Or Goren | Jul 16, 2018 | 0
As a cord cutter, why would you need the best powerline adapter? It’s simple: for cable TV cord cutters, it’s all about broadband and speed. And for video and streaming TV, WiFi is often not enough.
For you to be able to watch streaming TV like Netflix (instead of cable or satellite-based TV, such as from Sky or Virgin), your TV has to be connected to the internet. The connection might be direct to the TV, if you have a “Smart TV”, or through your streaming device (such as the Amazon Fire TV) – but one of these two has to be connected to the internet for the programmes to stream into your living room.
In this article, I review the best Powerline Adapters you can buy in the UK in 2018 – for cord cutters, and general internet home use.
|Rank||Powerline Adapter||Our Rating||Price|
|1||TP-Link 1000 Passthrough||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|2||BT Broadband Extender||⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|3||TP-Link AV2000 Passthrough||⭐⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
|4||Netgear PLW1000 WiFi||⭐⭐⭐||CHECK PRICES|
I Have Wi-Fi In My House – Isn’t That Enough?
Since you’re most likely already connected to the internet with a router in your house, you probably already have a WiFi connection spread around the house. So, you might ask, if WiFi is good enough for using my smartphone or laptop around the house, why not use it for the telly?
The answer really depends on your situation. Generally speaking, HD streaming video needs a lot of bandwidth. According to Netflix, an HD stream uses up to 3GB per hour, and their 4K streams use up to 7GB per hour.
This means that if you’re watching one episode of The Crown in 4K, your TV would have to download almost 7GB of data. And since no one likes buffering, your internet connection – particularly the part connected to your TV – needs to be fast enough so it can catch up.
Streaming TV is being downloaded to your device in real-time. In order to prevent disruption in the middle of the programme/movie you’re watching, a small portion of it will be preloaded into your device.
Then, while you’re already watching, the device will keep downloading the next chunk and the one after that, with you still watching the previous chunk that was already downloaded.
If your WiFi connection (or broadband in general) is too slow, the streaming device can’t keep up – you will ‘finish’ watching the preloaded part before the next one had enough time to download, and your programme will STOP, until the device can fill the buffer again – i.e., download the next chunk.
Most Smart TVs and streaming boxes can connect to the internet via WiFi. WiFi’s been getting faster and more reliable in recent years – but its performance depends on many factors.
The first issue is the location of your router (that’s the box connected to your broadband provider’s hole-in-the-wall – some providers call it “the hub”). If your router is in one room, and your telly is in a DIFFERENT room, the WiFi connection will deteriorate as it travels between the walls.
Sometimes, it’ll still be good enough – but if the rooms are on different floors, or if you have particularly heavy walls – by the time the WiFi signal meets your TV or streamer, it might not be good enough for a fast, stable connection.
WiFi stability and speed can also be affected by the quality (and age) of your router, other airborne signals in and around your house, and even household electronics. So, you might have an incredible broadband package with a speed of 200Mb, but by the time it reaches your TV on the second floor, the poor thing only gets an equivalent of 20Mb
The solution? If your TV is really close to your router, you could always pull an Ethernet cable between the router and the TV – that’s actually the best, and fastest (in broadband terms) solution.
However, that’s not always a practical solution – if your TV is in a different room (let alone a different floor), you wouldn’t want to start pulling ugly cables throughout your house. That’s when a powerline adapter is the best solution.
What Is A Powerline Adapter?
In layman’s terms, a powerline adapter is a device that can send data via the power lines in your home. And since every house already comes equipped with electric wiring (Yes, even the cheap ones in Central London) and sockets throughout the house, it’s like having your own, super-long broadband extension lead.
For the powerline adapter to work, you always need two devices (all the starter kits reviewed here already come with two). The first adapter is connected to the power socket closest to your router. Then, you connect the powerline adapter to your router with a regular Ethernet cable (usually provided with your adapter).
Now, you take the second powerline adapter, and connect it to a power socket that is close to your TV. This time, you connect the adapter to your TV (or streamer) with a second Ethernet cable.
Of course, you can also connect the second adapter to a computer, or any other device that needs a wired internet connection. Plus, you can create a multiple-room network – by connecting A THIRD (and a fourth…) powerline adapter in another room, you will get another wired connection to use with another device.
Now, you just have to press a button on both devices at once, and… voila! Like magic, the two devices create a data network inside your walls, and your TV/Streamer now have their own, direct line into the internet – and to your favorite programmes.
The Downsides Of Using A Powerline Adapter
Even the best powerline adapters reviewed here have their issues, and are not always the perfect solution.
Since they depend on your electrical wiring, old houses with problematic wiring might pose problems, which you will only find out about once you actually connect your adapters.
In addition, just like with WiFi (but for different reasons), the data signal degrades over long distances. So if you live in Downton Abbey, you might have issues connecting the kitchen to the upper bedrooms… but even in regular homes, making the connection travel between different floors will lower the speed your TV is getting.
Additionally, powerline adapters should not be connected via lead extension cables or surge protectors, as that will hinder their performance – so you need an available, separate wall socket next to your TV. (Some of the best powerline adapters come with an electric pass-through, which means you can still use that socket for other devices as well).
And, of course, there’s the cord issue – after all, we’re cord cutters, so we don’t want cords running around the house, right? So yes, you do need an Ethernet cable running between your TV and the adapter. But if your socket is close enough, you can use a short cable, and that’s a decent price to pay for higher-quality streaming.
Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Powerline Adapter
With so many models, manufacturers and speeds out there, it might seem difficult to choose the powerline adapter that’s best for you. I’ve tried to simplify the process by listing five of the best, with different needs in mind.
Whichever model you eventually decide to buy, there are a few points you should take note of before you buy:
1. Powerline Adapter’s Speed
Powerline adapters come in many different speeds (that means the broadband speed your TV will actually get through the adapter). The older models had 200Mbps (that’s megaBITS per second, not megaBYTES), then 600 became common, and there’s 1000, 1200, and the newest one – 2,000Mbps.
Since the point is to give your TV internet at good speeds, don’t bother with 500-600 ones – you should get, at the very least, a 1,000Mbps powerline adapter. Keep in mind, those numbers are theoretical – they represent the maximum “possible” bandwidth speed, but in real life, you will get much lower numbers.
Still, 1,000 is enough in most cases – even for streaming 4K video. If, however, you plan on connecting the adapter to more than one device at a time (or use another adapter in a different room), you should look into a higher data speed – 1200, or even 2,000.
Keep in mind that if at some point you decide to buy a third powerline adapter (for another TV, for example, or to connect a computer in a different room), the entire network will be as fast (or as slow) as your slowest adapter. So if you buy a 1000Mbps one now, and later buy a 2,000 one and connect it to the original one – you would still get 1,000.
2. HomePlug AV2 Standard
There are several companies that manufacture powerline adapters, but thankfully, there’s a standard that many of them follow.
The HomePlug AV2 Standard is a set of technical requirements and specifications for powerline adapters.
In addition to providing better support for high-speed connections, the standard also requires adapters to have an AES 128-bit encryption button – if you have neighbors who share your electrical wiring, encryption will stop them from “stealing” your data through your, well, walls.
Powerline adapters that carry the AV2 symbol are also inter-compatible, so if you wish to buy another powerline adapter in the future, and use it on the same network, you won’t have to buy the same model – but just one that also conforms to the AV2 standard.
3. How many ports do you need?
Some powerline adapters come with ONE Ethernet port, while others come with two (and even three). If you’re going to need to connect more than one device to your adapter, you should buy an adapter with two Ethernet ports. (For example – one to connect to your Smart TV, and a second one to connect to your Playstation 4).
4. Passthrough or No Passthrough?
Remember, even the best powerline adapters need to be connected directly to the wall, without and extension leads. And if you have a shortage of wall sockets next to your TV or your router, you might end up with a missing socket once you connect the adapter.
For those cases, you can buy a powerline adapter with an integrated passthrough which you can use as a regular power socket, so nothing goes to waste.
- Good price
- Excellent performance and speed
- Easy, plug-and-play pairing
- Passthrough – saves you a socket
- Power-saving feature can get too trigger-happy
- Promised speed is questionable
- A bit big – might block adjacent socket
These do an excellent job, and at a very fair price. Installation is a breeze, just press the encryption button on both devices and you’re done. Performance is great, just remember that faulty or old electrical wiring can hinder your results. They’re not the cheapest powerline adapters out there, but you get excellent value from a known brand.
The speed is enough for most cord cutting scenarios (unless you’re connecting TWO 4K devices). There’s a similar model, the TL-PA9020PKIT, which is faster at 2,000Mbps – but it’s more expensive, so check your needs.
This is a fast and reliable powerline adapter – sure, there are faster ones out there, but they’re more expensive, and for a cord cutter looking to stream HD or 4K content on your TV, this is certainly enough.
- Excellent performance and speed
- Decent price
- Only one Ethernet port
- Installation can be a bit tricky
Some people swear by BT devices, perhaps due to their past glory. And while I wouldn’t pay extra just to get the BT logo, their devices are, in most cases, of excellent quality.
Which bring us to this BT powerline adapter – it’s a pretty basic, bare-bones adapter – it only has one ethernet port, and there’s no passthrough socket (unless you get the more expensive model), but it does what it sets out to do very well – and for a good price.
- Highest speed currently available
- Improved performance over long distances
- Two Ethernet ports and passthrough sockets
- Big and bulky
- Led status lights on the side – difficult to see from afar
If money’s not a factor, this is probably the best powerline adapter you can buy today. It’s twice as fast as all the other adapters, with 2,000Mbps, which means you can watch TWO 4K streams at the same time, with devices connected to both ports.
It has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, an outlet passthrough, and promises to work better over long distances – though, keep in mind, this still depends on the quality of the electrical wiring in your house.
The problem? The price. It’s not only the fastest, it’s also one of the most expensive powerline adapters out there, and if you’re just looking for a quick an easy solution for your living room TV, this might be an overkill at that price.
- Ethernet AND WiFi Extender
- Good speed and WiFi reception
- Good price
- Only one Ethernet port
- Configuration can be a bit of a mess when things go wrong
- Questionable long-term build quality
Sometimes you need a wired Ethernet connection for your TV/streamer, AND boost the WiFi signal around the room. Instead of getting two devices, this Netgear powerline adapter will serve both needs, with a 1,000Mbps speed, for a decent price.
As a wired powerline adapter, it’s not the best you can buy – it only has one Ethernet port, there’s no electric passthrough (there’s a similar model that comes with that – but it costs around £20 more), and some customers reported failings after only weeks of usage, which sometimes indicates patchy build quality.
But if you’re looking for a cheapish device that solves both the Ethernet and WiFi issues – the Netgear is the one to beat.