AV2 1200 Wi-Fi Powerline Extender performed well in our real-world wired speed tests, but less so from a Wi-Fi point of view despite its unique external antennae that suggested it would be a wireless champ; Asus claims they will improve signal strength at greater distances than adapters with built-in antennae. This second adapter is also pretty large and therefore is less discreet than most adapters we’ve tested. At £156 the PL-AC56 is expensive (about the same as the Devolo 1200+ Wi-Fi but more than the TP-Link WPA8630P), but does boast all the bells and whistles (three Gigabit Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi, and a pass-through socket on the base adapter) of the latest 1200-rated Powerline starter kits, and so suits the top-end networking market well.
- Reviewed on: 21 November 13
- RRP: £129
This Devolo powerline/wireless system is simple to set up – real plug and play. The best-case speeds reached over powerline were far from the claimed 500Mbps, but this is true of all powerline adaptors as much as Wi-Fi underperformance. The speed of this device will in part be determined by the unique wiring of your house, but our tests prove that speeds will likely be at least three times what you'd expect of your standard Wi-Fi when a few rooms from your router. The Devolo dLAN 500AV Wireless+ will be of particular use if you want to hardwire more than one ethernet-enabled device such as TV or Sky+ box, as it boasts three ethernet ports. Its wireless function means we still prefer the 500AV to the newer and faster 650+ Powerlines from Devolo.
- Reviewed on: 13 December 14
- RRP: £89.99
The TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit is a nicely priced, and speedy set of fully featured Powerline adapters. We like the number of Ethernet ports, integrated power socket and Wi-Fi hotspot. Our only word of warning is that these aren’t best designed for houses with low to the floor power sockets because of the placement of the second adapter’s Ethernet ports. Otherwise it’s a good choice.
- Reviewed on: 5 July 15
- RRP: £29.99
While it lacks certain handy functions, such as the ability to add a new Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as features (more than one Ethernet port per adapter, for instance, and a Passthrough socket) the Netgear Powerline 500 (XAVB5221) is inexpensive, simple to set up, and performs adequately for most home uses. If you want faster speeds and all the bells and whistles look elsewhere, but we rate this starter kit as great value.
Read our Netgear Powerline 500 (XAVB5221) review.
- Reviewed on: 20 August 15
- RRP: £45
Both the D-Link AV 500 HD Mini and D-Link AV2 1000 HD Powerline adapters are well built, and discreet – you’ll hardly notice them. The AV 500 adapters were a little slow in our tests but about acceptable for most needs – and they are super tiny! The AV2 1000 HD adapters are a bit larger but were blazingly fast when tested, even beating a 1,200Mbps set of Powerline adapters! You don’t get extra Wi-Fi or pass-through power sockets but at these prices the D-Link Powerline adapters are great value, and will certainly speed up your home network.
- Reviewed on: 22 November 13
- RRP: £35.33
The ZyXel HD Powerline Adapter 500Mbps is a great-value set of Powerline adapters that performed excellently in our real-world speed tests. It's the smallest Powerline adapter we've seen, and will blend into any home environment. It lacks Wi-Fi and has only one ethernet port on each adapter but it's a real bargain that performs well.
- Reviewed on: 15 November 16
- RRP: £99.99, US$99.99
The Netgear PowerLINE WiFi 1000 lacks multiple Ethernet ports on each adapter and doesn’t have handy pass-through power sockets. But it performed well in our real-world speed tests, especially with its second-room new WiFi hotspot. The base unit is nicely compact, and the second adapter looks the part with its two antennae. The price is reasonable for a Powerline with extra WiFi, but you can get cheaper (but not quite as fast) with a 500Mbps Powerline. If you don’t need more than one Ethernet port per adapter but do want to improve your house WiFi speeds the Netgear PowerLINE WiFi 1000 is certainly worth considering.
Read our Netgear PowerLINE WiFi 1000 review.
- Reviewed on: 7 November 15
- RRP: £79.99, From US$59.99
Powerlines create fast home networks with the minimum of fuss, and the Trendnet Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit is one of the fastest we’ve tested. It is rather limited by its no-frills features, though: one Ethernet port per adapter and lack of wireless, but if you want just the basics at top speeds you will surely love this Powerline kit. It is available in two model: the entry-level TPL-420E2K, and the slightly larger TPL-421E2K, which features the handy pass-through sockets on each adapter.
- Reviewed on: 5 July 15
- RRP: £69.99, From US$79.99
Powerline adapters are brilliant for making fast and simple home networks, and the Netgear Powerline 1200 models passed our speed and set up tests with ease. Of the two models we think paying extra for the PLP1200 with PassThrough sockets is worth the additional expense compared to the cheaper PL1200. Sadly both are rather limited by their no-frills features, though: one Ethernet port per adapter and lack of wireless mean these are relatively basic but will still make a huge difference to your home network and PC/entertainment download speeds.
- Reviewed on: 15 April 15
- RRP: £59.99
The BT Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 Kit performs brilliantly, offering the some of the fastest Powerline speeds over ethernet and Wi-Fi in our tests. There are faster 1,200Mbps-rated Powerline kits out there, but this is near the top of the 500Mbps-rated Adapter charts. It's simple to install, is up and running in minutes, and both models offer two (non-Gigabit) Ethernet ports. Our only problem with it is its bulk and obtrusive black design (bachelor pad, anyone?), which may not appeal in your living room. The dinkier BT Mini Home Hotspot 500 Kit is much smaller but still black.
Read our BT Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 Kit review.
- Reviewed on: 22 April 15
- RRP: £89.99
The TP-Link 300Mbps AV500 WiFi Powerline Extender is one of the fastest sets of Powerline adapters we tested. It's not too big but offers both Wi-Fi and more than one Ethernet port, which is good for the prices we've seen it on sale for online.
- Reviewed on: 16 November 16
- RRP: £99.99, US$129.95
The £99 dLAN 550 WiFi and £109 550+ WiFi add speed and range, plus a pass-through socket, to the older dLAN 500. In real-world tests they proved to be fast, and not so far off the top-of-the-range 1200+ model (£159). Adding a second Wi-Fi hotspot in your home is a welcome addition to the much faster wired speeds you’ll enjoy when downloading HD movies or playing games over the Internet. It isn't at the cheap end of Powerline, though. If you can find it cheaper online, then it becomes a more compelling purchase. Also consider the less expensive £69 dLAN 550 duo+ Starter kit, which omits the extra Wi-Fi but boasts dual Ethernet ports and pass-through sockets on both adapters.
Read our Devolo dLAN 550 Wifi review.
- Reviewed on: 21 November 13
- RRP: £79.99
The Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit is marketed as user friendly, and it’s certainly that. Set up is simplicity itself, and you’ll be up and running in minutes. The adaptors are unobtrusive and fit in well with the look of most homes. The Wi-Fi function is a real boon – doubling the Wi-Fi signal in our test house. The app and parental controls are also worthwhile features. While we never expected 500Mbps speeds the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi wasn’t the fastest Powerline system we tested but it should be fast enough for most purposes. You can buy one set with the base unit plus one adapter for £79.99 or another with the base unit plus two adaptors for £124.99.
Read our Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit review.